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# Creating the jackpot

13 July 2017

QUESTION: My wife has me playing these penny slots with multiple progressives. No matter how much you bet, the jackpots are the same size. Why would anybody bet more than the minimum?

ANSWER: There are two methods that casinos and slot manufacturers use to offer jackpots to all players, regardless of how much they bet.

One is to make the jackpots a separate wager. You might bet 10 cents per payline while I bet only 1 cent per payline on the main game. But if we both make a separate jackpot bet of a fixed amount, then we’re both contributing equally to the progressive meters and can be offered the same chance at the jackpots.

The other method is with mystery jackpots. On games with mystery jackpots, you don’t have to line up symbols on a payline to win. The jackpot just pops up and gives you nice surprise, even if you have a losing combination on the reels.

Mystery jackpots can be programmed in a few different ways. One common method starts with the casino operator or game manufacturer configuring both a minimum base to start the jackpot building and a maximum payout.

A random number generator then selects a jackpot total between the base and the maximum. The player whose wager pushes the jackpot to the randomly selected total wins it.

For example, let’s say the Mini jackpot on a multi-level progressive has a base value of \$5 and is configured so that it must hit at \$10 or less. The RNG selects a value in between – let’s say \$8.34. It doesn’t display that value. That must remain a mystery to players or no one would play until payoff time was near.

Further, let’s say the game is set up so that 1% of each bet goes into the Mini jackpot. That’s a generous amount when there are several jackpot tiers to fund, but it makes the arithmetic easy.

Then, if you bet \$3, you move the progressive meter up by 3 cents. If I bet 30 cents, I move the meter up by three-tenths of a cent. For you to win the jackpot, the meter could be anywhere from \$8.31 on up at the time of your bet. For me to win, it must be at \$8.337 or more when I spin the reels.

Casinos can offer the same size jackpot to the \$3 bettor as the 30-cent bettor because the chances that the bigger bettor’s wager will be the one to trigger the payoff are 10 times greater than those of the smaller bettor.

QUESTION: My question is about regulation in video blackjack. Is a roll of the cards more like the slot reels, with a fixed payback percentage, or like video poker?

ANSWER: It’s more like video poker. Nevada, naturally enough, took the lead here, and its regulation requires that all games that use representations of playing cards be random, with every card having an equal chance of being dealt.

The effect is that video card games have fair odds of card appearance, with the same probabilities as if the cards were being dealt from a physical deck of cards. That applies to video blackjack, just as it applies to video poker. Over the years, we’ve seen video Caribbean Stud and video 3-5-7 poker along with several video versions of Hold’em, and the regulation applied to them, too. And if anyone ever decided to market video Casino War, it also would have random distribution of cards, with each having an equal chance of being dealt.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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Winning Tips for Casino Games
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.