The Trade Off for Playing Progressive Slot Machines
Do not pump your hard earned cash into live or online progressive slots before you read this!
Every slot machine enthusiast has their own idea what what games are and are not worth playing. Some say classic reel slots are the only way to go. Others swear by video slots with multiple paylines – the more the better! More yet will tell you that the chance to win a big jackpot is the only thing worth paying for.
That last one has been a major area of contention between so-called strategists for years. Some players absolutely love progressive slot machines, and will play nothing else. But more players refuse to play these games at all, if not despise their presence on the live or virtual casino floor.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about how progressives differ from traditional slot machines, why so many players feel negatively towards them, and more importantly, if there’s any merit to it.
How Progressive Slot Machines Work
Every slot machine is played by spinning a few reels and lining up symbols on the screen. If enough symbols match in the right positions, it awards a pay out. If not, you lose your bet. Most of these games have a jackpot prize, that being the highest amount that’s paid for achieving some special combination or winning a bonus game.
A progressive slot is no different, except that its jackpot grows progressively larger with each bet that’s placed. The jackpot continues to rise in this fashion until it is won. Then it resets to its original amount, called the “jackpot seed”, and begins to grow again.
Live & Online Progressive Slots: The Trade Off
The general consensus about progressives is that players must trade some common qualities for the chance to win that massive prize. For instance, a standard video slot might trigger its most endearing feature, on average, once in every 75 spins. A progressive may be less generous, triggering its feature every 125 spins on average. These are just examples, of course.
Some progressives may also require a higher bet in order to be eligible to unleash the big jackpot prize. This is a notorious trait of many progressives. If the minimum bet is $0.25, anyone can place that bet and play the game, but it could be that only those who wager at least $1 per spin can win the progressive. Or, in the case of the world-famous Mega Moolah online progressive from Microgaming, any bet size can deliver the big jackpot, but the higher the bet, the greater the odds of doing so.
The theoretical return to player (RTP) of a progressive game is usually lower, too. Where the typical online slot pays out at 96%, a progressive has to carry a lower RTP in order to build (and continually rebuild) its jackpot. Using the same example as above, the Mega Moolah has an RTP of just 88%, more comparable to the standard (non-progressive) video slots found at land-based casinos.
To Play or Not to Play…
Sow what’s the verdict? Are progressive slot machines the crème de la crème, or are they blood-sucking money pits designed to target the unwitting? The truth is, no one is right or wrong here. The right game can be different for each player.
Perhaps the best way to look at it is like this:
The only game worth playing is the one that brings you the highest level of entertainment, without provoking irresponsible management of your finances.
If you can play progressives responsibly, winning less on average, and still enjoying the experience for that thrill of the “What if…?!”, then by all means, do it. If you have a smaller bankroll and would rather experience small wins at a higher rate, then that’s the right choice for you.
If you do wish to play live or online progressive slots, the key is to understand what qualities you may be trading when you play them. And for that, you must read and understand the pay table. Know what it takes to trigger the jackpot, and what size bet may be required to be eligible to win it.
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