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Reason I like Bovada #3:

One-stop shopping

Let me share my experience at another online casino whose name I won't mention:  I wanted to try out their free-play games, and they made me sign up for an account.  That was annoying, just for free-play, but actually most casinos make you register, so they can annoy you by email to pressure you into depositing real money.

I didn't get to choose my own username, they assigned one, and it was long! An astounding twelve digits of mixed numbers and letters.  There was no way I'd be able to memorize it, I'd have to write it down.

After trying out the free-play games I decided to deposit money and play for real.  And guess what? I had to register a separate account to play for real.  They assigned me a brand-new twelve-digit username.  Great.

Shortly thereafter they started offering play-in-browser games.  That's convenient, so I wanted to get in on that.  Guess what?  Yet another username.

And guess how they handle they money they give you as a matching bonus on your deposit?  You guessed it, another account.

Okay, now let's fast-forward to Bovada: One account gets you everything.  And I mean everything.  Real money, fake money, bonuses, you name it.  I didn't get to choose my account name, but at least it's easy to remember.

And if you want to play for free with fake money, you don't even need an account at all.  For example:

Play for free, no B.S.
One click and you're in.

All in all, I think Bovada is the best bet for U.S. players.


Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Slot Machine Jackpots

Last update: August 2018

Play this slot machine with play money or real money at Bovada

No popups, no download, no registration, no B.S., just the game. One click and you're in.

Odds of hitting a slot machine jackpot

In general, the higher the jackpot, the harder it is to hit.  Exactly as you should expect.  The lowest odds I've found are 1 in 32,768 (for a 1000-coin jackpot on a flavor of Red White & Blue), and the longest are 1 in 49,836,032, for Megabucks, which has a multi-million-dollar top prize.

A common mistake is to reason that if a bunch of machines all cost $0.75 to play, you might as well choose the one with the biggest jackpot, because that will be the best deal for your $0.75.  This misses a few important things:

  1. The bigger the jackpot, the harder it is to actually hit.
  2. Among flat-tops (machines without a meter which keeps going up), the overall odds are generally similar no matter how high the jackpot is.
  3. The higher the jackpot, the more likely you'll lose in the short-term.  It takes a lot of play to fund those extra-big jackpots.
  4. The machines with the huge jackpots like Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks have lousy odds.  Not just for getting the jackpot, but for the small pays, too.  Yes, they cost the same amount to play as regular machines, but they definitely suck your money away faster.

To have the best chance of winning in the short term, choose the machines with the smallest jackpots.

It's rare than any article elsewhere will actually tell you the actual odds of hitting a slot jackpot (because the writers have no idea), but let me lift the veil off that mystery right now.  Here are the odds of hitting the top jackpot on various machines.

Jackpot odds revealed!

Jackpot Amount Odds Source
Red White & Blue
1000 coins 1 in 32,768 University of Nevada
Double Diamond
2500 coins 1 in 46,656 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Blazing 7's electromechanical
2500 coins 1 in 46,656 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Blazing 7's, video 20,000 coins
1 in 81,920
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Phantom of the Opera 5000 coins 1 in 114,131
to
1 in 155,345
Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Red White & Blue 2400 coins 1 in 262,144 Wizard of Odds.  Note that different flavors of the same slot can have different odds.  Another version of Red White & Blue listed above has shorter jackpot odds.
Double Strike 5000 coins
1 in 500,000
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Hexbreaker 10,000 coins
1 in 562,209
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Money Storm 10,000 to 50,000
1 in 2,188,411
Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Jackpot Piñatas 5000
1 in 3,695,354
Wizard of Odds
Lion Fish 5000 1 in 6,250,000 Wizard of Odds
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 10,000 to 50,000 1 in 8,107,500 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Cleopatra (IGT) 10,000 coins
1 in 16,605,000
Wizard of Odds
Megabucks $8 to $33 million
(progressive)
1 in 49,836,032 John Robison in Casino City Times
Note that there are often different versions of machines with the same name, so the numbers above might not apply to every flavor of the named machine.  What you should take from this is that as the jackpot goes up, so does the difficulty in actually hitting it.

The biggest jackpot of any progressive slot in the world is Megabucks, often hitting at around $12 million, but hitting as high as $33 million.

To my knowledge, no manufacturer, land casino, or online casino publishes the jackpot odds of any of their slots.  Years ago, a now-defunct online casino (Casino.net) published some of theirs.  Here's what they were, along with the progressive jackpot amounts for the $0.25 and $1.00 machines at the time I created the table.

Online jackpot odds

Jackpot Odds
$0.25 machine
$1.00 machine
Aladdin's Lamp
1 in 2.5 million
$118, 385
$227,676
Haunted House
1 in 1 million
$20,450
$42,038
Jack in the Box
1 in 250,000
$36,985
$91,110
Gold Pirates
1 in 250,000
$5,577
$22,685


How long you have to play to get the jackpot

It would take weeks to years on average to hit a slot jackpot.  At a brisk 800 spins per hour, that's 6400 spins for a full day, or 32,000 spins for a full-time week, or 1,664,000 for a year (@ 40 hrs/wk).  At that rate, here's how long it would take to hit the jackpots of the games mentioned above.


 Average time to hit the jackpot (800 spins/hr, 5 days/wk) 

Jackpot Amount Odds Time to Hit
Red White & Blue
1000 coins 1 in 32,768 1 week
Double Diamond
2500 coins 1 in 46,656 1.5 weeks
Blazing 7's electromechanical 20,000 coins
1 in 81,920
2.5 weeks
Blazing 7's video 5000 coins
1 in 93,312
3 weeks
Phantom of the Opera 5000 coins 1 in 114,131
to
1 in 155,345
3.5 to 5 weeks
Red White & Blue 2400 coins 1 in 262,144 2 months
Double Strike 5000 coins
1 in 500,000
3.5 months
Hexbreaker 10,000 coins
1 in 562,209
4 months
Money Storm 10,000 to 50,000
1 in 2,188,411
1.3 years
Jackpot Piñatas 5000
1 in 3,695,354
2.2 years
Lion Fish 5000
1 in 6,250,000
3.8 years
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 10,000 to 50,000 1 in 8,107,500 5 years
Cleopatra (IGT) 10,000 1 in 16,605,000 10 years
Megabucks $8 to $33 million
(progressive)
1 in 49,836,032 30 years

By contrast, the odds of getting a the top jackpot (royal flush) on a Jacks or Better video poker machine is only 1 in 40,000.  Yet another reason to switch to video poker.

The really long odds on the newer video slots (Money Storm, Lucky Larry's) is no accident.  When someone hits a big jackpot, they have to wait for casino staff to come pay them by hand.  That's downtime during which the casino isn't making any money from that player.  Also, players who hit a big jackpot are more likely to take a break and quit playing for a while.  That's why the top jackpot on the newer slots typically take years to hit.


The jackpot never gets more likely to hit

Every spin on a slot machine is random, so it doesn't matter how long it's been since the last jackpot hit.  The jackpot never gets more likely to hit.  If the odds of hitting a jackpot on one spin are 1 in 250,000, then they're always 1 in 250,000, whether the last jackpot hit last year or five minutes ago.  No slot machine is ever "due" to hit.  That's the way randomness works.  The odds of getting heads on a coin flip are always 1 in 2, no matter what you got on previous flips.   If you just flipped ten heads in a row, then you're just as likely to get heads yet again as you are to get tails.   If you're not convinced about this then see our article about exposing the gambler's fallacy.  Many people think that they can get an edge by playing a machine that hasn't paid out big in a while, thinking it's "due", but it's not.  Slot machines are never "due".


Progressive Jackpots

On most slots the amount of the top jackpot is fixed, but some slots have a meter that shows the jackpot amount getting progressively higher.  Those are called progressive machines (as opposed to "flat-top" machines).  A portion of the money played in those machines helps push the jackpot ever higher.  The more it's played, the higher it goes.  If it doesn't get any play, the jackpot amount doesn't budge.

Progressive machines are often linked together so that play on any of the linked machines feeds the jackpot.  And of course, any of those linked games can win the jackpot.  There might be as few as a single bank of machines linked together in a single casino, but there are also machines that are linked through the entire state of Nevada, like Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune.  If you walk from one casino to another, you'll see that the jackpot for Megabucks is the same.  Play on any Megabucks machine in the whole state makes the meter go higher.  That's one reason they can afford to make the jackpot so big.

The other reason is that the statewide progressive machines have lousy odds.  A huge portion of each dollar played goes to fuel the jackpot, so a lot less is returned in the form of small pays.  Pioneering analysis by the Wizard of Odds showed that for each dollar played on Megabucks, about 10¢ goes to feed the meter, 11¢ goes to profit, and only 78¢ is returned to players in the form of non-jackpot payouts.  Ouch.

A to Z Las Vegas has a good list of current statewide progressive jackpot amounts, along with the date, amount, and location of the last hit.


How much of the payback comes from the jackpot?

Most of the return on a typical slot comes from the small pays, not from the jackpot.  In fact, the jackpot usually comprises less than 1% of the total payback.  The exception are the huge progressive slots like Megabucks, where the jlargeackpot is a  part of the total return.  Here's what portion of the total payback is comprised of the jackpot.  And here again, this aggregated table is the kind of thing you won't find published anywhere else.

  Portion of Payback that comes from the Jackpot 


Red White & Blue
0.92-1.5%
Blazing 7's electromechanical 1.93%
Blazing 7's, video 8.1%
Double Strike 0.6%
Hexbreaker <0.1%
Jackpot Piñatas 0.1%
Lion Fish <0.1%
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 0.15%
Cleopatra (IGT) 0.9%
Megabucks 10.2%
Figures are given in percentage points.  So, if a machine pays back 95%,
and the jackpot portion is listed as 1.5%, the machine would pay back
93.5% if there were no jackpot on the machine. • (sources)


Huge jackpots are usually paid in installments

Multimillion-dollar jackpots, like Megabucks, are typically paid in annual installments over a number of years, rather than all the money up front. (source)  For example, Megabucks is paid out over 25 years. (source)  You can find out whether your favorite machine pays up-front or in installments (and if so, how many installments) by reading the fine print on the machine itself.


What happens when you win a $1 million+ jackpot?

The Las Vegas Sun (which I like better than the Las Vegas Review-Journal) has a good article about what happens when someone wins a >$1 million jackpot.


Play slots online

I suggest you play something other than slots because the slot odds are so bad.  You could also play online with fake money, because then it doesn't matter if you lose.  A good casino for free-play is Bovada, since it requires no download and no registration—one click and you're in.  You can play with real money too, though I hope you won't (or at least won't bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose).

Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

All my slot machine articles

  • Slot machine basics.  How much it costs to play, how much you can win, expected loss, why they're a bad bet, why they're popular, how you can limit your losses, speed of play
  • How to play slot machines
  • Slot returns.  How much they pay back.
  • The Randomness Principle.  Slots don't continually get looser and tighter as they're played.  They don't have to.
  • How they work. Explains the randomness principle, and runs through the math to show how a game returns a particular payback percentage.  There's a companion page on Par sheets.
  • Slot Machine Myths
  • Slot Machine B.S.  Wrong info that's published elsewhere.
  • Strategies. Tips for increasing your chances of winning, and saving money.
  • Slot Jackpots.  Odds of hitting the jackpot, progressive jackpots, and other jackpot topics.
  • Skill-Based Slots.  The scoop on the new games in which your results aren't entirely determined by chance.
  • Slot Machine malfunctions. How and why slot machines screw up, causing players to think they've won the jackpot when they really haven't.
  • Slot Machine Simulator.  I programmed an exact replica of the Blazing 7s slot (odds-wise).  Click it to play thousands of spins in one second and see how you do.
  • List of good Bovada slots.  I spent a full day surveying Bovada's voluminous offerings and extracted only the few with nice, modern graphics and mobile-compatibility.