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Last Updated: August 19, 2016

Mystery Progressives

Introduction

A mystery progressive, or mystery jackpot, is one that is guaranteed to hit by a certain point. So, there are two good things about a large jackpot:

  1. The jackpot itself is larger.
  2. The probability of winning it is greater.

As with any progressive game, at some point the jackpot becomes large enough to sway the odds in the player's favor. This page will examine these "target points" on some new slots by WMS with mystery jackpots. If you're interested in mystery progressives on Ainsworth slots, please see my separate page on that.

General Rules

Following are generally how mystery progressives work.

  1. The jackpot starts at a defined minimum amount.
  2. A point at which the jackpot will hit is randomly chosen on a uniform distribution between the starting value and maximum possible jackpot.
  3. A certain percentage of money bet, known as the "meter rise," will be directed towards the jackpot.
  4. When the meter crosses the predestined win point the player will be awarded the jackpot.

The WMS jackpot games are different from the usual Mystery Jackpot games in two ways:

  1. There are two jackpots.
  2. The meter rises by the amount won, not the amount bet.

On the WMS games, it is my understanding that the Minor jackpot starts at $25 and must hit by $50. The Major jackpot starts at $200 and must hit by $500. Based on my own play, the rate of meter rise, for each meter, is 0.00582 times money won.

These two images below show two versions of the pertinent rule screen on the WMS games.


Math

The general formula for the Target Point can be given as:

t = m × (h + r) / (h + 2r), where:

t = Target Point
m = Max jackpot
r = Rise of meter rate
h = House edge of game (taking into consideration the average value of the progressive)

An unknown piece to this equation is h, the house edge of the game. No casino is going to tell you exactly what a given slot machine is set to. So, you may have to resort to industry averages. The following table shows the averages for Clark County, Nevada (where Las Vegas is). You can see for penny slots, which Mystery Progressives tend to be on, the overall house edge is 10.77%.

Clark County Slot Win 2012

Denomination Casino Win (pct)
$0.01 10.77%
$0.05 5.96%
$0.25 5.74%
$1.00 5.64%
$5.00 5.51%
$25.00 3.97%
$100.00 4.73%
Megabucks 12.89%
Multi-denomination 5.32%
Total 6.58%

Source: Nevada Gaming Control Board, Gaming Revenue Report for December 2012 (PDF, see page 6).

Although the information from 2001 is a bit dated, you may wish to also consider the returns of random games I sampled in my page on Slot Machine Odds in Las Vegas. All things considered, I think it is safe to assume a house edge of 8% to 12% in Las Vegas. The nicer the casino and closer to the Strip the casino is, the higher the house edge will generally be. Outside of Vegas, you're on your own.




Click any image for larger version.

WMS Target Points

The math for the WMS games gets rather complicated because of the two jackpot and that they go up by amount won, not amount bet. So, you'll have to take it on faith that the tables below are correct.

The first table shows the Target Point for the Major jackpot, according to the house edge on the game and the amount of the Minor jackpot. In most situations, it will need to be about $482.

Major Jackpot Target Points

Minor
Jackpot
House Edge
14% 12% 10% 8% 6%
$25 $484.82 $482.32 $479.03 $474.47 $467.77
$26 $484.78 $482.27 $478.95 $474.36 $467.59
$27 $484.74 $482.22 $478.87 $474.24 $467.40
$28 $484.70 $482.15 $478.78 $474.11 $467.19
$29 $484.64 $482.08 $478.69 $473.96 $466.96
$30 $484.59 $482.01 $478.58 $473.80 $466.69
$31 $484.53 $481.92 $478.46 $473.62 $466.40
$32 $484.45 $481.82 $478.32 $473.42 $466.07
$33 $484.38 $481.72 $478.16 $473.18 $465.69
$34 $484.29 $481.59 $477.99 $472.92 $465.25
$35 $484.18 $481.45 $477.78 $472.61 $464.74
$36 $484.06 $481.28 $477.55 $472.24 $464.13
$37 $483.92 $481.09 $477.27 $471.81 $463.41
$38 $483.75 $480.86 $476.93 $471.30 $462.53
$39 $483.55 $480.58 $476.52 $470.66 $461.44
$40 $483.30 $480.23 $476.01 $469.85 $460.04
$41 $482.99 $479.78 $475.35 $468.81 $458.18
$42 $482.57 $479.20 $474.48 $467.40 $455.60
$43 $482.01 $478.40 $473.26 $465.38 $451.78
$44 $481.21 $477.23 $471.44 $462.27 $445.53
$45 $479.95 $475.35 $468.43 $456.84 $433.44
$46 $477.72 $471.89 $462.52 $444.97 $400.25
$47 $472.64 $463.29 $445.49 $398.35

The second table shows the Target Point for the Minor jackpot, according to the house edge on the game and the amount of the Major jackpot. In most situations, it will need to be about $48.

Minor Jackpot Target Points

Major
Jackpot
House Edge
14% 12% 10% 8% 6%
$200 $48.50 $48.25 $47.93 $47.49 $46.84
$210 $48.49 $48.25 $47.93 $47.48 $46.83
$220 $48.49 $48.25 $47.92 $47.47 $46.82
$230 $48.49 $48.24 $47.92 $47.47 $46.81
$240 $48.49 $48.24 $47.91 $47.46 $46.79
$250 $48.48 $48.23 $47.90 $47.45 $46.78
$260 $48.48 $48.23 $47.90 $47.44 $46.76
$270 $48.47 $48.22 $47.89 $47.42 $46.74
$280 $48.47 $48.22 $47.88 $47.41 $46.72
$290 $48.46 $48.21 $47.87 $47.40 $46.70
$300 $48.46 $48.20 $47.86 $47.38 $46.67
$310 $48.45 $48.19 $47.85 $47.36 $46.64
$320 $48.45 $48.18 $47.83 $47.34 $46.61
$330 $48.44 $48.17 $47.82 $47.32 $46.57
$340 $48.43 $48.16 $47.80 $47.29 $46.52
$350 $48.42 $48.15 $47.78 $47.26 $46.47
$360 $48.41 $48.13 $47.75 $47.22 $46.41
$370 $48.39 $48.11 $47.73 $47.18 $46.34
$380 $48.38 $48.09 $47.69 $47.13 $46.25
$390 $48.36 $48.06 $47.65 $47.07 $46.14
$400 $48.33 $48.02 $47.60 $46.99 $46.00
$410 $48.30 $47.98 $47.54 $46.88 $45.82
$420 $48.26 $47.92 $47.45 $46.74 $45.56
$430 $48.20 $47.84 $47.33 $46.54 $45.18
$440 $48.12 $47.72 $47.14 $46.23 $44.55
$450 $48.00 $47.54 $46.84 $45.68 $43.34
$460 $47.77 $47.19 $46.25 $44.50 $40.02
$470 $47.26 $46.33 $44.55 $39.84

Example: You suspect the Minor jackpot may be high enough to play. The Major jackpot is at $300 and you assume a house edge of 10%. The table above shows the Target point is $47.86.

Further Reading


Written by: Michael Shackleford

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