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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Don't Worry About Slot Jackpots That Might Have Been

13 August 2008

Here's a question that has been haunting slot players ever since the "one-armed bandits" were invented: "Would the jackpot that somebody just won at the machine I was playing a minute ago have been mine if I had just stayed there?"

Typical of the feelings that slot players experience when somebody else wins a jackpot on a machine they just left is the following e-mail this column received from a reader:

My husband and I were at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on July 4th. He was playing the Binionaire progressive slot that was around $163,000.00. After about $100.00 dollars and no action, he got up and moved to a totally different machine. After about ten minutes later, a lady sat down and put a twenty in the machine and hit the progressive. My question to you is if my husband continued to play would he have hit the jackpot? My husband's sanity is riding on this answer.

The answer is simple: He may have hit the jackpot, but his chances of doing so were the same as the player who did hit it – no more, no less.

Contrary to popular belief, slot jackpots are not events sitting in the machines just waiting for the next player to sit down and initiate a spin. They are totally random occurrences. The odds against hitting the jackpot on any one spin are the same on the next spin as they were on the previous spin.

His chances of hitting that monster progressive on the machine he moved on to were the same as they were on the machine he left.

This fact is made possible by the random generation of combinations of symbols that are common to all computer-driven electronic gaming devices. Games are programmed by the manufacturer for payback percentage and hit frequency, the foundation of which is mathematical probability.

There's another important fact about slot machine play to consider: Every slot machine is continually processing the combinations of symbols whether or not somebody is playing.

In the time it takes the previous player to leave the machine and the next player to sit down, tens of thousands of combinations, if not more, have been generated. It is only when someone initiates a play that the result is revealed.

The machine "locks in" on a combination the instant a play is made. It's just a matter of luck and beating tall odds for a player to catch the jackpot combination at the precise moment it is "flying" through the machine's internal computer "brain".

The odds against hitting the jackpot, depending of course on the machine, range from the hundreds of thousands to one to the tens of millions to one. As remote as that may seem, the possibility is always there every time you make a spin and the probability of hitting "the big one" remains constant.

So don't anguish over a big payoff that "should have been yours". Slot jackpots don't have owners. Playing the slots is an adventure in mathematical probability and of being in the right place at the right time.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp