hit the jackpot


the chief prize or the cumulative stakes in a game or contest, as in bingo, a quiz contest, or a slot machine.
Poker. a pot that accumulates until a player opens the betting with a pair of predetermined denomination, usually jacks or better.
an outstanding reward or success.
hit the jackpot, Informal.
to achieve a sensational success; have sudden luck: The firm has hit the jackpot with its new line of computers.
to win a jackpot.

1880–85, Americanism; of uncertain origin

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
jackpot (ˈdʒækˌpɒt)
1.  any large prize, kitty, or accumulated stake that may be won in gambling, such as a pool in poker that accumulates until the betting is opened with a pair of jacks or higher
2.  hit the jackpot
 a.  to win a jackpot
 b.  informal to achieve great success, esp through luck
[C20: probably from jack1 (playing card) + pot1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"big prize," 1944, from obsolete poker sense (1881) of progressive antes that begin when no player has a pair of jacks or better. Earlier, in criminal slang, it meant "trouble," especially "an arrest" (1902).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

hit the jackpot

Be highly successful, especially unexpectedly; win, especially a lot of money. For example, She hit the jackpot at the auction; that platter turned out to be genuine Meissen. This term comes from a form of poker in which a hand can be opened only if one holds at least a pair of jacks (or higher). Often a number of hands must be dealt before anyone can open, and since players must put in money for each round, the jackpot, or total amount held, is apt to be quite large. [Early 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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