Reason I like Bovada #2:

Good Odds

The odds are always against you when you gamble, which is an excellent argument for not gambling in the first place.  If you're gonna gamble anyway, then it pays to play at a casino that offers good odds.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for an online casino with better-than-average odds, and the result is Bovada.  Let me first tell you about the competition, though.

Many online casinos are stingy when setting the odds on their games.  They think they'll make more money by setting the games tighter, so the player has less chance of winning, but they're wrong.&nsbp; When players lose at a tight casino too quickly, those players much less likely to return.  Contrast that with a casino with good odds: Players get to play longer, which is a good experience, so they're more likely to return and become long-term customers.

Bovada has always offered games with good odds, knowing that if your money lasts longer, you'll be a happier, loyal customer.  Among their offerings are:

  • Two blackjack games returning over 99.8%
  • Single-0 roulette
  • Full-pay Jacks or Better (99.54%)
  • Nine other video poker games returning over 99%

You don't have to play at Bovada, but wherever you play, make sure they offer odds at least this good!

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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.

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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: March 2021

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

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Odds of hitting a slot machine jackpot

Casinos are secretive about the odds of hitting a slot jackpot.  They ought to be required to post the jackpot odds, in the interest of fairness, but since they're not, right now I'm revealing what was heretofore largely unknown.

Jackpot odds can be gleaned from a slot's PAR sheet, which is the mathematical blueprint for a slot.  These are hard to come by, because manufacturers don't want you to see them, but I've been able to gather some from various sources, and listed them here.  This is the kind of thing you get only here on Easy Vegas, and nowhere else.

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
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
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.

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. 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.
  3. 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.

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.  Some of the ones listed above come courtesy of academic researchers who used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain them, and some from other sources, but none directly from the manufacturer or casinos themselves.  Years ago, a now-defunct online casino ( 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
Haunted House
1 in 1 million
Jack in the Box
1 in 250,000
Gold Pirates
1 in 250,000

How long you have to play to get the jackpot

It takes weeks to years of full-time play to hit a slot jackpot, on average.  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
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
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.  This is a huge scandal which hasn't gotten much attention, mostly because most people don't know how lousy the odds are.  But now you know.

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
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.

"Random" jackpots (Non-Payline Jackpots)

Certain rare machines give you the chance of winning the jackpot even if you don't line up the jackpot symbols.  These are typically referred to as "random jackpots", which is dumb because all jackpots are random, including the normal ones you win by lining up the payline symbols.  I refer to them as "Non-Payline Jackpots", which is much more accurate and descriptive.

There are two flavors of Non-Payline Jackpots:  those that must hit when a progressive meter hits a certain maximum, and those which don't.  For the first flavor, imagine a machine that must win when the meter hits $2000.  Someone will probably hit the jackpot before the meter gets that high, but if that doesn't happen, then as soon as the jackpot hits $2000, one of the players currently playing at that time will win the jackpot.  Years ago Fitzgeralds in Reno had a bank of machines with must-win jackpots, and armed with some back-of-the-envelope calculations, I estimated how high the meter had to get before it seemed like a profitable time to play.  Either my calculations were good or I was lucky, because I did well on those machines.  Once there was almost nobody else playing in that area, so I fed money into an island of about 10 machines, running around them in a circle and hitting the Spin button on each one.  Man, those were the days.

Largest Vegas slot jackpot

The slot with the largest jackpot in Vegas (or anywhere in the world, for that matter), is Megabucks.  It's a progressive slot, which means that the jackpot amount continually grows higher as people play it, until someone hits it.  The Megabucks machines are linked throughout the whole state, so the same jackpot is available at hundreds of different casinos.  As of this writing, the last time it hit was for $15.5 million, at Suncoast (an off-strip casino), on Christmas Eve 2020.  That was the largest jackpot in Vegas in eight years. (Fox 5)  When Megabucks hits, it reseeds at $10M.  IGT (the slot maker) has pages showing the current Megabucks jackpot amount and the jackpot amounts for its other progressive slots.  Here's a list of Megabucks jackpot hits from 2003-2014, and IGT press releases about Megabucks hits after that.

If you can't make it to Vegas, Bovada has dozens of progressive jackpot slots, with the biggest jackpot being $329k (Gold Rush Gus) as I write this.  If you play for real money, be sure to follow the rules for gambling smart.

Recent Large Vegas jackpots

Here are some large recent Vegas jackpot wins.

Some Recent Big Vegas Jackpots
Date Amount Game Location Source
News 3 LV
3-2-21 $905,755 Buffalo Grand Ellis Island KTNV
2-25-21 $302,000 Wheel of Fortune McCarran Airport USA Today
12-24-20 $15,491,103 Megabucks Suncoast News 4
11-29-20 $278,318 Double Double Bonus
Progressive Reversible Royals
(video poker)
Red Rock Station
11-13-20 $927,929 Pai Gow Poker
(table game)
Planet Hollywood Best of LV
10-30-20 $251,404 Blazing 7s
(blackjack side bet)
Bally's Blackjack Online
10-26-20 $738,104 Mississippi Stud
(table game)
Flamingo KTNV
10-4-20 $531,639 Pai Gow Poker
(table game)
Aliante News 3 LV
9-24-20 $437,541 Wheel of Fortune Cosmopolitan KTNV
9-16-20 $789,062
Buffalo Inferno
9-6-20 $552,282 Pai Gow Poker
(table game)
Paris News 3 LV
8-22-20 $3,934,609 Dancing Drums Explosion Bellagio Yogonet
7-31-20 $480,850 Texas Hold-em Bonus Poker Flamingo KTNV
7-31-20 $1,982,517 Pai Gow Poker
(table game)
Caesars Palace KTNV
7-25-20 $320,000 Pinball (slot) Cosmopolitan CDC
7-23-20 $269,385 Wheel of Fortune The D Twitter
7-19-20 $873,511 Wheel of Fortune McCarran Airport News 3 LV
6-4-20 $670,637 Let it Ride
(table game)
Caesars Palace News 3 LV
3-29-18 $1,322,751 Wheel of Fortune Cosmopolitan has an older list of Vegas jackpots, but it hasn't been updated since July 2018 (as of March 2021), and doesn't include the 3/29/18 jackpot in my table above.

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.  (If you see a registration box, you can close it and continue without registering.)  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).

The domain name is for sale now on Sedo for $6,000 Buy It Now.
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Play these
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Play 777 Deluxe slot machine Play Koi Garden slot machine

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.

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

I like Bovada's practice games the best, because you can play right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's why Bovada is the only online casino that gets space on my site.  I hope other casinos will eventually start treating their visitors like human beings rather than walking wallets, but until they do, there's Bovada.  One click and you're in.

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