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Progressive slots and slot machines have a jackpot that increases incrementally as players play the game. These can be standalone machines, where the jackpot increases on just that one machine, or they can be networks of machines, where the jackpot increases across the entire network. These networks can be proprietary to the casino, or they can be networked across multiple casinos. Megabucks by IGT is one example of a game that’s networked across multiple casinos.
The games take a tiny percentage of each bet to “fuel” the jackpot, which enables the jackpots on these games to become far larger than you’d find on other slot machine games.
One feature that all progressive slots share is a jackpot meter, which shows the current value of the jackpot. The meter is almost always large, brightly colored and located above the slot machines. You can literally watch the size of the jackpot grow as people plunk their coins in the slots.
Internet slot machine games also have jackpot meters, and you’ll find them inside the actual casino software itself. You’ll also see these jackpot meters on various informational websites that promote these kinds of games and casinos.
One fact to keep in mind when playing progressive games is that you have to make the max bet in order to be eligible to win. We don’t always recommend that you play max coins on most slot machines, but don’t play a progressive if you’re not going to make the max bet. You can’t imagine the frustration you’ll feel if you win the jackpot but get a smaller payout because you didn’t make the max bet.
You’ll only find two games where you can win a million dollars or more on a single bet. One of those is the lottery. The other is progressive slot machine games. You have a better chance of winning a million dollars or more playing the lottery, believe it or not.
According to this article from the Las Vegas Sun, the odds of winning Megabucks are 1 in 49,836,032. By way of comparison, the odds of winning Lotto Texas are 1 in 25,827,165. So you’re literally twice as likely to win a million dollars playing the lottery as you are by playing Megabucks.
You should consider a couple of observations, though. One is that these kinds of probabilities are so slim that in a practical sense, there isn’t much difference. Is 1 in 25 million really significantly different than 1 in 50 million? Imagine having 25 million dollars. You could buy anything you want. Having 50 million would also allow you to buy anything you want. In either case, a single dollar would be completely insignificant to you.
That’s the same mental approach you should take when thinking about these odds. When the odds are so tiny, does it really matter, at least on a practical level?
Also, which do you think will be more fun? Buying 500 lottery tickets, or spinning a slot machine’s reels 500 times? Both will have a similar net cost, but one is going to provide you with a lot more entertainment. Here’s a hint — the visuals and the sound effects of a slot machine game are a lot more interesting than checking 500 lotto tickets against a set of numbers.
It’s impossible to cover the subject of progressive jackpots without mentioning Megabucks. This is a name that’s given to several lottery games, but it’s more commonly known as the brand-name for a specific network of slot machine games. In fact, it’s the most famous large area progressive in the world.
Megabucks is an IGT (International Game Technology) product. The jackpot starts at $10 million (although it used to start at $7 million) and grows from there, and it’s been known to get as high as $39 million before being hit. Like most lottery jackpots, winners of a Megabucks jackpot can choose to receive a lifetime annuity or a cash payout.
Progressive jackpots aren’t limited to slot machine games. They’re also commonly found on video poker machines. Some table games, like Caribbean Stud Poker, offer progressive jackpots on a regular basis. Other table games offer huge, constantly-growing jackpots on side bets. Some poker rooms even offer progressive jackpots in the form of bad beat jackpots.
With progressive video poker machines, you can actually determine the break-even point for the game. Video poker games offer known odds, since they simulate an actual deck of cards. For example, you can expect to see a royal flush approximately once every 40,000 hands. If the progressive jackpot gets high enough, the game becomes a positive expectation wager, which is rare enough to find in any casino.
Caribbean Stud Poker is a progressive card game based on five card stud and invented by ShuffleMaster. The bet on the progressive jackpot wins when a player gets a royal flush, but you can also win 10% of the progressive jackpot by getting a straight flush. This requires a side bet of a dollar.
You’ll even find some blackjack games with a progressive side bet available. One of the more popular of these is the Triple Sevens Blackjack game from Microgaming. In this game, if you’re dealt three sevens of diamonds, you win the jackpot. Other combinations of sevens result in smaller prizes, too. These kinds of games are found in land-based casinos throughout the world, but the payout varies. They all have one thing in common though—the side bet is a requirement to win the progressive jackpot.
In poker rooms, a bad beat jackpot is often available at certain tables. This often changes the texture of the game, because some people will stay in with hands that they might otherwise fold, all in the hopes of sharing in the jackpot. Bad beat jackpot tables take an additional amount in rake in order to fund the prize pool. The jackpot is won when someone has a really strong hand that’s beat by an even stronger hand, which is obviously a rare occurrence.