Ah, jackpots. Ask even those who don’t know much about slots and they’ll probably recognise the word and know what it means in an instant without any help. I mean, it says a lot that “hitting the jackpot” has become a common saying that refers to winning a huge sum of money regardless of how it’s achieved.
It helps that the image that comes to mind is pretty striking – flashing (usually neon) lights, thrilling music coupled with the sound of coins falling like rain, long and loud screams of excitement, a cloud of colourful confetti and finally a giant check with lots of zeroes on it being brought out. Who can think of that and not go wild with picturing themselves experiencing all those things? Certainly not me or any of the others here at The Slot Show!
Okay, so maybe getting front row tickets to our favourite Broadway performances plus backstage passes might make us feel roughly the same way but that’s neither here nor there.
For those of you who watch The Slot Show (and I’m going to assume you do otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this), you might remember that we’ve done an episode on jackpots. It was our third episode, in fact, and in it, we highlighted a few titles that fall under this category as well as cheered on a few lucky souls who scored those coveted big wins on them. However, I thought the topic deserved just a bit more coverage than what we could cram into the video so I here I am with more facts and more games!
Who Is Jack and What’s So Great About His Pot?
This is probably going to surprise you but the while it’s one of the first words that come to mind when you think about slot games, ‘jackpot’ didn’t originate from them. In fact, it’s way older than even the oldest slot machine… and I mean way old like in the 1870s.
You see, there’s a version of poker – now the most common version of video poker, in fact – called Jacks or Better which operates like the traditional five-card-draw poker. Where it differentiates itself and incidentally how it got its name is the rule where if a player doesn’t have a pair of ‘jacks or better’ during the first round of betting, they have to pass. Don’t misunderstand though; this doesn’t mean a player needs to have a pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces. (Poker can be a bit confusing like that.) What it actually means is that the cards in a player’s hand has to be able to beat a pair of tens according to the poker hand rankings.
“But that just covers the ‘jack’ part!” I hear you cry out. “When did the ‘pot’ part get added?”
Well, the word ‘pot’ has long been associated with the total amount of money bet on a single round of a card game and this meaning might be as old as card games themselves. Jacks or Better was no different with its pot starting to grow the moment the first player who meets the requirement places their bet. Once this happens, everyone else can also bet regardless of their hand. If nobody has jacks or better, the hand has to be re-dealt and the pot grows again. Additionally, no one can win with a hand that ranks lower than three of a kind so if that happens, the pot grows once again. When this happens several times in a row… Well, it’s safe to say that pot will be pretty big when someone finally wins it and that’s how it came to be called a ‘jackpot’.
Fast forward to the 1900s when the first slot machine makers were in the process of revolutionising the grandfather of the online slots we love today: In 1916, one such trailblazer by the name of Mills Novelty Company ‘invented’ the first ever jackpot machine which regurgitated all the coins inside it if certain symbol combinations appeared on its reels. This jingle-jangle sound of cascading coins was so iconic that when video slot machines which didn’t use coins were introduced in 1975, many slot lovers didn’t like them as much as their predecessors for that reason alone.
The next ‘jackpot revolution’ happened in 1986 when numerous slot machines were linked using electronic systems that added a fraction of every bet made on them to create a shared “super jackpot”. This amount typically grew to several million before one lucky individual came along and swept it all up, resetting the jackpot to its set starting value so that a new cycle could begin.
Fun fact: There was a point in time where the term ‘jackpot’ became slang for “trouble with the law” but that’s all in the distant past now which I think is a really good thing for us jackpot fans.
I’m Sold on Jackpots! Where Do I Start?
Well, first off, this may or may not surprise you but there are actually two kinds of jackpot online slots and they naturally function like their two physical grandfather versions. Confused? Let me clarify what I mean with some backtracking and naturally a few cool examples you can try out to see what I mean!
The First Ever Jackpot Machine
Okay, so remember the version that started it all with its fountain of collected coins gushing out if a certain combination of symbols showed up on the reels? While they obviously don’t store coins and therefore can’t spew said non-existent coins out when the occasion calls for it, there are quite a few online slots that have their own way of giving you that same rush.
When you load up these jackpot games, you’ll find that many of them have two to five little boxes usually at the top of the screen with numbers in them and some combination of the labels Mini, Minor, Major, Mega and Grand. As you might expect, the values of the numbers will match their labels on a fixed scale but what is less obvious at first sight is that these values aren’t set; they’re actually dependent on the amount you bet on any given spin.
Let’s have a look at a couple of examples so I can illustrate my point.
Here we have our sponsor EmuCasino’s exclusive 5-reel, 25-payline slot game Eddy Dundee and its three jackpot levels which are Mini, Major and Mega. In order to get a crack at any of them, you’ll have to wait for at least 6 of the game’s Big Knife symbols to land on the reels. When this happens, the Big Knife Respins feature will trigger and the Big Knife symbol will appear on all the reels with either a random value, MINI or MAJOR on it.
Once the Big Knife Respins feature starts, all the non-Big Knife symbols will vanish and a total of 3 respins will kick off. Every time a new Big Knife symbol fills up an empty space, the respin counter will be reset to 3. If all 15 positions on the reels are filled with Big Knife symbols, congratulations are in order because the Mega Jackpot worth 1,000 times your bet will be yours! Now THAT’S a big win!
Great Rhino by Pragmatic Play
Next, we take a look at Great Rhino, a 5-reel, 20-payline slot game by Pragmatic Play which has a Major and Grand jackpot. In this wild ride of a game, two or more full stacks of Great Rhino symbols will trigger its Super Respin Feature. This works nearly identical to Eddy Dundee’s Big Knife Respins feature in that you get 3 respins, the other symbols will vanish and any new Great Rhino that fills an empty space will reset the respin counter.
If there are a total of 14 Great Rhino symbols on the reels when the respins come to an end, you’ll win the Major Jackpot which is worth 375 times your bet instead of the respins’ payline wins. Have all 15 positions filled with Great Rhino symbols, however, and the Grand Jackpot worth 500 times your bet will immediately be yours. Now here’s a stampede you definitely want to see happen up close!
The “Super Jackpot” Machine
Now let’s move on to the type of jackpot people usually think of when it comes to slot games where everyone’s bets feed a shared pot and any one of them could win it with just one lucky spin. In the world of online slots, these are called progressive jackpots since the value of the jackpot increases or ‘progresses’ with every bet made on it. Just as “super jackpot” physical machines are electronically connected together, progressive jackpots have the bets made by everyone playing that particular slot game contribute to the games’ specific ever-growing jackpots.
Super Fast Hot Hot by iSoftBet
Let’s kick this off with a slot game that’s really going to take you on a trip down memory lane if you happen to be a long-time reel-spinning veteran: Super Fast Hot Hot, a title by iSoftBet with 5 reels and 25 paylines. With its retro – or, as we slot fans call it, old skool – aesthetics from the fruit symbols to the digital number font used for its jackpot value, this game delivers a blast from the past like few others can.
To win that hot jackpot you see almost constantly growing on your screen, you’ll need to bet the highest possible amount and have 5 jackpot symbols land on a winning payline. If you happen to be that lucky soul who achieves it, don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling like you’re in a Vegas casino screaming your head off as confetti rains down on you.
Mega Moolah, Mega Moolah Goddess, Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah by Microgaming
Interestingly, there are unique exceptions to this rule with the biggest one of them being Mega Moolah… or to be more specific, the Mega Moolah series by Microgaming. Yes, there is in fact more than one Mega Moolah slot game out there with each one boasting a unique theme that’s quite different from the original. However, every single one of them is connected to the same jackpot – called the Mega Moolah jackpot, naturally – so you actually have a few options to choose from if you want it.
The one that started it all, Mega Moolah, is… well, a good place to start especially if you like having virtual adventures in an African safari. Meanwhile, Mega Moolah Goddess is the one for you if seeing ancient Egypt at the height of its glory tickles your fancy. Last but not least, fans of Alice in Wonderland can see if the Mad Hatter will be willing to help them win big in Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah. Both Mega Moolah and Mega Moolah Goddess are 5-reel, 25-payline titles while Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah has 5 reels and 243 ways to win.
That’s all the jackpot facts I have for you this time! If reading this has inspired you to try and see if you’re lucky enough to win one of those crazy big jackpots, you know which games you should try! Good luck and keep those reels spinning!