One of the main attractions of the online slots world is the wide selection of jackpots that can give you a life-changing score inside of a single spin. There are different levels of jackpots, but progressives get the most attention because they are the largest. In fact, progressive slot jackpots are responsible for all of the top wins in the online casino world, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who won seven figures or more on a single wager on any other type of game, even in poker where six-figure pots are common at the nosebleed stakes.
Progressives are the largest wins out there, so we're going to start with those. The way a progressive jackpot works is that it's started with what's called seed money, which is the money the casino or software company puts up to start off the jackpot. From there, a portion of every single wager on the game is added to the jackpot. This allows the jackpot to build over time until someone wins it. At that time, seed money is added to the game once again, and the process starts over.
Some games have multiple progressives. For example, if you look at the Marvel Jackpots series of games by Playtech, they all have four different progressives that have seed values at different levels. The smaller progressives are won more often, and the largest jackpot (always worth at least $100,000) hits the least often. You'll find multiple progressives in the world-recording holding Mega Moolah by Microgaming as well as the Mega Fortune slot by NetEnt that previously held the world record for multiple years in a row.
While progressives are popular, most games do not use them. Instead, you'll have static jackpots, meaning that the value stays the same. These jackpots are based on a multiple of your bet size. If you have a 25-payline slot where you're playing with $0.05 coins on each payline, then a top jackpot of 10,000x would pay out 10,000 times the $0.05 payline bet, or $500. However, if you changed your bet size so that you were paying $0.75 per payline instead, then you'd win $7,500. The idea here is that the size of the jackpot varies based on the size of your bet.
For progressive jackpot games, the size of the jackpot doesn't change according to the size of your bet. However, your chances of winning do scale appropriately so that a bet of $1 would have twice the chance of winning compared to a bet of $0.50, for example. This keeps things fair between players at different levels of stakes, and that's one of the most important things to understand about how progressives work in terms of the bet sizes being used.
Some games have certain requirements that have to be met before you're eligible to win a big progressive jackpot. This mostly applies to older games, especially classic slots, but plenty of video slots have requirements like this too. Normally you'll have to play with a certain type of bet size, either with at least one coin wagered on all paylines or even a total bet size worth over a certain amount. Playing these games without having the progressive activated means that you're losing a ton of value in terms of your overall payout rate, and that kicks the house advantage up to some pretty extreme levels.
If you're the type of player to chase big jackpots, then you need to make sure that you're meeting the requirements to qualify for the jackpot in the game you're playing. If not, then you could find yourself in a terrible position where you would have won a life-changing sum, but you didn't qualify for it based on your betting choices.