Myths vs. Reality

Do Full Pots/Fireworks Mean a Progressive is Due?

Dancing Drums pot is full of coins
Written by Joshua

Let’s start diving into some of the myths around progressives. A popular one relates to the Asian-themed games with 88 cent bets, which show meters, pots, fireworks, etc. filling as certain symbols that could trigger a progressive are landed, with the chance of hitting a progressive.

Over time, as it’s been longer and longer without a progressive win, the pots, fireworks, etc. get fuller and eventually look like they’re ready to burst. So that means a progressive is near, right?

Status: The chances of winning a progressive are the same on every spin, assuming the same bet.

Visual Indicators Show History, But Game RNGs Ignore History

Games like 88 Fortunes, Dancing Drums, Da Ji Da Li and Fu Dao Le all have progressives that can be triggered randomly. Each has a symbol that pops up, which is the trigger chance. Whenever that symbol appears, they send something up to the pot, fireworks, etc. and either they explode or not.

As the game goes longer without a progressive being triggered, the meters get fuller. For the player, it can indicate how long it’s been since a progressive has been won. However, because Vegas-style slot machines use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the outcome of a spin, and previous spins have no impact on the outcome of the next spin, those meters are functionally useless.

However, slot designers know it has a psychological impact on players. Many players will viscerally react to the full-looking meters and chase the progressives, thinking it must be ‘due’ to hit. What they’re doing is getting you to expose more money to the house edge, which will inevitably over time take more than it’s paying you out, progressives included.

What Matters for the Progressives

Games designed in this math model do have a few things that are worth caring about:

  • Higher bets will mathematically have a progressive chance at a higher frequency than a lower bet. The odds of winning a given progressive are the same, so higher progressives are just as hard to hit once triggered, but the ability to trigger a progressive increases with bet.
  • While how long it’s been since a progressive has been triggered doesn’t matter, the size of the progressives, as always, do. If you have a choice of machines, each with their own progressive amounts, sit at the one with the highest progressives. The short-term expected payback of a machine with higher progressives is higher accordingly, since you’ll win more when they do hit. Once they hit, the advantage is gone and you can move on if you’re playing under advantage play circumstances. The challenge for these style machines is they many times are linked.
  • The progressive wins are predetermined at the moment you spin. So don’t waste time picking symbols, especially if the progressives are higher than average. If someone else next to you triggers it around the same time, and they reveal their win first, they’ll take the higher prize and reset it. If you win it right after, you’re getting the minimum. I’ve more than once taken a high progressive away from someone because they were moving slowly and I revealed my win faster.

So while it doesn’t matter how long between progressive wins a machine is experiencing, there’s always ways to play smarter.

Have you taken a big progressive away from someone because they were moving too slowly? Share your experiences in the comments!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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