In our previous section, we talked about the difference between progressive and non-progressive jackpots. Simply put, a progressive jackpot grows in size as players put money into a machine or more often a bank of machines (a group of machines with one networked jackpot). The more money bet, the higher the jackpot. Once someone hits the progressive jackpot everything starts over. The progressive jackpot will usually begin right around the amount of a jackpot on a non-progressive machine. This starting amount is called the ‘reset’.

In this section, we’ll talk about some more strategy consideration for progressive jackpot video poker machines. Progressive machines can be very lucrative but success requires learning ‘the ropes’ and doing more work than you will with fixed jackpot (non-progressive) machines.


There are a few other considerations for players that enjoy video poker regularly. While most of the time when we talk about a ‘breakeven’ percentage and profit/loss we’re talking about money won in the form of payout and jackpots there are other incentives for the player that can also qualify. This is especially true for Las Vegas ‘locals‘–casinos compete fiercely for ‘locals‘ business and a clever player can use this to their advantage. The primary inducements for ‘locals‘ players include such things as slot club points, casino mailers, and other casino promotions.

These are not ‘one size fits all’ benefits and a skilled video poker player can tailor them to fit his personal tastes. For example, when I was living in Las Vegas full time I always took advantage of the Station Casinos bonus slot point promotions. The primary benefit of these points was to increase my ‘ranking status’ within the slot club to the point where I didn’t have to wait in line for the breakfast buffet. I also made sure to give some play to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino even though their video poker offerings weren’t always great. The reason for this was twofold: they offered great casino mailers with free meals and also offered free concert tickets to get gamblers onto their property. There’s no ‘formula‘ for figuring out how this type of benefit should be included in your ‘breakeven’ but clearly, it’s worth something.

Of course, these benefits are available to expert level video poker players regardless of whether they play progressive or non-progressive machines but the larger progressive jackpots can make that form of video poker all the more lucrative when combined with other forms of ‘profit‘ as listed above.

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As we noted in the previous section, some video poker experts advocate adopting a different strategy for higher level jackpots. Some players go so far as to modify their strategy for each 1% increase in the ‘positive EV’ of a progressive jackpot with each successive level shooting more aggressively for the royal flush.

This can be very effective but has a downside. For example, on a non-progressive Jacks or Better video poker machine a player will hit a royal flush once per 40,066 hands played with perfect strategy. If a player modifies his strategy to aggressively ‘chase’ the royal flush he can bring that down to 34,880 hands. That sounds great but don’t forget that there is a trade-off—with the more aggressive strategy you’re required to throw away quite a few winning hands (eg: two pairs) to go after the royal flush and the big jackpot. It’s great if you eventually do hit the jackpot but that won’t always happen meaning you’ve spent more money in a losing cause.

Another thing that you’ll have to deal with if you’re playing at a live casino—and particularly in Las Vegas or other major gaming destination. Think you’ll be the only person aware that a video poker progressive jackpot has ‘gone positive’? Think again—it won’t be long before it seems that everyone in town knows about it. This includes professional video poker teams—they’ll be camping out at a ‘positive‘ bank and once they get a seat they’re not likely to give them up. Once you include ‘independent’ advantage gamblers and ‘wanna-bes’ you’ll quickly learn that once a video poker jackpot ‘goes positive‘ that the first issue is just getting a seat to play. This is a big advantage of playing online—once you find a positive EV machine you won’t have to worry about ‘losing your seat’.


RESET: The starting point for the progressive jackpot meter. Once a progressive payout is hit the process starts over, usually at a jackpot amount similar to what a non-progressive machine would pay.

BREAK EVEN POINT: The point above which playing a machine has a positive expected value. At the ‘break even’ point a machine’s return is exactly 100%. If you’re serious about playing progressive video poker machines you shouldn’t play any machine with a jackpot below the break-even point.

METER RISE: The amount that a jackpot payout increases with each bet. For example, a 1% meter rise means that for every 1.00 wagered the jackpot increases by one cent. This isn’t a standard figure and meter rise will vary from one machine to another.