Occasionally on slot forums I see someone discussing how they’ve played slots for years, bet decently large, and never has won a handpay. They wonder if they’re doing something wrong that’s leading them to not have one.
STATUS: You’re not doing anything wrong, other than avoiding betting absurdly high to eventually guarantee an arbitrary scenario to occur.
The handpay number of $1,200 (in most parts of the U.S., anyway) is an arbitrary number established decades ago. There have been efforts to change the value to reflect inflation, but right now it’s still an impressive number to win on a slot machine.
But let’s say you spin an average $3-5 a spin. You would need a 240x-400x hit to get a handpay. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish at any bet level, so the chances of such a scenario would be relatively rare to begin with.
Most slot manufacturers also know of the $1,200 threshold and design various jackpots to flirt with that number but rarely crossing it. Major jackpots on the many link games are designed to get up around the $1,000 range but rarely run up beyond it (if they can at all). Then there’s games that are designed to not handpay at all.
Both the slot manufacturers and casinos know that a handpay, while exciting, also takes a player out of contention for awhile (except those who have things like Fast Pay nowadays, but most of the time only players that handpay a lot will bother to set it up). As such, while they want to make it possible, they don’t want to make it routine for average sized bets.
I’ve even seen a video poker machine with a pay table at the $5 denomination that purposely sets the straight flush payout at 239 credits, to insure it comes in at $1195.
So you shouldn’t stress too much if you’ve never had a handpay; if anything it saves you dealing with paperwork. Instead, celebrate the wins that are a big multiple of your bet. Anything 100x or above tends to be infrequent enough to be celebrated, and 250x and above is pretty rare.
Most games have big win celebrations that kick in between 10x and 25x, and even those are infrequent enough, so celebrate the wins you get and don’t worry too much about the lock-up of a machine because of an arbitrary number.