Understanding the Odds of Hitting A Slot Jackpot

Many people dream of winning big at a casino, whether they prefer playing online or visiting land-based venues.

Some of the biggest jackpots around are found on slot machines, and stories of average players becoming multimillionaires with a single spin of the wheel are not uncommon.

However, unless you have a basic appreciation for the way that odds work, and how the element of randomness applies to slot games, you might misjudge your chances of winning a jackpot when you next play.

To clear up any confusion, here’s a look at how odds are applied to slots, and the importance of choosing games carefully so that you can match your desire to win big to your responsible gambling budget.

Slot design features explored

Before we go any further, it’s worth thinking about what it is about the way slots are designed which has an impact on the odds of winning the jackpot.

There are thousands upon thousands of machines out there, each with unique features and its own theme. However, the aspects that connect them are the reels and the symbols associated with them.

The more reels added to a machine, and the more symbols found upon these reels, the harder it will be for a player to make a winning match. Adjusting these elements let slot developers and casino operators alter how easy or difficult it is to beat the game.

Paylines are also a common feature of modern slot games. These add another requirement on top, as some top-level jackpots will only be accessible if you wager across every payline.

This is something of a simplification of what’s at play when it comes to slot odds. However, one of the best tips and tricks to winning on slot machines is to choose a game with fewer reels and symbols.

Slot variance explained

In the casino industry, the terms ‘variance’ and ‘volatility’ are frequently used as a stand-in for the word ‘odds’ to describe how much of a chance players have of winning.

Low, medium and high variance games are available, and you should be able to work out which category a particular slot falls into before you start playing.

Low variance games have better odds for players, but temper this with smaller jackpots. High variance games will pay out less often, but will reward the persistence of players that use them with larger jackpots.

Progressive slots are a good example of high variance games. The cumulative jackpots available can regularly exceed a million dollars, but winners only ever crop up every few months or even years.

Slot fairness considered

When talking about slot odds, it’s also necessary to dispel the myth that these types of gambling experiences are rigged to only pay out when specific conditions are met.

Lots of people assume that machines are hardwired to hold onto their jackpots for a set amount of time, only letting go when they have raked in more than a specific amount from punters.

In reality, this would be thoroughly unethical and also entirely illegal in the places where slot games are licensed and regulated.

The reason for this is simple; aside from being unfair to players, slot developers don’t need to rely on trickery to stop machines from paying out.

As mentioned, all they need to do to tip the odds in their favor is to use reels, symbols, paylines and other variables to their advantage. While some players have turned the tide, this tactic is otherwise pretty bulletproof.

The point, then, is that any player has the potential to win a slot jackpot on any spin of a slot machine’s reels. It could be their first spin that nets them a life-changing win, or it could be their thousandth.

Odds don’t preclude people from victory altogether, but just make it so that operators can run machines while making a profit and still provide mouth-watering jackpots to tempt customers to put some cash on the line.

RTP examined

The final term worth talking about with regard to slot machine odds is return to player, or RTP. This is a percentage figure that shows how much of the money which a game makes is paid back as prizes.

Developers can calculate RTP precisely because of the way odds and jackpots are balanced. And even if a machine offers 90% or more of its takings as prizes, that still leaves the casino with a tidy 10% earnings. The only expense is the machine hardware and the electricity needed to power it.

So as you can see, being familiar with slot odds and jackpots is a good way to play safely and responsibly, without setting your hopes too high or worrying about being swindled.

Written by Austin Crane

Austin is the principle web director for Untamed Science and Stone Age Man. He is also the web-director of the series for the High School biology, Middle Grades Science and Elementary Science content. When Austin isn't making amazing content for the web, he's out on his mountain bike or in a canoe.

You can follow Austin Crane