Progressive jackpot

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A progressive jackpot is a jackpot (highest payoff) for a gaming machine (usually a slot machine or video poker machine) where the value of the jackpot increases a small amount for every game played. Normally multiple machines are "linked" together to form one large progressive jackpot that grows more quickly because multiple players are contributing to the jackpot at the same time.


Jackpot meter

The amount of the jackpot is shown on a meter as a money value. Usually the jackpot can only be won by winning the combination with the highest payoff, e.g. a royal flush at a video poker game, or five of the most valuable symbols (lemons, cherries, alligators, etc) on a slot machine. Once a player wins the jackpot, the jackpot resets to a preset minimum level.

The amount on the jackpot progresses (increases) a small amount for every play on a connected machine. The amount that the jackpot advances by is set by the casino ("the house"). For example, on a machine whose house edge is 5%, a generous jackpot contribution might be 1% (one fifth of the expected profit). The house is prepared to contribute some of the profit of a jackpot linked machine because players are attracted by the:

  • - relative novelty of progressive jackpots (generally, only a small fraction of the house's gaming machines will be connected to a progressive jackpot)
  • - constantly changing meter, often displayed on large, fancy LED displays
  • - large amount of the jackpot, which eventually motivates more players to play the game.

Advantage play

Advantage players who only play when the progressive jackpot provides them with a positive expectation situation still generate revenue for the casino. This is a unique situation where the player has an advantage over the house, yet the casino is still making a profit from the player. This situation occurs because the bulk of the progressive jackpot has been bought and paid for by the other players' contributions to the jackpot.


Savvy gamblers sometimes organize teams of players to play machines where the progressive jackpots generate a positive expectation situation. Such teams often displace ordinary players, making the machines unavailable just when they are at their most interesting. Team members will often have cell phones and work in shifts, calling another teammate to replace them when they're ready for a break. Some casinos have a policy of "no team play", and will eject players suspected of playing in such teams.


How to qualify for prossive jackpot

Usually only players who wager the maximum number of credits per play qualify to win the jackpot. All wagers, whether or not they're max credit bets, contribute to the jackpot though. As a result, a game which requires a 10 credit wager to qualify for the progressive jackpot will tend to have the progressive jackpot rise to higher levels (relative to its break-even level) than a game that requires only a 5 credit wager to qualify.