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Close Encounters Winning Kind

On slots and video poker, anything can happen—and sometimes does

by John Grochowski


Whether  you’re playing slots or video poker, all things are possible on all plays. The random number generator has a full complement of numbers available every time you hit the but-ton, so back-to-back jackpots, bonus rounds or royal flushes are possible.

That doesn’t make them at all likely. Many more random number combinations will lead to losers and small winners than to big bucks. In 9-6 Jacks or Better where royal flushes turn up an average of once per 40,391 hands, the chances of two in a row are about 1 in 1.6 billion.

Most players will never have that happen in their lifetimes, nor are they likely to see it happen to neighboring players. Still, casinos get billions and billions of plays, and some players, somewhere, sometime will have lightning strike twice. And the odds are a lot shorter on more frequent winners. On a slot with a quick-hit jackpot that comes up about once per 5,000spins, the chances of two in a row are 1 in 25 million—no everyday occurrence, but better than six times as frequent as consecutive royals. With a pick’em bonus event that occurs once per 80 spins, you’ll get them back-to-back about once per 6,400 spins. If you play such video slots very often, you’re going to see the occasional rapid return to the bonus round.

Whether it’s a 1 in 1.6 billion shot or 1 in 6,400, it’s still exciting when it happens. Even if the big hits aren’t back to back, winners within a few plays of each other still give you a story to be told and retold, along with helping to pad your pocketbook.

Readers have shared their close encounters of the winning kind before, inspiring others to tell their tales.


Several years ago at Harrah’s Joliet (in Illinois) when machines accepted coins but kept your wins on credit meters, I was playing a $2 slot, $1 at a time, when I hit triple bars for a $480 jackpot. I had to wait for an attendant to pay me and clear the credit meter to where it was before the pay out.  I played $1 to clear the jackpot and then decided since I had just won I would play $2. As I played the second spin, up came triple bars again for $960. The attendant had barely stepped away when the bells went off again.  She was surprised that I had won a second time so soon–but no more than I was.

My next story is about video poker.  I had gone to Harrah’s Joliet on a Sunday afternoon and wanted to play $1 VP at the bar. There was one seat open at the middle of the bar and as I sat down I noticed the person on my right was waiting for a royal pay out.  I figured that meant I wouldn’t be hitting a royal any time soon.

After around 15 minutes of play, to my surprise I was dealt a club royal.  But that’s not the end of it.  Around 15 minutes later the player on my left was dealt the same club royal!  I have never seen or heard of any-thing like that happening before and don’t think I will again.


This was years ago at the Trop in Atlantic City, back when it was TropWorld. I was playing a three-reel slot for dollars, with kind of a low progressive, something over $1,100. I decided to play, figuring I had a better chance to hit a jackpot than on some of the games with the really big payoffs. Was I right!

I’d only been playing for about five minutes when I got the three 7sfor the progressive. I was so excited. My husband Jack was at the blackjack tables, and I couldn’t wait to show him what I’d won. I don’t remember the exact amount anymore; it was something like $1,120. Someone came over and paid me off, mostly in $100 bills, and I think I gave a $20 tip.

I wanted to leave right then and show Jack all those hundreds, but they asked me to play one more spin, so the winning combination didn’t show. So I did that, and up came 7, and another 7, and I’m thinking “Can this really happen again?” It did! The third reel stopped on the 7, and I had ANOTHER JACKPOT! It was lower this time. The meter had reset to $1,000.I guess that was the minimum. But it was good enough for me.

They had to do a little more paperwork to pay me, and by the time they did Jack was over looking for me. When he found me, they were counting out my money. He said, “Whoa! Look at you!” And I told him it was the second time! It was fantastic!


My two in a row came on Jackpot Block Party, just last year. I was at a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. The wedding was in Vegas, and we decided to put off the party until just a couple of days before, so we could all be there. We did some shopping and casino hopping and went to some nice clubs, just had a good time.

I was playing penny Jackpot Block Party, and I started with $20. I was winning nothing, and I thought I was going to lose my whole $20 without going to the bonus, and those bonuses are why I play. It was almost all gone, and I thought I’d just watch the other girls for a while. I don’t really like to lose very much money. I was down to about three spins worth of credits, when I got to go to the Block Party. I did really well. On my second pick, I got that gold party plunger that gets the second party going, and I got really lucky. I had all four parties going at once, and I was winning some nice credits. Before it was all through, I had $140 on the meter!

But listen to this. On the next spin, I got to go to the Block Party again! This time, I didn’t do as well. I only got to the one party, and never got to open the others, and only won about 200 credits—$2 this time, instead of $140. It was still a lot of fun, and playing penny slots, that $140 went a long way for me.


Do you remember the old Copper Mine area at the Gold Spike in Las Vegas? Before penny video slots became all the rage, you used to be able to play old penny three-reel slots and penny video poker there. I don’t mean penny video poker where you’re playing a hundred hands or anything; I mean a one-hand game with a five-penny maximum bet.

They had a deal where if you got a royal flush on one of the penny machines, you’d get a free dinner. It wasn’t gourmet food or anything, but the chicken dinner was pretty good. Well, I was dealt jack, 10 and king of spades, and drew the queen and the ace. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! You got the same 4,000 coins for a royal on those machines as on quarters or dollars or anything else, so on pennies that was $40 plus the dinner.

They paid me, and on the next hand I did it again! This time it was in hearts, and I got another $40 and another dinner. I called my wife and told her we were having dinner at the Gold Spike. I think she’d envisioned something a little fancier, but she agreed the price was right!


I guess they say you can’t win big on a video slot without getting the bonuses or the free spins, but listen to this. I was playing White Falls—you know, that game with six reels? It has stacked wild symbols, so you can win on a lot of pay lines at once.

I had a spin where I had the blonde lady with the flower in her hair—you know, the one who’s the symbol for the game. I had her on the first reel, then I had wilds on the second and third, then her on the fourth, another wild on the fifth and her again on the sixth. I don’t know how many pay lines I won on, but that six of a kind is a pretty big winner. I won more than 5,000 credits.

That made me feel pretty good. I can play a long time on 5,000 credits. I played three or four more spins, and then it happened again. The ladies and the wilds were in different places, but I got six of a kind again, and a whole bunch of other winners. I don’t even know how much I won on that spin exactly, but I looked at the game and I had more than 16,000 credits on the meter. To have it happen twice, so close together—it was thrilling.

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