What are progressive jackpots?
Put quite simply, a ‘progressive jackpot’ is a jackpot for a gaming machine (such as slots) where the value of the payoff (or, ‘jackpot’) increases by a small amount each time another game is played. Gaming machines are frequently linked to ONE of these of these ‘progressive jackpots’. So, several players, playing at different machines, are actually playing for the same jackpot AND increasing it each time they play.
How do they work?
Usually, slot machines have their ‘jackpot’ listed as a monetary value and this can only be won by achieving the combination with the highest payoff; whether that’s 4 cherries in a row or a ‘royal flush’ at a video poker machine. Once the jackpot has been won, the machine resets itself to its preset and designated minimum.
The difference with ‘progressive jackpots’ is that each time a game is played on a connected machine, the jackpot increases (progresses…) by a small amount. So, instead of individuals all playing to win a $5,000 or $10,000 dollar jackpot at single machines, each player is increasing the jackpot they’re playing for every time they pull the handle. The ‘house’ sets the amount by which the jackpot progresses and is willing to contribute to some of the profit because progressive jackpots attract so many players. In other words, they limit some of their profit initially to make more later because of the attraction that large jackpots have to so many players. Also, progressive jackpots generally require playing the highest credit level in order to be eligible for the jackpot.
What does ‘Qualifying’ entail?
Even though, as we said, usually only players playing with the maximum credits ‘qualify’ for the jackpot, all players contribute. So, a game that requires more credits to qualify for its jackpot will generally rise to higher levels faster than one that requires less. To see this illustrated, consider the following example: If one game requires 10 credits in order to be eligible for the jackpot while another only requires 5, more people may play the 5-credit game. Thinking that 10 credits are too much to play with, they’ll choose the 5-credit game. If they usually only play with 3 credits, they may figure that an additional 2 is no big deal and indeed worth it when considering the possibility of winning the large jackpot. However, because there is such a larger difference between 3 and 10 credits, players are more likely to continue only playing with 3 at 10-credit machine and thus, they’re continually adding to the jackpot without ever achieving the possibility of winning it!
What does all of this mean for me as a player?
Well, first of all, and the most obvious advantage, playing progressive jackpots provides an opportunity to win MUCH larger sums of money if one hits the right combination. Although the player has to play with a larger amount of credits than on normal machines, the more people that choose this route, the greater the winnings will eventually be, and basically, you’ll be getting a larger ‘bang’ for your buck. Also, different casinos have different payout processes and different minimum credit contributions. So, as always, it’s worth checking out several different sites to see what each has to offer, what amount the jackpot is at, and what credit amount best suits you.
Playing progressive jackpots vs. regular machines is ultimately a matter of preference. Odds are fairly similar and while there are some methods for improving one’s advantage at progressive slots (such as ‘team’ play – which many casinos prohibit), most of these are either extremely shady (= illegal) and/or simply nothing more than theories. In the end, it remains a game of chance – that’s why they call it gambling.