Reaching For The Stars: Progressive Jackpot Slot

Question: Whenever we go to a casino, my wife heads straight for the progressive jackpot slots where she sits for hours, playing max credits and hoping to hit a monster jackpot. It's been more than two decades since we got married and it's never happened for her. Every time she heads home with nothing left; is there any way I can help her see the futility of this?

Very few people set foot in a casino hoping to lose money; everyone dreams that they will get lucky and end up a winner. Most people are happy if they simply walk out with more money than they came in with, even if it's only a few dollars. But a small amount of players are like your wife, they either want it all or nothing.

What is unfortunate for these types of players is that casinos are set up in such a way where it is easy to come home with nothing, but next to impossible to score a huge jackpot. Winning a multi-million dollar progressive jackpot is about as improbable as winning the lottery, and even hitting a smaller jackpot of $10,000 is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, if that.

I'll bet that while your wife is losing all her money shooting for the stars, she's probably not having any fun playing, either. It's a shame, because playing in a casino should be about having fun first, with winning money a wonderful, but not essential part of the experience.

If your wife wants to break out of her habit of going for broke and have a much better time in the casino, she needs to learn to set reasonable limits on her bankroll, both for winning and losing. In addition to setting a loss limit, she should learn how to set an achievable win goal and learn that there is nothing wrong with walking away with a few hundred dollars in winnings.

Casinos thrive on creating the illusion that the big score is just around the corner, and that the next spin of the reels or roll of the dice is going to change your life. Of course, that isn't true, but it can be very hard to remember that when in the casino itself. By setting reasonable limits and goals, your wife can enjoy her time in the casino far more and have a far better chance of winning. And who knows, maybe she'll finally hit that progressive jackpot slot when she least expects it.

Question: Every time I go to the casino with my sister she always insists that she is ahead, even though I watched her cash out less than she put in. Why does she think this?

No environment in the world can cause more confusion and delusional thinking than a casino. Any time a player wins, it's a big deal that forms a powerful memory, especially because it is so unlikely. But losses are simply filed away and forgotten about, skewing players' concepts of winning and losing.

This is especially true of slot players; with cash represented as credits it can be hard to figure out exactly how much you have at any one time. Many players lose track of what they put in, and only remember what they take out. For instance, a player might think that they are up because they put in $20 and cash out $30, all the while forgetting that they put in an extra $20 somewhere along the line and are actually $10 in the hole.

What your sister should do is write down exactly how much she enters the casino with and compare that to the amount she leaves with at the end of the day. She might be quite surprised with the result.

About The Author

Insider casino expert Mark Pilarski worked nearly every job in his 18 years in the casino industry, from dealer to cashier to shift manager. Armed with that experience, he created the legendary Hooked on Winning casino advice audio series and he currently lectures and writes gambling columns for various websites, newspapers, and magazines.

  • "Ideally, you want to bet big when you are winning, and small when you are not. This is harder to do than you think because you can never be sure when a streak is going to end."

  • "The lights on the top of slot machines aren't just for decoration. Called 'candles', the colour of the bottom light denotes the machine's denomination: nickels yellow, quarters yellow, and dollars blue."

  • "Across from the stickman sits the boxman. The boxman is in charge of the craps table, he watches the dealers to ensure correct payouts, verifies the dice, and controls the drop box."

  • "Make sure you know what the betting limits are before you sit down at a blackjack table. Each table has a small placard telling you the minimum and maximum bets for that table."

  • "If you turn over a playing card, the chance it will be red is 0.5, or 50%. If the casino was fair, it would pay you $1 for a $1 bet. But if a casino pays you $0.90 instead, it has a 5% edge."

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