Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

# Can jackpots be forced to hit before a certain amount?

31 January 2009

Just read your article about larger progressive jackpots not being more likely to hit than smaller ones.

Please clarify this situation: You see a bank of machines that you cannot get a seat on and players are stating that the jackpot is ready to hit because they say it must hit before it hits a predetermined amount.

If this is correct, does it state in the pay table what this amount is?

Thanks,
Pete

Dear Pete,

I don't know where those players you described got their information. If the jackpot is awarded by landing a certain combinations of symbols on the payline, there is no way to guarantee that the jackpot will hit before it reaches a certain amount. The symbols that land on the payline are chosen at random, so there might be no spins between jackpot hits and there might be millions.

You won't find the predetermined jackpot amount mentioned by those players on the pay table because it doesn't exist.

Sometimes you might hear casinos or slot manufacturers say that hitting some big jackpot is "overdue." They're not saying that it is more likely to hit now. They're just saying that, given the number of spins played, it's more likely that the jackpot would have been hit than not.

For example, say that your chances for hitting a jackpot are 1 out of 10. Your chances for not hitting are 9 out of 10, for a probability of 0.9. That's for one spin. Your probability of not hitting the jackpot on two spins are 0.9 times 0.9, or 0.81. For three spins, 0.729. For four spins, 0.6561. For five spins, 0.59049. For six, 0.531441 and for seven, 0.47892969.

We calculated the probability that something didn't happen. The probability that it did happen is 1 minus the probability that it didn't. So after seven spins, the probability that we did hit the jackpot is about 0.53. After seven spins, it's more likely that we hit the jackpot than we didn't.

That's what the casinos are saying when they say a progressive is "overdue." Given the number of spins played, it's more likely that it hit than it didn't. The chances for hitting are still the same on every spin.

There's another kind of jackpot we should discuss. Sometimes casinos have bonuses that they award to a random player. Winning the jackpot has nothing to do with landing symbols on the payline. The casinos usually give a range that the bonus will fall in, say \$1,000 to \$3,000. They might say that the jackpot is guaranteed to hit by \$3,000.

These bonuses are administered by a special bonusing computer program. The program chooses a trigger value between \$1,000 and \$3,000. As players play the machines that are part of this bonus promotion, a portion of their wagers gets added to a running total in the bonusing computer program. The player whose wager pushes the running total equal to the trigger point wins the bonus.

In this system, we have a random bonus (the program chooses the bonus amount at random) that is guaranteed to hit by a certain value. Note the difference between this bonus and the progressive. In the progressive, the randomizer is the combination of symbols on the payline. In the bonus, the randomizer is the trigger point chosen by the program.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots