Slot Machines & Standalone Progressives

I hope I’m using the term “wongable” correctly. It means there’s a point in gambling, usually referring to blackjack card counting, where it is a good idea to play a game with a higher EV according to certain rules or progressions in the game.

With slot machines, no matter what someone tells you, slot machines “hit-ability” cannot not be determined due to the Random Number Generator. But, in blackjack, deep penetration of the shoe causes the EV to rise in favor of the player, especially card counters.

With slots, we play without the sure knowledge of its pay out percentage.  It would be great if we could, especially with progressive slots.

A progressive jackpot game is one in which the size of the top jackpot grows with every spin of the reels. Before choosing a progressive slot machine, players need to be aware of the fact that playing such a machine is not the same as playing other slots. A certain portion of every bet is accumulated to form the progressive jackpot. In standalone progressives, the jackpot point is reset at a certain amount once the jackpot is hit.

There are 3 kinds of progressive slots:

IGT’s Hot Shot is an example of a “Local” Progressive

  • Standalone progressives – A standalone progressive jackpot only grows when you play that individual machine.
  • Local area progressives – A local area progressive is networked with a group of other slot machines within the same casino. Play on any of those machines causes the jackpot for all those games to grow. If the jackpot is hit on any of those machines, the jackpot on all the machines resets to its starting point.
  • Wide area progressives – Wide area progressives are the games that are networked across multiple casinos. These are the games where the jackpots get high enough to compete with lottery games. The biggest example of a wide area progressive is Megabucks. The jackpot for this game starts at $10 million and grows until it’s hit. The jackpot has grown to over $30 million on at least 2 different occasions.


A standalone progressive slot machine has a jackpot ticker on the game, but only bets placed on that specific machine feed the jackpot. This was, at one time, the only kind of progressive slot machine game available, but most progressives feature multiple machines that are linked together. Still, so many standalone machines were manufactured that these games are still easily found in casinos throughout the world.

Quick Hit Slot Machine

The very popular “Quick Hit” Slot Machines can be standalone or hitched together in a group as a local progressive.

These days, standalone progressives can be found produced by all of the major slot machine makers. With any progressive slot, it’s important to understand that a percentage of all the money played into the machine is considered in the payoff. This means that the actual payback percentage will be less on the other winning symbols and in some case the payback percentage on the Progressive machines will be less than other machines in the casino.  The higher the progressive amount (as in wide area progressives), the lower the payout percentage.

For this reason, while standalone slots won’t usually pay that “life-changing” jackpot, they can also keep you in the game longer than larger progressive slots. As already explained above, a certain portion of every bet is accumulated to form the progressive jackpot.


So many people, when playing progressive slots, don’t want to be aware of that machine.  There are many differences in progressives.  For example, some (most Wide area progressives) machines need to have the maximum bet played to qualify for winning the progressive jackpot. In standalone progressives, the jackpots are possible at any wager, but there are exceptions.  You must read the machine’s info to know if you are wasting your money. It’s like playing video poker on 4 coins instead of 5.  By doing so, you take away the chance of the inflated Royal Flush payout and diminish the % by 2%.   A player is permitted to make any other bet than the maximum one, but on slots that only payout the progressive with MAX BET, this will bring them only a small part of the progressive jackpot.


The popular IGT “must hit by” feature on “Pirate Ship”

These machines reset at certain amount every time it’s hit.  It then begins to slowly build to a set point, chosen by a second RNG (thanks to John Grochowski for that info).  It may go all the way to the “must hit by” point or hit anywhere in between.  On these machines, max bet is not needed, but a larger bet will make the amount grow quicker.

But how much quicker?  Here’s my suggestion – If it’s close, to the “must hit by” amount,  jump on it.  But when I say close, I mean VERY close.  Here’s an illustration of how slowly the jackpot on these machines grow.


Ainsworth Rumble Rumble Progressive Slot Machine

Ainsworth Rumble Rumble Progressive Slot Machine

One summer, my wife and I stayed and played at Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.  There was an Ainsworth “Rumble, Rumble” standalone progressive penny machine – lowest bet was 50 cents, highest $2.50.  It had to hit by $500 and when I sat down, it was at $491!  So I played, and I played – for two days it seemed I was the only one playing.  It reached $495, $497, still didn’t hit.  We figured out that every $5 in caused to Jackpot to move 1 PENNY!!!!  That’s right, ONE CENT!!!!  It hit after $498.  I had lots of good play at $1 & $2 a pull – I still lost money, but not much for two days of play.

Moral of the story – don’t expect it to hit, and if you are in it for the jackpot, make sure you have a large bankroll and you are already close to the Jackpot.  These Jackpots don’t grow quickly, but can hit on any wager.

As you walk around the casinos, see if you can spy these standalone progressive slots and compare the jackpots.  It not only is smart when playing these type of progressive machines, but it may dictate how smart of a wager you will bet.

That’s all for now.



Wheel of Fortune Slot Machines – Happy 20th Anniversary




Yes, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine.

When the casino is quiet, you can hear it call out to you ….. “Wheel of Fortune.”

It has been twenty years since players first heard that familiar audience chant—“Wheel…of…FORTUNE!”—come out of a slot machine. It’s manufacturer, International Game Technology (IGT), now owned by Scientific Gaming,  has released sequel upon sequel, in video, reel-spinning and hybrid versions, and with every new version, the original concept seems brand-new.

This three wheel video slot is popular in casinos at this time.

This three wheel video slot is popular in casinos at this time.

Peter Hand is quoted as saying “The innovation that made this game a success was the wheel secondary game. When the WoF was introduced, very few slots had a secondary game. The video slots with secondary games that are common today didn’t exist back then and the addition of the wheel was a great attraction. WoF was not the first slot with this feature, but combining it with the popular and instantly recognizable Wheel of Fortune theme and a huge wide area jackpot set it apart from the rest.”

60b05a47971085f6e2a8506b5bac1e0dThe original slot machine has the look and feel of a standard slot. The slot game had 3-reels with a “spin the wheel” moment when presented with a chance to win the jackpot. The button featured on the slot game is like the one used in the actual TV game show.

It’s not just playing it that attracts people, it’s a people watcher as well.  Upon hearing that famous chant “Wheel…of…FORTUNE!” people usually turn to see where the wheel will land, literally stopping to watch the end result.

Stan Rogers, in his article “HISTORY OF WHEEL OF FORTUNE SLOT” states that “There are over 200 land-based slot variants of Wheel of Fortune. The more basic games include Five Times Pay; Double Diamond; and Red, White and Blue. It is not easy to determine the actual dates the variants came out but some of them are listed below. Note that Wheel of Fortune slot machines have bets of 1¢, 25¢, $1, $5, $25 and $100.

The first video version.

The first video version.

Wheel of Fortune variants played in most brick and mortar casinos have so many different variations in reel numbers, reels vs. video, sizes, and number of screens that any casino, small or large, usually has many different games on the property.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find a traditional land-based casino that doesn’t feature the Wheel of Fortune slots game (in some form) prominently on the floor.

One of the newest coming to casinos soon - Wheel of Fortune® Double Diamond® True 3D

One of the newest coming to casinos soon – Wheel of Fortune® Double Diamond® True 3D

You might find that it’s well worth playing; most fans of the game show also love the slot machine. The bonus features and design of the game are as slick and polished as any other gaming machine you’ll see anywhere in the world.

Online variations, or free online versions of your favorite WofF are also available at the click of a keystroke.

PLEASE NOTE  – as in all linked progressive slots, you MUST play MAX bet to have a chance at the big Jackpot.

This franchise of slots can be expected to continue to re-invent itself with additional 3D, player control, and interface innovations that keep pace with the ever changing slot machine landscape.  But today, we can say “Happy Anniversary” to IGT and


That’s all for now.