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Jackpot Joe: “You Don’t Have to Be a Higher Roller to Hit a Jackpot”

Jackpot Joe is one of the many slots streamers that popped up during the pandemic and quickly developed a fervent fan base. He’s one of the more relatable slots influencers with easy-to-watch videos and livestreams.

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Jackpot Joe is one of the most likable slots influencers around with a down-to-earth demeanor that brings a ton of good vibes to the space.

Hailing from the Chicago area, Joe runs a car dealership by day but records legendary slots adventures in Vegas in his downtime. He’s known for his collaborations with Mr. Handpay and some massive hits on Mystery of the Lamp.

We caught up with Joe and learned just how his slots journey began and where he hopes to go with his burgeoning channel.

Matthew Showell: Okay, so I was hoping you’d tell us your name and where you’re from if you’re comfortable with that.

Jackpot Joe: My name is Joe and I am from the Chicago land area.

How did you get into slots content creation?

JJ: So I’m relatively new to the slot streaming and YouTube scene. I really didn’t know very much about it up until probably about four years ago.

Just like most people I was sitting at home during Covid. My son was watching Mr. Beast online on YouTube on the TV and I was watching along with him.

I’ll never forget it one night, everybody went to bed. And I’m playing with the TV and I just typed in slot machines. And it was like an epiphany. It was like a bright light popped on. There was this person with all these slot machines and I go “are you kidding me?”

So I’ve always said in the past that I wish I knew about YouTube earlier because I’ve been gambling for a while and traveling to casinos long before I knew anything about slots streaming. I was always wondering if there was a way to document my experiences and showcase them. I discovered some of the bigger slot channels. And I got really roped into watching them. And those slots, then it was like an onion. It kept peeling away and there was more and more content and I thought to myself, I can definitely do this. So I learned how to start a YouTube channel.

That’s amazing, it seems like it was meant to be.

JJ: I have a very fortunate life. So I’m not complaining at all. But it definitely seems like it filled a void that I was missing in my life.

You’re passionate about it.

JJ: Yeah and the thing about it, it’s not just the gambling. The slot machines are fun. It’s great. But I’m a people person, I own a car dealership in Chicago. I love working with people. I love talking with people and the doors that this opened for me has been incredible. Just meeting up with different people from different parts of the country having relationships with different people.

I wish people knew how much fun we have. And how much fun they’re missing out on. You don’t have to just gamble. It’s the laughter. It’s the camaraderie. It’s the food. It’s the drinking. I don’t drink but it’s the get-togethers.

The whole social experience is wonderful. It’s like, what else is life all about? You know what? I mean, it’s great.

It’s interesting. We’re all familiar with that vibe at the casino with friends or new friends or whatever and I’m curious is that kind of something you feel or see that exists with your YouTube audience?

JJ: Yeah, And here’s the other thing when we’re streaming. Okay, obviously at first it was very weird because you’re talking to a phone or a camera and you don’t see what’s going on the other side. You don’t know if it’s entertaining to the other person.

One of the things that I’ve discovered is in this world: there are people who have social anxiety. There are people who are socially awkward. And there are people who have other social disorders. That our streams may comfort them if that makes any sense. To some people the slot community may be all the friends or family

I have this conversation with other slot channels. There are people who had troubles in their life. There’s people who’ve lost loved ones in their life.  We’re providing them comfort and we’ve had people admit to us in a live stream saying “you’ve gotten me through this”, and it’s not so much the gambling. It’s the connection that you have with your audience. And I like that a lot more than just the slot machines. You know what I mean?

Jackpot Joe with a new friend at the casino.

It feels like it took Covid to realize that we are actually already very isolated and that we can find community online as well as in real life.

JJ: This is no different than AOL. If you remember that. 

You had these things called chat rooms and then some messaging and ways to connect with other people in the world without getting on an airplane and physically meeting someone at a bar or whatever the case is. This is a great tool to bring people together

And what I love about it is at any given time in the chat, you have different races, different opinions on politics, sexual preferences and just different beliefs really. But the community gets along for the most part. I mean there are some people that are assholes but you get what I’m saying.

There’s two or three hundred people,  everybody getting along and laughing together. Nobody cares what gender you like. Nobody cares about politics – whether you like, Trump, Biden whatever the case. Everybody gets along.

What is it that’s special about slots? Why do you think people key in so much on watching people play slots?

JJ: Slots have evolved quite a bit from just the three-reel machines, to now where they’re almost like arcade games. People love the games, and they want to see people win. They like those outcomes. 

As the game manufacturers get more and more creative, the more interesting it becomes. It’s human nature to want to be entertained. So even though the viewer doesn’t win $10,000 if I win $10,000 on stream, they get that entertainment and they feel like they won with you.

Yeah. For free.

JJ: Yeah exactly. So that’s one aspect but it’s also about jumping into the chat and chatting to everyone that I talk to on a daily basis.

Yeah, right. It’s like everyone getting together.

JJ: My wife is the complete opposite of me. When we go to Las Vegas – and I have a group of people we’re getting together with – she’s overwhelmed. When I go to Potawatomi and I’m playing slots, people come up to me and say, “Hey, it’s Jackpot Joe. I watch you on TikTok!” She’s overwhelmed. She doesn’t understand it.

So there’s those type which is my wife, but then there’s people like me who just want to be in touch with people daily. This is my relaxation from the stresses of everyday life. This is how I choose to chill out, you could say.

It sounds like you’ve been playing slots for a long time. Could you give me a quick snapshot of your favorite memories of slots before making content?

JJ: Okay, so here’s a funny story. My dad has always been a fan of Vegas—not a huge gambler, but he enjoys it. My mom and dad both like Vegas. As an only child, I have fond memories of them taking me to Las Vegas when I was a kid. I was there when Excalibur opened, and I also witnessed the grand opening of The Mirage. Back in those days—before cell phones and pagers—casinos had really cool arcades. My parents would give me a roll of quarters and tell me to stay in the arcade.”

All I would do was play the games. My parents would check up on me every half hour, handing me another roll of quarters. Then they’d return, saying, ‘All right, we’re ready for dinner.’ It was a time when you could safely leave your kid in an arcade.

That’s where I developed my love for gaming. When I turned 18, there was one casino in the area that allowed gambling at that age: Wisconsin Dells. I’ll never forget the moment I hit 18. A friend and I would meet up—around seven or eight o’clock at night—and stop at 7-Eleven for cappuccinos. Then we’d embark on a two-hour drive north from Chicago to Wisconsin Dells.

We’d head there with just a hundred dollars—no ATMs available back then. We played five-dollar blackjack or perhaps dollar blackjack, and occasionally penny slots. Wheel of Fortune was all the rage at the time — those quarter machines.

We’d arrive around 9 p.m. and play until 2 a.m., then make the drive back, arriving home by 4:30 a.m. and somehow managing to be at work by 8 a.m.”

Things that are only possible when you’re at that age.

JJ: You’re right, but what’s amazing is a hundred bucks would last us the whole night. And if we lost the hundred dollars, we felt like it was the end of the world. I mean I do 100 dollar spins but back then a hundred bucks would get us forever, and that was exciting. Once I turned 21 I started going to riverboats, which don’t really exist here in Chicago area anymore.

Obviously went to Vegas and I didn’t really turn into a freak about it until probably the past five or six years when I discovered what comps are when I discovered what just all the things that Vegas has to offer to something to a player. So, I got to know the game out there and then it just became a lot more enjoyable.

More sustainable? With all the comps and other stuff?

JJ: I’ve been playing for about five or six years now, and I’ve finally become profitable in Vegas. When it comes to choosing which machines to play, I avoid penny slots.

The chances of winning on those are very limited. Could you really win a hundred thousand dollars playing any slot? Not very likely. Certain slot machine games have better odds, and I tend to stick to the ones I’ve had success with. I prefer more volatile games with higher denominations for a better rate of return, rather than lower volatility and more frequent bonuses at a lower denomination.

Get a big result in a short amount of time?

JJ: Right. You don’t have to be a high roller to hit a jackpot. In fact, our friend recently won $13,000 by betting just a dollar fifty on the Piggy Bankin slot machine. While it’s possible, hitting the jackpot doesn’t happen very often.

My Vegas trips are generally three days. As a max I’ll go for four days. And so for those days I’ve got some damage to do.

That’s exciting. Do you have any other tips or criteria for how to choose games?

JJ: Let’s delve into machine specifics. Personally, I avoid playing Ainsworth machines because I don’t find them to have a good return. I know there are some slot channels out there that feel the complete opposite of what I say.

When I visit Vegas, I typically bring four to five thousand dollars in cash. There’s a reason why I can go two or three days and do $70,000 to $80,000 of coin-in, just starting with $4,000.

Of course, my success depends on the games I choose. While I don’t always come back a winner, the goal is to maximize my comps, enjoy perks like luxurious suites, limos, and fine dining. Recently, I was there during Super Bowl weekend.

Everybody said that you couldn’t get a room. I made a call on Monday Tuesday. I had a penthouse at the Bellagio. I had dinners out there. We had a Super Bowl party in the room with all kinds of food. I think it cost me like $350. That’s just the taxes basically.

Jackpot Joe with a nice hit on Bao Zhu Zhao Fu.

You’re not only doing all that but you’re building a YouTube channel and a brand.

JJ: Yeah. I mean, I was out there, and I had a great experience, so if I was not a gambler, what would it have cost me? My host told me that the room that I was in was classified as $8,300 a night.

Would you be able to call out your top three favorite games?

Absolutely. There’s ‘Mystery of the Lamp, ‘Mo Mummy,’ and the one I affectionately call the ‘Firecrackers’ game (Bao Zhu Zhao Fu). Everyone refers to it as the ‘Firecrackers’ game.

Those are all great. I enjoy Mystery Lamp a lot.

What makes a good game for you?

JJ: To me a great game has different types of bonuses with longevity. I think long bonuses are wonderful.

I was wondering if you have three favorite land-based casino properties that you love playing at?

Jackpot Joe: Yeah, so Aria is one of my favorites in Las Vegas. But my top property is Choctaw Durant. My second would have to be Windstar. My third would have to be Aria. Circa downtown does a wonderful job as well.

Do you think casinos should ban smoking?

JJ: This is funny, but I’m happy you brought that up. I am a smoker but I prefer playing in a non-smoking environment.

I don’t think they’ll get rid of it. But what I would like to see is more definitive smoking and non-smoking areas. And I would like to see the same amount of games in the non-smoking areas.

What tips can you share with readers about gambling safely and responsibly?

JJ: Definitely know what your budget is and definitely know when the wrap it up. I’ve definitely been on some really bad streaks.

It was important to me back in the day to be top player at 50 different casinos. I wanted to be black card. I want to be Platinum all over the place but this year I’ve come to realization that I’m only gonna play at the places that I have the best chances of winning.

So, my status is going to fall off at some other properties, but I don’t really care because what do I get for it? I get nothing, for example, the casinos here in Illinois.

I’ve been a Black Card Player for Rivers Casino for many, many years. And I started getting offers in the mail for $40-50 dollar a week free play. What kind of crap is that? So if I’d rather save that budget that I had go to Las Vegas. Where I’m treated with a penthouse, I’m treated with a limo and treated with dinners. And $1500 dollars a free play.

How important is it for casual and recreational slots to take advantage of whatever loyalty programs there? Do you have any basic kind of tips for people that don’t understand that stuff?

JJ: One thing a lot of people don’t do is read the player card stuff to understand if they can find out what the casino’s payback percentage is.

I mean, if you don’t figure that stuff out, you’re just going there and donating, throwing your money away. Always use your player card.

Are there any kind of benchmark numbers that people should sort of think of when they’re looking at that kind of that payback number?

JJ: Yeah, I would think anything 90% RTP above should be what you’re looking for anything under 90% I’d probably be cautious about. Most of the casinos have that plaque or that sign somewhere by the cashier cage.

Can I ask you what’s your biggest slot win?

JJ: My biggest slot win, and I have to go back, but it’s about $25,000 or $26,000.

That must have been exciting. Was it on-camera or off-camera?

JJ: It was off camera at three in the morning at Potawatomi. And I was completely exhausted but I was on a killer streak and I had no battery left. And I was conserving as much as I could and I hit the grand on a Lock It Link game and there was no one there and I can’t remember where I think it was at Rivers one time where I hit a really good bonus and I had no battery.

I mean, my phone was dead and I gave the lady 20 bucks. I’m like, “ listen, will you video this and then send it to me? Here’s my phone number. And she did it. It was pretty funny.

That’s awesome.

JJ: I haven’t really gotten above that 25k. I’ve gotten close, but I’ve had several around that range.

I’m curious about your lifestyle now as a content creator and how that relates to your business. I know you said you have a car dealership.

JJ: I live a pretty modest lifestyle. I guess you could we don’t live in the biggest house in the neighborhood. We have the biggest Garage in the neighborhood, but I don’t have the biggest house. we have an older home.

What’s in your garage?

JJ: I have a 72 Corvette. But other than that, I drive a pickup truck. and my wife drives a Yukon so I mean, it’s not like we’re screaming around and Rolls Royces.

How much work do you have to put into the whole slots channel thing? I mean, it seems like you’re really passionate about it. You’re really committed to it.

JJ: Yeah, so I do more with TikTok than I do with YouTube and I do more with shorts, for the simple fact that I don’t have the time to edit really long videos.

In terms of monetizing your channel and your goals as a content creator, I mean, what do you want to accomplish? And where do you see this endeavor going for you?

JJ: Yeah, it’s funny you say that. I’ve always maintained that I won’t be the biggest and best because I simply don’t have the time to invest in that pursuit. My goal is to be a well-known channel, and I believe I’ve achieved that.

While I don’t get as many views as some of my other friends, I’m closely connected with Mr. Handpay. You’ll often find me in his videos. However, I lack the drive to compete with him or the big jackpot channels like Vegas Matt. It would require a significant financial commitment and strain on my family, which I’m not willing to undertake.

Fair enough. What are your goals in the next while with your channel?

JJ: The next step here is probably to see if we can break through and get up to 10,000 subscribers. I think I’m at around 7,600 subscribers right now. I know we’re gonna hit a total million view, this is YouTube.

(Editor’s note: Since this interview was recorded, Jackpot Joe’s sub count has blown past the 10k mark and is now over 11,500. He’s also garnered over two million views. Check our Streamer Rankings to see the most up to date numbers.)

On TikTok, we’re at 18,900 or will probably hit 19,000 shortly. Where do I want to go with it? I don’t know. I can’t answer that. You never want to be top dog because then you’re the most scrutinized person in the room. But I’d like to be that everyday kind of person.

To learn more about Jackpot Joe and where he stands in our Streamer Rankings be sure to check out our Jackpot Joe profile.

Author: Matt
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