Slot Tutorials

Understanding the Dancing Drums Slot Machine

Major progressive on Dancing Drums at 88 cents
Written by Joshua

Dancing Drums is a popular casino game, which has been around a few years now and continues to get a lot of love from slot players. It follows as a spiritual successor of sorts to 88 Fortunes and 5 Treasures, games that have similar betting options and progressive, but Dancing Drums in some ways was perfecting the model the previous two games developed. In this article we’ll look at Dancing Drums, its bonuses and the amazing complexity of the game that makes for different playing options depending on the type of player you are.

Betting Options

Like its predecessors 88 Fortunes and 5 Treasures, Dancing Drums has two betting options. The top row is a “gold symbol” bet. By default, you have 1 gold symbol, which is coins. Any symbols that are not bet as gold symbols have a lower payout. You can bet up to 5 gold symbols, which means all the symbols are at their maximum payout levels.

Dancing Drums bet panel
Unlike many slots where you choose lines and the line multiplier, the top row on Dancing Drums is dedicated to a Gold Symbols bet choice.

Betting more than one gold symbol also unlocks the chance to “close the pot” and win a progressive. There are four progressive levels, one tied to each of the gold symbols 2-5. Betting more gold symbols unlocks more progressives:

  • 1 gold symbol (8 credits) – No progressives available
  • 2 gold symbols (18 credits) – Mini unlocked
  • 3 gold symbols (38 credits) – Minor unlocked
  • 4 gold symbols (68 credits) – Major unlocked
  • 5 gold symbols (88 credits) – Grand unlocked

As such, you don’t have to bet the max bet to qualify for the grand. But as you would expect, betting higher will give you higher chances at a progressive (although it appears, similar to other games where you can win progressives at any level, it increases your chances at winning A progressive, but not any specific one). More importantly, betting more gold symbols means a portion of your bet is going to feeding the progressive. Betting 88 credits for 5 gold symbols gives you no different of a line pay for many of the symbols than the 8 credits for 1 gold symbol – coins and poker symbols pay exactly the same. Where you get the boosted pay during regular line hits is for the premium gold symbols that have been unlocked, which can of course make a difference.

The second row of bets is your line multiplier. The credits you’re betting for the gold symbols is multiplied by 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 (the general configuration for this game). So if you bet one gold symbol x10, you’re betting 80 credits, have no chance at the progressive, but all line hits pay x10. Because the game is an any-ways pay, which means there’s no lines but instead pays as long as symbols appear in successive reels, and you can have multiple symbols appear in a reel, coin pays in that scenario can get pretty exciting.

The Bonus

You get to choose from five options when the Dancing Drums bonus is triggered.

Getting three drums and/or wild symbols in a minimum of the first three reels triggers the bonus. Getting four or five symbols does not offer a bigger bonus opportunity, but instead amplifies the triggering line pay. The bonus is a free spins bonus with a choice from five options:

  • 15 spins with a 3×5 reel set (243 ways to win)
  • 10 spins with a 4×5 reel set (1024 ways to win)
  • 5 spins with a 5×5 reel set (3125 ways to win)
  • 3 spins with a 6×5 reel set (7776 ways to win)
  • Mystery: any of the 4 spins options, and any of the 4 reel sets.
    • Worst outcome: 3 spins with a 3×5 reel set
    • Best outcome: 15 spins with a 6×5 reel set

This is effectively a choice in volatility. The 15 spins / 3×5 gives you more chances at smaller line hits given the limited reel set. The 3 spins / 6×5 option is a swing for the fences; line up a lot of premium symbols at the bet you’ve chosen, and you could have a massive win. The other two options are understandably somewhere in between. And mystery is potentially even more volatile than that! The true gamblers among us have trouble staying away from it, even when they’ve seen the worst option happen multiple times.

When you do the less gold symbols option, this voltatilty can be even more important – since you’re paying for line hits, getting a large amount of gold coins in a spin could pay extremely well. I once had a 200x bonus at 88 cents (which was all the gold symbols activated at 1x line pays) but virtually all of the pays were from coin symbols, meaning if I had done the same bonus on 80 cents (1 gold symbol activated, the coins, at 10x line pays), it would’ve been a handpay at that 80 cent bet. (I was still happy with the $200 win, of course!) And this was done with a 15 spin, 3×5 reel set arrangement, so you don’t need to go to the more heavily volatile to see a bonus.

Winning a Progressive

When the pot closes in Dancing Drums, you get to win a progressive, which is a predetermined win but is played out through the selection of coins.

When a wild symbol appears on the reels, you have a chance at closing the pot, which is how you enter the progressive picking screen. This pre-determined bonus has you choose coins until you find three of a kind. The chances of winning any progressive are not determined by your bet; instead, your chances of winning any progressive instead increase with a bet. As such, someone betting 88 credits and triggering the progressive has an equal chance of winning a grand as someone triggering it on 880 credits (the max bet on this machine). But those betting 880 credits will see the pot close more often.

One important thing to realize, like many games in this sort of format, is that the pot is a visualization that shows in rough terms how long it’s been since a progressive has been won – the more coins inside, the longer it’s been. It is not an indicator of how close the machine is to paying a progressive. Each wild symbol that appears is a chance; players have closed the pot back to back so the pot does not have to be overflowing to close. In fact, the pay table states such, so you don’t have to take my word for it!


This game is more complex than it looks on the surface – the two bet options let you choose if you’re interested in going after a big progressive, a big line hit, both or somewhere in between. Chasing one or the other can be done with reasonably small bet, starting at under $1. I think that diversity is one of the things that draws people back, as they learn more about it and find other ways to play it.

The success of this game has led to a number of successors, including Double Blessings, Dancing Drums Explosion and Dancing Drums Prosperity. You can see a more complete list of my Dancing Drums articles.

Dancing Drums Slot Machine Videos

Check out this video from The Slot Cats, where they play Dancing Drums, to see the game in action!

Diana Evoni played Dancing Drums and misread her bet, and her handpay win:

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.


  • So, when the coins fly up from the screen, that’s more $ into the progressive pot? I was very confused by that when playing this game in Las Vegas.

    • Thanks for your question! The progressives move up based on the wagers on your machine, or, if the machines are linked, the bank of machines. The coins flying up are just an animation primarily to entertain, unfortunately, and serve no other purpose other than to educate a progressive can be triggered on any spin where a wild appears.

      • Simple question! What exactly makes the pot close? I have played and it closed when it looks full and also it closes sometimes when there are only a few coins?????

        • Any wild symbol has the potential to close the pot. So when you see one, and the bats carrying the coins up to the pot, that’s what it is signifying.

          • i see. appreciate this comment Joshua.had similar case as Cindy, got me frustrated as well. it’s a lot clearer now, thank you, you’re helpful.

  • Hello Joshua, Thanks for your article. It’s been very helpfull. I have one question, is there a difference in playing 2 cents denomination and multiplier 1 (so 176 credits) or 1 cent denomination and multiplier 2 (also 176 cents). I think in payout it will not differ, but will it differ on chances getting the progressives?

    • Hi Paul! Thanks for the question. Since on pennies you’re betting at a 2x multiplier, vs. on 2 cents at a 1x multiplier, all things being equal (like payback settings) you’d likely have an improved chance of a progressive on pennies. This is because that you’re closer to the max bet, which has the best chances. Generally speaking a 2 cent Dancing Drums machine will have progressives that are double the penny, so playing at 5 gold symbols with a 1x bet on 2 cents would be the same progressive chances as doing the same on a penny machine.

      The one thing to keep in mind is if a progressive hasn’t hit in awhile, it could grow, and so it also may be advisable to compare the progressives. So if you see a 2 cent machine with a $50 mini vs. a 1 cent machine with a $10 mini, I’d play the 2 cents. However, if you have a 2 cent machine with a $30 mini and a 1 cent machine with a $30 mini, you should play pennies at that 176 bet to have a better chance of winning it.

      Hope that helps!

  • When selecting the coins on the progressive picking screen, do you have to bet the maximum (880 credits) in order to win the top jackpot or can you win the jackpot on a minimum bet (88 credits).

    • As long as you have the five gold symbols selected (which as you note starts at 88 credits), you are eligible for the grand jackpot. The game can go as low as 8 credits with one gold symbol, but at that level you aren’t eligible for any jackpots. Each additional gold symbol activates another jackpot. Hope this helps!

  • I’m trying to find a high limit Dancing Drums in Las Vegas. Has anybody seen 25¢ denomination?

    • Hi Elizabeth! I haven’t personally seen one at quarters; I’ve definitely seen dimes at the Cosmo. Hopefully someone else can respond if they see it, and if I happen to spot it I’ll let you know!

  • Do you know if the progressive is predetermined? WMS is not clear on this. I know usually when they don’t show what’s under the unpicked symbols, it’s usually predetermined. Just curious

    • Hey Adam – I do confirm in the article it’s predetermined. Two ways you can tell in this bonus:

      1. There are 12 items, which theoretically are three for each of the four progressives. If it were a true pick, your chances of winning the Grand would be equal with the Mini – but we know in practice that’s not even close to the case.
      2. As you note, it doesn’t show the unpicked items. While not a perfect way to tell, paired with the above it basically confirms it.

      Hope that helps!

  • For the bonus feature, do you think your selection of 15 games x 243 ways, 10 games x 1043 ways, or mystery changes the outcome of the final win? ie: is the bonus round a pre-determined payout as well regardless of the bonus selection?

    • Hi Brandon – generally speaking in scenarios like this, the outcomes are not determined at the time of selection – it will hit the RNG throughout the free spins as well. So your pick matters in that you’re choosing how volatile a bonus you wish to play – the less spins and larger reels are harder to win but can win bigger if you do line up, whereas the more spins/smaller reels is prone to offer more small wins throughout a longer bonus.

  • Thank you for all the information. Now lots more about this slot machine makes sense after reading your articles and comments to the questions. You are so knowledgeable and a wealth of information.

    • Hi Barry, I’m not sure the question, but the picking bonus is predetermined, which means whatever progressive was meant to be awarded when you enter the screen is the one you’ll win, regardless of bet.

  • Thank you. I was playing $.88 when the pot opened up and I picked the symbols that was the three for the top prize of $15,000 but I only received $47.00. Was that an error on the machine or was it because I only played $.88 ? If I was short changed is there any way I can check with the casino that they can check back on the records of that machine after 2 days or do I wright it up as a loss.

    • Hi Barry – I get what you are asking now. There are bets that can box you out of certain prizes, but you wouldn’t be able to flip them around when in that scenario. Depending on how long ago it was, the casino may or not be able to check the logs, but it’ll be way too late to replay the scenario out, and keep in mind malfunctions void pays, so I don’t think you’re likely to see anything out of it even if they can prove something went wrong.

  • What does it mean if you get a 3 y3llow drum 🥁 bonus trigger. Does this open you up for a larger pay? How?
    Also how significant is a 5 🥁 drum bonus trigger, someone told me to always choose
    3 or 5 bonus games when this happens, why?

    • Hi Joan! The number of bonus symbols does not have any impact on the bonus that follows on the Dancing Drums series – it just pays you more for the trigger. Regarding the differences in drums, there are a number of sequels, each a bit different:

    • Hi Rick, The grand jackpot is the largest prize that can be won on 88 cents, although it could be won with a line hit that can add a bit extra. But more or less that would be the upper limit.

  • I remember reading in the rules that during the bonus, you can earn a 3 spin re-trigger by getting a drum symbol on reel 1 and reel 2. The rules also stated that the 5×5 grid during the bonus has drum symbols only on reels 1 and 5 making it impossible to re-trigger if you select the 5×5 grid. Is this true?
    I would love to see the rules screens again. I might have to wait for my next trip to casino.

    • The drums appear on all five reels in the bonus. The wild symbol (which can match with the bonus) only appears on reels 2, 3 and 4. So you can absolutely retrigger on the 5×5 version of the bonus!

  • Hi,
    Great info! I just discovered this fun game and won $648 on a bonus trigger. Can you further explain 3 spins for a possible 7776 possible wins. Is it 7776 divided by 3 spins? Can you tell me what that means? Players around me said they chose the ten spins because they were more likely to get additional spins. The 3 spins are the highest gamble with the potential highest payout ~ second to the mystery pick?

    • When you see something like 7776 ways to win, that is counting how many spaces on each reel and multiplying them. The three spin option has reels that are six spaces tall. So 6x6x6x6x6 is 7776. Theoretically if you got the exact same symbol on every space on every reel, you would win 7776 ways.

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