How often do slots hit the jackpot?

Slots and jackpots go together like peanut butter and jam, like pap en vleis… they’re the perfect match, made in random number generator heaven. But how often do they actually hit the jackpot? And how do you know it’s a jackpot, anyway?

What is a jackpot?

In gambling, a jackpot is a large cash prize that can be won by any player of the game. Jackpots are usually cumulative, growing as players put money into the game, until one lucky player takes it all.

Jackpots vs smaller wins

Online casino slots come in two distinct flavours – regular slots and progressive slots.

Regular online slots don’t usually have jackpots, as such. Instead, they have various fixed amounts you can potentially win, based on their paytable, reels, paylines, symbols, etc. These types of slots frequently pay out small amounts and, less frequently, the large amounts. They may refer to their maximum prize win as “the jackpot”, but, strictly speaking, it isn’t, because it is a fixed amount. Regular slot games are not network-linked, which means it’s just you playing against the game itself, and nobody else’s game play will influence your chances of winning directly.

Progressive slots, on the other hand, are network-linked and designed to offer players a chance at a huge jackpot. These grow over time, as players participate, and eventually, someone triggers the payout. Playing progressive slots isn’t a one-person-takes-all deal, however. Players can still win smaller prizes as they play, meaning everyone has a chance to walk away with something, even if it isn’t the jackpot.

Can you tell if a slot is ready to pay out?

The short answer is no. Slot games are controlled by a random number generator (RNG), which means every single spin is totally random and unpredictable, and no prior gameplay will influence your chance per spin. This goes for both regular and progressive slots. However, if you join a progressive slot when the cumulative jackpot is already fairly high, you are likely a lot closer to it paying out than if it has just recently paid out and is growing from scratch.

Does changing up games make a difference?

If you are playing regular slots online, it won’t make any difference if you stick to one game or shake things up to avoid boredom. The RNG means that any game can pay out at any time, whether it’s on your first spin, or your hundredth.

With progressive slots online, the jackpots are linked to specific games, so changing games means you no longer have a shot at the jackpot you were aiming for. That said, if you switch to another progressive slot, your chances remain much the same of winning that jackpot as for the original one. Again, this is down to the RNG, which doesn’t discriminate based on your time spent playing a particular game.

Can you trigger a jackpot?

The only real way to trigger a jackpot is to play the game… unless, again, you and Lady Luck have some arrangement we don’t know about, you sneaky thing. Jackpots on progressive slots and big wins on regular slots are always triggered by the RNG. There’s nothing you, as a player, can do to influence this. With progressive jackpots, there is usually a minimum threshold amount that it has to reach before the RNG will trigger a jackpot, but the prize itself can simply continue to grow beyond this point, until the RNG gets around to picking a random winner.


Tournaments are great for those seeking big wins and jackpots because they are usually time-limited, and the prizes must be won. The jackpots and wins, however, are usually paid out according to specific gameplay stats and aren’t directly linked to the game’s paylines. While playing, you may win small or even large amounts as with regular play, or you may win nothing yet still qualify for the jackpot prize, based on your statistics. Tournaments can be played around a regular slot, a progressive slot, or even a group of games from a particular designer – each tournament is unique.

A final word

While it may not be strictly possible to predict when or where a game will pay out, or to know how often a particular game will hit the jackpot, you can improve your odds by getting to know each game before playing. Things like variance, volatility, and return to player (RTP) percentage can give you an idea of what your chances might be. If you’re looking for a great new game, check out our game reviews, as well as our list of the top games for the year.


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