Exploring how progressive jackpots are won

The ever-increasing size of the Mega Moolah jackpot at present has certainly got progressive jackpot hunters more than a little excited. With the jackpot now nearing an incredible 13 million, somebody is about to set a brand new record for the biggest win on this hugely popular progressive at some point.

We can only say 'at some point' and not 'at some point soon' because there is actually no way of knowing that the Mega Moolah jackpot is set to be won. Sure, it may look like it is overdue a big win, it may feel like the jackpot is primed to be won, but to think that is to misunderstand how progressive jackpot slots work and to fall into the trap of believing one of the most common gambler's fallacies about progressive slots.

That being that after a progressive slot is not won for some time, it is 'primed' to be won by someone in a relatively short space of time.

To understand why this is not the case, we need to explore exactly how progressive games are designed and how the progressive jackpot is paid out.

The first thing to note about progressive's is that they are not 'programmed' to pay out at any given point. There are no measures in place that the machine can act on regarding the size of the progressive jackpot or how frequently it has been paid out. The machine doesn't know how many spins it has been since the last jackpot win, or how much money has been spent on the game.

It  may sound somewhat obvious stating this, but these are all commonly held beliefs by many people who play slots.

The reason the software doesn't know this is because it is not programmed to. A progressive slot works off the basis of a Random Number Generator (RNG), which is the heart of the slot. When you press a button to start a spin, the RNG selects a number out of millions or even billions of combinations.

A certain percentage of these combinations will be winning ones and these result in a pay out. A higher number are losing spins and a very small fraction are the spins that offer a bigger payout. Among those bigger wins may be one or two selections that offer the big progressive jackpot game.

Now, the basis of any random number generator is the simple premise that the process is entirely random. Faulty logic may lead you to believe that a progressive slot not paying out for a length period of time may make it more likely to win, but in actual fact, the chances of winning on each spin of the game are exactly the same whether you are spinning the reels one second, one week, one month or one year after the last progressive jackpot was triggered.

So be wary of sites that proclaim that progressive jackpots are 'primed ready to win', the fact of the matter is that even though it is tempting to think someone will win it soon, there is no actual evidence that this is the case. That big Mega Moolah jackpot could be won tomorrow, or it may not be won for another six weeks, six months or even considerably longer.

Another myth about progressive slots (which may stem directly from slots like Mega Moolah) is that you have more chance of landing the progressive jackpot if you make the maximum possible bet on the game.

Now with Mega Moolah, what is indubitably the case is that the bigger your wager, the more chance you have of triggering the random game that could see you land the progressive jackpot. Remember, with Mega Moolah, the jackpot is triggered not from within the base game, or free spins, but from the Jackpot Wheel game.

The jackpot wheel is a random feature and while your chances of having the wheel pop up increase with the size of your bet, you can still see the wheel appear if you make a smaller bet.

There's no better evidence of this than from the game's history itself when Lincolnshire winner John Orchard landed the current biggest ever Mega Moolah jackpot, when he won over £5.8m UK Pounds when playing the slot, yet his stake on the spin was just 0.30p.

Then there is the jackpot wheel itself. When you look at the wheel, it is tempting to assume that you have a relatively decent chance on each spin of winning the jackpot. However, in truth, your chances of winning the Mega Moolah jackpot are much smaller than the sector indicates. If the wheel was broken up into segments representing the actual chance, it would require hundreds, if not thousands of separate sectors and the Mega Moolah progressive jackpot would be just one of those sectors.

Some other myths we can explode is that Mega Moolah, or other progressive games, cannot ensure that the jackpot is spread 'fairly' around the globe or that because the jackpot has just been won it will not be won again for some time (you are as likely to win the jackpot the spin after it has been won as you are on every other successive spin).

Neither do progressive jackpots pay out only after a player has spent a certain amount of money, or time, playing the slot in question and nor can casinos that host the game decide that they want the slot to pay out at their casino.

The whole world has gone progressive slot mad in recent times with Major Millions celebrating a millionaire winner and now Mega Moolah offering a record jackpot. However, understanding how these games work and the myths that surround them, is key to enjoying them far more. If you understand you have the same chance to win on every spin, then every spin becomes a little bit more special.