How Often Do Progressive Jackpots Hit? (Hot and Cold Slots)

How Progressive Jackpots Work and Their Hit Frequency

Chasing the ultimate win? Progressive jackpots on slot machines offer the largest payouts, drawing gamblers eager to find out just how often these elusive jackpots hit.

Key Takeaways

  1. Jackpot Frequency Varies: The frequency of progressive jackpot hits varies based on the game, size, and network of the jackpot.
  2. Random Number Generators: Each spin is an independent event, making it difficult to predict exactly when a jackpot will be won.
  3. Jackpot Trackers: Online tools like and Jackpot Graphs can help track how often specific jackpots hit and their average payout sizes.
  4. Gaming Strategy: Knowing a jackpot’s average hit time can guide when to play, but remember, gambling should remain a form of entertainment.

How often does a progressive jackpot really hit?

Progressive jackpots can hit at any time since each spin is random, but tracking tools can provide averages like every 6 weeks for certain games, aiding players in strategizing their gameplay.

Average Hit Times and Payouts

Jackpot Name Average Time Between Hits Average Payout Size
Mega Moolah 6 weeks $5 million
King Cashalot 10 weeks $1 million

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Understanding Progressive Jackpot Frequency

The frequency with which progressive jackpots hit varies widely depending on the game and the specific jackpot involved. Here are some general points to consider:

  1. Type of Game: Slot machines, video poker, and other casino games can all have progressive jackpots. Each type of game has different odds and mechanics that affect how often the jackpot is won.
  2. Size and Network of the Jackpot: Larger jackpots that are connected across multiple machines or casinos (often called networked or linked progressives) generally hit less frequently than smaller, local jackpots that are contained to a single machine or casino.
  3. Odds of Hitting the Jackpot: The odds of winning a progressive jackpot can be very low, often similar to the odds of winning a lottery. For example, the odds might be in the range of 1 in 10 million or more for the biggest jackpots.
  4. Seed Value and Contribution Rate: The “seed value” is the minimum amount a jackpot resets to after it’s won. The contribution rate is the percentage of each bet that goes towards the jackpot. Both of these factors influence how quickly a jackpot grows and how often it can be expected to hit.
  5. Historical Data: Some slot machines might have track records that show an average frequency. For example, smaller jackpots might be won several times a month, while multi-million dollar jackpots might only hit once every few months or even years.

Some gamblers like to chase the big win on slot machines. Progressive jackpots are the best opportunities for those gamblers to do so. And those gamblers often want to know the answer to this question: how often do progressive jackpots hit?

When you know the answer to this, you can time your play on the game so that you’re playing right before it’s statistically likely to hit.

For example, if you know that a specific progressive jackpot hits, on average, every 6 weeks, and it’s been 7 weeks since the last hit, you know it’s time to play.

This analysis of when a progressive jackpot is due has a lot to do with the idea of slot machines running hot and cold. I’ll cover that in this post, too.

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How Do You Know When a Progressive Slot Machine Is Hot or Cold?

A hot slot machine game is one that’s hitting wins and jackpots more often than usual. A cold slot machine is one that’s not hitting very often compared to its average hit frequency.

Being hot or cold is a function of being a random game.

I know slot machine gamblers who refuse to play a game if they don’t hit a win in their first 5 spins. I know others who use different numbers — 7 or 10 or 12. John Patrick used to call this a naked spin limit in his book on slots.

The idea is that if you hit too many naked spins in a row, you move on to another machine. This idea is crucial to Hal’s strategy for red screen slot machines, in fact.

But that’s not the only way to decide whether or not a progressive slot machine is hot or cold.

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How Often Does the Progressive Jackpot Hit on this Game?

You can find websites which track how often progressive slot machine games hit. If you’re a fan of the “play an overdue slot machine” strategy, these kinds of sites are perfect for you. They usually include other data, too, like the average size of the win on these games.

I like to look at 2 different data points when I’m looking at such sites.

The first is the average amount of time between wins on the progressive.

The other is the average size of the jackpot when it hits. offers one such tracker. It has a nice feature that grades online progressives according to how hot they are. You can find this data by choosing a game from the dropdown box.

When I wrote this post, Mega Moolah was a 2/5, which means that it’s not even warm. King Cashalot, on the other hand, is a 5/5, which means that it’s burning and ready to drop. The site also tracks Major Millions and Poker Ride. As near as I can tell, those are the only 4 jackpots being tracked on that page, though. The site says it tracks 331 separate jackpots, but I couldn’t find the trackers for them.

My favorite jackpot tracker is at Jackpot Graphs. This site has been around as long as I can remember, and I’ve been writing about the online casino industry for a long time. They claim to track over 574 online jackpots.

On their “all jackpots page”, you can find a list of all the jackpots they’re tracking. It’s a sortable table, too, and if you click on the column with the American flag, you can limit your search to just those jackpots that are friendly to United States gamblers.

Some of these games include:

Key Points about Progressive Slots

Topic Details
Independence of Spins Each spin is independent; previous spins do not influence the likelihood of winning on subsequent spins.
How Progressive Slots Work Operate like regular slots but take a small percentage of each bet to increase the jackpot size over time.
Profitability for Casinos Casinos profit from the difference between the payout odds and the actual odds of winning.
Jackpot Size and Odds While the odds of hitting a jackpot remain constant, the jackpot size increases, altering the payback percentage slightly.
Using Jackpot Trackers Trackers estimate when the jackpot might provide a positive expectation, though with significant uncertainty.
Strategy for Playing Set a budget based on what you can afford and how often you visit the casino. Keep gambling sessions short and controlled.

So, do progressive slots really turn “due” at some point?

I’ve read some writers who maintain that the idea of an overdue slot machine is a myth because every reel spin is independent—however many spins it is since the machine last showed the jackpot-winning combination really mean nothing. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

Obviously, most people don’t think like this. Mathematically, though, this makes sense.

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How Does a Progressive Slot Machine Work?

Progressive slot machines really don’t work much differently than any other kind of slot machine. Everything’s based on a random number generator. It is the casino’s chance to make money through the difference in the payout probability and the chances of winning.

This is an example:

You’ve got some kind of combination of symbols, the average one to come up in 1000, and it’s programmed to pay off at 750 for one.

Can you see, under such circumstances, how the casino is making money without cheating?

The difference, indeed, most of the time, is one of scale: most jackpots simply require the right combination of five symbols to be lined up on a single line, while a progressive jackpot more usually pays out if a player manages to hit said combination on every payline. In addition, the size of a jackpot on a progressive machine grows over time. This is because of the programming that designs the machine to take a tiny percentage out of each bet and “feed” it into the jackpot.

This, of course, lessens the overall payback percentage for the game.

Eventually, a progressive jackpot is likely to get big enough so that it might offer a positive expectation. Suppose the prize for the top jackpot on that earlier example has grown to be 1500 for 1 instead of 750 for 1.

And as you will be winning that jackpot in one of every thousand spins, on average, you are in a mathematically profitable situation.

Here’s the problem:

You never know what chances you have to hit it.

This is where the jackpot trackers come in. They don’t really measure how hot or cold the machine is, but they can help you guesstimate when the jackpot will be large enough to give you a positive expectation—albeit, with a HUGE degree of error.

How Much Effect Does the Previous Spin Have on the Next Spin?

You might read gambling writers discussing how odds that had taken place at the previous spin had no bearing at all on the odds for the next spin.

This is flatly true of the flat top machines.

But it is not all true for a progressive slot machine.

Here is why:

The odds of winning the jackpot remain the same between one spin and another, no matter what happened on the previous spin.

But, then again, the percentage of payback is the ratio of payouts made on the game with the odds of winning. Being the progressive jackpot, it also increases the payback percentage every time the reels are spun.

This is nitpicky, and with numbers this great, it is a fault not noticeable.

But it is in the nature of the gambler and the gambling writer to be nit-picky.

One thing is clear: no matter how many times you turn a slot machine into a poker game, it’s never going to be a game of skill.

How to Play Progressive Slots Games?

Now, if ever you are just within the proximity of a casino and have the will to play in a progressive jackpot slot machine, here is my take:

Set a budget and stick to it. Base it on what you can afford and on how often you visit the casino.

And keep it simple.

Let’s say that you are playing to win the jackpot of Megabucks and visit the casino once a week. You could easily throw just $21 down the drain a week in gambling. This means you come to the Megabucks machine, put in your money, and spin seven times with $3.00 per spin. Win or lose, up or down, after the seven-time spinning, you walk away from the machine. That is a reasonable strategy for playing. On the contrary, in the casino, you are free to come every day with the same budget, where you make one spin per day.

But let’s say you can only make it to the casino once a year. With the same amount to spend, say $1000, you will then wager 300 spins on Megabucks. That’s only about half an hour of play, so play slowly. You can probably stretch it to an hour. And you might also want to bear in mind that apart from progressive machines, there could be some other games you want to take a risk on. In that case, you might want to budget more money for that activity.

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How often do progressive jackpots hit?

It depends on the game. I’ve seen reports that games like Major Millions, an online jackpot, hits every 6 weeks or so. Other games, with smaller jackpots, hit more often.

If you visit some jackpot tracker sites, you can find the actual averages for the games you’re interested in. Some of them even score the jackpots on how “due” or “overdue” they are.

Take all this with a grain of salt, though. Gambling, even on progressive slot machines, should always be a recreational activity for entertainment. No one really makes a living playing slot machines.


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