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The Odds of Winning Megabucks

8 August 2009

By John Robison

Mr. Robison:

I have seen various estimates as to the odds of winning megabucks. I e-mailed IGT asking what the odds were and they did not respond. I believe your estimate is around 1 in 50 million. Someone else used this thinking, "Assuming one number out of 256 (reels) were mapped to each jackpot symbol the odds of hitting the jackpot would be in 1 in 256^3 or 1 in 16,777,216.)" Why would this reasoning be flawed?

Is there a greater chance of winning the Megabucks progressive jackpot on the $1-$3 machines as opposed to the computerized penny machines? I was thinking that since the overall payouts on the penny machines would be greater, so the chance of hitting the progressive jackpot on those machines would be lower.


Dear KS,

The reasoning is not flawed. In fact, it's perfect. The reasoning, that is. The flaw is in the number of virtual stops on each reel.

Reel-spinning Megabucks machines have 368 virtual stops on each reel. When you cube that, you get 49,836,032. Each reel has one virtual stop assigned to the jackpot symbol, hence the chances of hitting the Megabucks are about 1 out of 50,000,000.

As for your second question, I assume you're referring to the penny Megabucks video slots. I haven't seen the PAR sheet for them, so I can't say what the odds are on them. I don't think the overall payouts on them are greater -- more frequent maybe, but not greater. The long-term payback on them should be about the same as on the reel-spinners. I would think that your chances of hitting the jackpot on them would be about the same as on the reel-spinners, too.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots