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Best of John Grochowski

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'Must award' jackpots

24 March 2016

For many years, I’ve been writing that slot machine odds are the same on every spin.

If the odds of the game lead to a jackpot about once per 10,000 spins, then your chances of hitting the jackpot on the next spin are 1 in 10,000, regardless of past results. If the odds lead to a bonus event about once per 60 spins, then your odds of going to the bonus event are 1 in 60 on the next spin, even if you had a bonus on your last spin, and even if you haven’t had a bonus in 200 spins.

That’s all true, but there are circumstances in which the odds change over the course of play. Those involve mystery jackpots, and the effects are most apparent to players on “must win by” games.

You can recognize such games by looking at the top box display. They feature progressive jackpots, and under or next to the jackpot amount you’ll find the message, “Must win by” or “Must award by,” with a number.

For example, on WMS Gaming’s Mystical Fortunes slot, you’ll find a “Minor” jackpot with the message “Must Award by $50.00” and a “Major” jackpot with the message “Must Award by $500.00.”
These are mystery jackpots, separate from the main game. You still spin the video reels, collect on winning combinations and launch bonus events.

You collect a jackpot when your wager pushes the total to an amount selected by a random number generator. The payoff isn’t driven by symbols, and the outcome of your main-game spin doesn’t matter. The machine will just tell you you’ve won the jackpot.

Let’s say the base jackpot on a hypothetical game is $200 and must be awarded by $500. The RNG selects an amount between those two values. If the percentage of your bet that’s added to the jackpot pushes it to that total, you win.

All amounts have an equal chance of being selected by the random number generator. However, the closer the jackpot is to the “must win by” amount, the better your chance of winning on the next play.

The reason is that the possibilities narrow as possible jackpot amounts are left behind.
The possibilities are in 1-cent increments so between $200 and $201 there are 100 possibilities — $200.01, $200.02 and so on.

With a $300 difference between the base and the maximum, that means the RNG has 30,000 possible jackpot totals to choose from.

If your bet increases the jackpot to $200.01, there is a 1 in 30,000 chance that is the jackpot amount. However, if your bet increases the pot to $201.01, then 100 amounts already have been eliminated, and the chance of your bet triggering the jackpot improves to 1 in 29,000.
If your bet pushes the pot to $250.01, you have a 1 in 25,000 chance that’s the winner. At $300.01, it’s 1 in 20,000.

At $499.01, there are only 100 possible winning numbers remaining — $499.01, $499.01 and so on up to $500 — so your chances are 1 in 100.

The closer the total is to “must win by” amount, the better your chances of winning the jackpot. About half the jackpots will hit for less than $350, and about half will hit for more than $350.

If you’re betting small, not every wager will move the jackpot meter by a full penny. If you’re betting big, you might move it more than one cent at a time. Regardless, the closer the meter is to the “must award by” total, the narrower the odds against you.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski