Progressive Jackpots: Worth a Punt or Best Avoided?

When you play online slots of any kind, you hope to walk away with a prize. Perhaps not a particularly huge prize, but something for your efforts, nonetheless. Where progressive jackpots are concerned, some of the prizes on offer are borderline ludicrous. In fact, strike it lucky when playing for progressive jackpots and you could be looking at a life-changing sum.

Over the years, progressive jackpots have made quite a few people rich beyond their wildest dreams. With the average online slot, you’d be thrilled to take home a prize as modest as £100. With progressive slots, jackpots can often climb into six or even seven figures.

Whatever your tastes and preferences, it’s impossible not to be tempted by progressive jackpots. When they’re waving life-changing sums of cash in front of you, the whole thing becomes hard to resist. But does this mean that progressive jackpots are worth your time and money?

As an alternative, would you be better spending your cash on fixed jackpot slots, rather than progressives?

What Are Fixed Jackpot Slots?

As the name suggests, a fixed jackpot slot is a slot machine (virtual or otherwise) with a fixed top prize. In a working example, let’s say the most you can win from any combination of symbols is £700. No matter what you do and how many people play the slot, you will never win more than £700 in a single payout.

This is the way the vast majority of online slots work. They have a fixed jackpot specified on the pay-table, which is the biggest prize that can be won under any circumstances. Irrespective of how infrequently the slot pays out, you cannot and will not win more than this as a jackpot prize. And every time somebody wins the jackpot, it stays at this same level – exactly £700.

How Do Progressive Jackpots Work?

With progressive jackpots, even the sky is the limit. To a certain extent, there are no limitations whatsoever to the size of the top prize. The jackpot is determined by how many people play the slot and their combined ‘contributions’. The more people that pump money into the slot, the bigger the jackpot grows.

Some progressive jackpots are limited to one specific slot. By contrast, others accumulate across extensive networks of slots from the same brand. In the case of the latter in particular, it doesn’t take long for top prizes to reach hundreds of thousands of pounds. In some instances, even millions.

Another difference with progressive jackpots is the way in which the jackpot is reset to zero (or thereabouts) after it is collected. After which, it gradually builds towards a life-changing sum once again, waiting to be picked up by someone with luck on their side.

Why Bigger isn’t Always Better

On the surface, you’d be forgiven for thinking that progressive jackpots were obviously the way to go. If there’s even a slight chance of walking away with six or seven figures, it’s worth getting involved…right?

With progressive jackpots, the huge sums of cash up for grabs are almost irresistible. Not only this, but somebody at some point in time has to take home the jackpot. Hence, you could say that you have just as much chance as anyone else, which is true to an extent.

Nevertheless, it’s important to consider the likelihood of walking away with such a huge prize. In a purely statistical sense, you’ve about the same chance of winning the lottery as you have taking home a huge progressive jackpot. With each spin, the odds are stacked against you to a degree that borders on the impossible. As with the lottery, it’s case of trying your luck against insurmountable odds, but accepting that you probably aren’t going to win.

As a result, playing for progressive jackpots is best approached in the same way as buying a lottery ticket. Feel free to try your luck from time to time, but don’t invest heavily in what’s more or less impossible. Even if you blow your entire budget on one or more progressive slots, you’re still unlikely to propel yourself into a new tax bracket.

A Question of Variance

Of course, none of the above should be taken as an indication that progressive jackpots aren’t worth your time. For one thing, somebody must and will take home that top prize at some point. In addition, the enormous jackpot isn’t the only prize to play for. More importantly, there’s the fun-factor of the whole thing to take into account.

Determining whether or not progressives are for you is as simple as considering your budget and risk appetite. Every online slot has its own volatility level – aka variance. This refers to the likelihood of the slot paying out a prize with any given spin. Some slots pay prizes on a regular basis, though tend to be modest with the sums up for grabs. By contrast, others go surprisingly long periods without paying out a penny, though are considerably more generous when they do.

The former being low-variance slots, the latter being high-variance.

In the case of progressive jackpots, you’re typically looking at the highest-variance slots on the market. This means that while the prizes available are unbeatable in size, they’re also the most difficult to access. With a progressive jackpot, you could easily find yourself playing for hours on end, without winning a penny.

On the plus side, strike it lucky (eventually) and you could be looking at an impressive cash prize.

Are Progressive Jackpots Worth the Effort?

Realistically, only you can figure out whether progressive jackpots are right for you. If you’ve the bankroll and risk-appetite to cope with the highest-variance games, you’ll be in your element with progressive jackpots. Likewise, if you’re simply thinking of having an occasional spin to see if it’s your lucky day, go for it.

By contrast, anyone with a limited bankroll who’s out for frequent wins should probably look elsewhere. Always remember that as a rule of thumb, the bigger the prize, the less likely you are to walk away with it.

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