Looking for the best chance to win a big jackpot is practically the reason for existence for some slot machine players. Among the most frequently asked questions about slots are, "How can I tell when a slot is ready to pay a jackpot?", "Is there anything you can do to make a machine pay a jackpot?", "How can I track a loose slot?" and "Are you better off playing a hot machine that has just paid a jackpot or a cold machine that is due to pay a jackpot?"

And there's a fifth question: "Aren't there more jackpots in crowded casinos?"

The answers to the first four:

  1. "How can I tell when a slot is ready to pay a jackpot?": Results are random and there is no way to tell when a machine is going to pay off.
  2. "Is there anything you can do to make a machine pay a jackpot?": There is nothing you can do, no strategy you can follow that will force the random number generator to produce a jackpot number.
  3. "Are you better off playing a hot machine that has just paid a jackpot or a cold machine that is due to pay a jackpot?": There is no tendency for hot machines to stay hot or cold machines to stay cold. Neither strategy is more likely to lead you to a jackpot.
  4. "How can I track a loose slot?": You really can't.
  5. "Aren't there more jackpots in crowded casinos?": Let's explain in detail.

It is true that there are more slots jackpots in crowded casinos. However, you are no more likely to hit a jackpot in a crowded casino than if you're the only player on the floor. 

That runs contrary to the feelings of some players, a number of whom have made their opinions known via email with comments including these;

  • "I feel luckier in a crowded casino. When I see others winning around me, I just feel like something good is going to happen."
  • "You know when they announce over the P.A. that someone has won a big jackpot at slots? That's always in a crowded casino."
  • "Everybody knows you have to go at the crowded times. That's when they hand out all the money."

Nonetheless, feeling lucky and actually being lucky are two different things.

There are more slots jackpots when more people are playing, but that’s because there are more players, more spins and more chances at a big payoff

For individual players, the chances of hitting a big slot jackpot are the same regardless of how many others are playing.

Let’s make up a hypothetical situation. Imagine a casino filled with slot machines that pay their top jackpot an average of once per 10,000 spins.

Slot Machine results are random, so it’s possible for the jackpot combination to show up two spins in a row, or not at all for 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 or even more spins. But as a long-term average, the slots jackpots in our hypothetical casino show up an average of once per 10,000 spins.

Now let's stipulate that on a slow Wednesday morning, 100 people are playing, each playing for 1,000 spins (free spins included)

In all, there are 100,000 spins. With average results for these machines, we could expect about 10 jackpots.

Depending on where you are in the casino, you might or might not see a slot player win big. The big win could come right next to you, or it might be all the way across the casino floor or in a different room or nook.

Next, let's say you come back on a Saturday night with 1,500 people each playing 1,000 spins.

Instead of the 100,000 spins on the slow Wednesday, there are 1.5 million spins.

This time, average results would yield 150 jackpots.

Jackpot table

Those 150 slts jackpots come in the space as the 10 jackpots when there are fewer players and more empty machines. With more jackpots in the same space, there’s a much better chance you’ll witness a big win or two or three.

With all those big jackpots, the lights and sound effects from the machines and the hubbub with slot attendants, supervisors and casino security paying off the big winners, it will feel as there’s a whole lot of winning on the busier night

But notice that whether the numbers are 10 slot machines jackpots for 100 players or 150 jackpots for 1,500 players, it’s still an average of one jackpot per 10 players.

Your chances of winning a jackpot are the same in the busy casino as in the smaller crowd, no matter how much winning might be going on around you.

The notion that there’s a better chance to win on busier nights is an illusion.

Real-world conditions vary. Not all slots within a casino have the same jackpot hit frequency, most paying a lot less often than once per 10,000 spins. On a game with a big multimillion-dollar jackpot like Megabucks, the jackpot chances are closer to 1 in 50 million.

So your actual chances of hitting a jackpot will differ than in our hypothetical, which was designed for easy arithmetic.

But the principle remains the same. There are more slots jackpots on crowded nights, but the individual players' chances remain the same regardless of crowd size.

For nearly 25 years, John Grochowski has been one of the most prolific gaming writers in the United States. He’s been ranked ninth by GamblingSites among the top 11 gambling experts at Gambling Sites and his Video Poker Answer Book was ranked eighth among the best gambling books of all time.