By Bill Burton
Every slot player who has ever walked into a casino has probably had the fantasy of hitting The Big One, that life changing progressive jackpot that will put you on Easy Street for the rest your life. You imagine the thrill of lining up the winning symbols and dream about how you will spend all that money. Then reality kicks in and deep down you know that you have a better chance of getting struck by lighting than you do hitting the big jackpot. Does this mean you should not play Progressive slot machines?
While the odds of hitting a life changing jackpot may be astronomical, you don’t have to avoid all progressive machines. As long as you know what to expect and have some realistic expectations you can give them a shot. There are also some progressive machines that are better than others if you want to hit the jackpot. First let’s take a look at the basic of progressive machines.
The big progressive jackpot is made by taking a percentage of all the money played into the machine. This means that the jackpot continues to grow as more people play the machine until somebody hits the winning symbols for the top award. Because a percentage of the coins played form the Progressive Jackpot, the actual payback percentage will be less on the other winning symbols and in some case the payback percentage on the Progressive machines will be less than other machines in the casino. This is true for the machines that offer the life changing jackpots. Not all progressive machines are the same. There are actually three different types of progressive machines.
The Stand Alone Progressive
The stand alone progressive machine is not linked to any other machines. Instead of having a fixed top jackpot it takes a percentage of the coins played and adds that to the award for the highest winning combination .It has a meter on the front and shows you the jackpot. In most cases the payback is equal to the other machines of that denomination but it just distributed differently to give you a varying amount for the top prize. The progressive jackpots for the stand alone machines is much lower that the ones from machines that are linked together.
In-House or Local Area Progressives
These are a group of machines linked together and owned and operated by the casino. They may be just in a single casino or linked together with several properties if the gaming company owns more than one casino. The jackpots may not be the multi-million variety but they can be quite a substantial win in some casinos. They generally hit more often that the big wide area Progressives.
Wide Area Progressives
These are the machines that offer the life changing jackpots. The machines are linked together from many unrelated casinos. These machines are operated by an independent operated rather than a single gaming company. Slot maker IGT operates games such as MegaBucks, Quatermania, and others in many different States. The casino share in a percentage of the winnings but the operator owns the games. The Jackpots may be large but so are your chances of hitting the big prize. Because of the costs of linking the machine and the administrative costs to run these Area wide games, the payback percentage on these machines is much lower than on other slots.
It’s alright to try your hand at the big progressive machines hoping that lady luck will shine on you but don’t make it the mainstay of your slot play. Instead set aside a certain percentage of your playing bankroll and use that for a shot at the big one. Winning one of these is pure luck and is a gamble along the lines of buying a lottery ticket. Don’t spend your entire bankroll chasing dream. If you want to play a progressive machine you might be better off to concentrate your efforts on the Stand Alones or In House Progressives. Your odds are much better. Most importantly remember, playing slots is entertainment. Have Fun!
Until next time, remember:
Luck comes and goes…Knowledge Stays Forever!
Bill Burton is the Casino Gambling Columnist for the Internet portal About.com. His website is located at: http://casinogambling.about.com. He is the author of “1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets” and “He is the author of "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em" available at www.billburton.com. He is an instructor for Golden Touch Craps; www.goldentouchcraps.com. He also writes for several national gambling publications.