Progressives: Let the slot player beware

2014-03-13T00:00:00Z Progressives: Let the slot player bewareJohn G. Brokopp jbrokopp@comcast.net nwitimes.com
March 13, 2014 12:00 am  • 

When you walk into a casino, generally one of the first sights that will catch your eye is the brilliantly lighted display of a bank of progressive slot machines.

The jackpot on the meter builds right before your eyes as people chase the dream of winning a lumberyard of greenbacks for a toothpick investment.

Casinos make concerted efforts to entice people to play progressives. It’s the nature of the gaming business. Under no circumstances should you chase jackpots. Going into a gaming session with “pie-in-the-sky” hopes can prove disastrous to your bankroll. Playing with a mindset that “Somebody is going to win, why not me?” has been the downfall of many a slot player.

The truth of the matter is that with a majority of progressives, the odds against winning the jackpot are astronomical. For every person who wins a six-figure progressive, tens of thousands go home disappointed.

When you are dealing with monster odds against you but still face the temptation of taking a chance at capturing lightning in a bottle, always bet a little but not a lot.

Play a portion of your gaming bankroll. If you win something, that’s fine. If you lose, at least you can say you gave it a shot.

How many times have you heard about someone winning a huge jackpot and read the quote: “I just played a few dollars and hit the jackpot two minutes after sitting down at the machine.” Sound familiar?

Giving it “a shot” is all it’s really worth when the odds are millions to one against you. Just as with the lottery’s million dollar games, your chances of winning really don’t increase that much whether you buy a single ticket or spend hundreds of dollars.

Pumping a ton of money into a progressive to chase a jackpot just doesn’t make good gambling sense.

There are exceptions to the rule. The first is video poker progressives. Unlike reel and video slots which have payback percentages that vary, the odds against winning at video poker are based on true mathematical probability. Pay tables on video poker machines differ, which makes some machines better to play than others. Astute players know this and scout the best machines.

Since the probability of getting a royal flush is something like one in every 42,000 hands, you have pretty much the same chances of getting one on a progressive machine as you do on a solitary stand-alone unit.

If the payout for a royal flush on a regular quarter machine is 4,000 coins ($1,000) and you spot a quarter progressive with a jackpot of over $1,000, you may be better off playing the progressive, depending upon how big the jackpot is.

You must also take into account the pay table because you can get eaten up percentage-wise on full houses and flushes if the payouts are sub-standard.

The other exception occurs with traditional reel slot progressives. Some are programmed to “hit” infrequently.

A number of years ago, over the course of many months, I watched a quarter progressive grow to over $100,000, a staggering sum for that denomination. It finally hit, but only after tens of thousands of players lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are ‘rapid hit” progressives. The chances of winning are increased by the computer program. Over the long term it may be hit an average of once every day, or once every two or three days.

The ability to track progressives can work to your advantage.

BONUS ROUND-UP:

BLUE CHIP: March is a good month to sign up for B-Connected membership. New members will receive $5 off at Options Buffet and earn 5-Times slot points. Earn 1,000 base points the same day you sign up and you’ll receive a 12-pack of soda. Just visit the B-Connected promotions area between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

FOUR WINDS: Saturday, March 29, is the day for the $150,000 Drive into Spring promotion. W-Club members will have the opportunity to win a 2014 Mercedes S550 Sedan or a share of $30,000 in cash. Hourly drawings begin at 3 p.m. (EDT) through 10 p.m. There will be a $10,000 winner drawn at 10 p.m. The car will be awarded at 9 p.m. Earn one free entry daily now through the day of the promotion.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The casino’s “Choose Your Fortune” promotion will be held every Saturday this month for a chance for Total Rewards members to win up to $5,000 cash. Players are invited to swipe their cards at the promotional kiosks every promotion day between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Everyone will receive a Reward Credit Multiplier up to 10-times plus entries into the Fortune Money Bag Drawing at 9 p.m.

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET: Don’t miss the $10,000 Half Court Shot promotion at the Hollywood Stadium Sports Bar. Enter for your chance to play March 16 through April 7. Every “Final 4 Winner” will get a chance to take a half court shot during the college hoops tournament finals on April 7. Make the shot and win $2,500.

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