How to Win a Progressive Video Poker Jackpot
Is progressive video poker the best and quickest way to a life-changing jackpot? If you believe many locals who spend a lot of time optimizing their play and seeking out the best progressive video poker machines in Las Vegas, it just might be.
Why Progressive Video Poker?
If you’ve read our main page on Video Poker you’ll know it comes in a few different varieties and combines the excitement of slot machines with the hands and basic strategies of poker.
Like slots and poker, video poker can be played live or online. In fact video poker is probably the game that translates best from live to online since in live video poker all the action takes place on a video screen as it is.
There are many different types of video poker machines (Jacks or Better, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus etc) and one particular type you may encounter both at a live casino and while playing online Video Poker is the progressive video poker machine.
Besides choosing a machine with a good payout table, the most important part of video poker strategy is to aim for the progressive jackpot. This increases your odds of making video poker a more profitable game.
How Big Can Progressive Video Poker Jackpots Be?
A progressive video poker jackpot is a special jackpot offered for hitting a Royal Flush when betting maximum credits. As the rarest hand to hit in video poker royal flushes normally pay quite a bit, usually around 800-to-1, on a standard video poker machine.
A royal flush on a progressive jackpot machine, though, will likely pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars. The reason they can offer so much is that every progressive video poker machine that is linked to the progressive jackpot pays into the same pool.
So a percentage of every dollar put into any machine on that network is combined to create an enormous pool of money. Especially in online video poker, when there can be many more machines tied into the progressive jackpot, these jackpot pools can rise to incredible heights.
How Can You Win the Progressive Jackpot?
A traditional video poker machine works by offering escalating payouts for making stronger hands. A pair of jacks, for example, may pay even money while four-of-a-kind may offer a 25-to-1 payout.
Progressive machines operate in the same way, except that for an extremely rare, extremely strong hand such as a royal flush you will win the progressive jackpot.
The only way to win a progressive jackpot is to play a progressive video poker machine and to go for – and hit - the royal flush. if you need a refresher on what exactly a royal flush is, it’s the top five cards in poker – 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace – all of the same suit.
It doesn’t matter which suit it is – diamonds, clubs, spades or hearts – but it must be those five high cards all in one of the suits. Five lower cards of the same suit in consecutive order – eg 5-6-7-8-9 – are a Straight Flush – not a Royal Flush.
What are the Odds of Hitting a Progressive Video Poker Jackpot?
As you might guess, hitting a royal flush is astronomically difficult and it may never happen. In fact the odds of getting a Royal Flush on the first five cards dealt on any video poker game using 52 cards are 1 in 649,740.
Those aren’t very good odds. However, if you deviate slightly from optimal video poker strategy (where you maximizing you chances of hitting any payout) you cam maximize your odds of hitting that Royal Flush.
Important Note: In order to win the maximum progressive jackpot you MUST play the maximum amount of betting credits on each turn. If you play less than the max you'll only win the regular payout for your royal flush – not the progressive jackpot.
We don’t have to tell you how painful it would be to hit a Royal Flush on a progressive video poker machine only to be denied the top payout – and maybe even close to half a million dollars.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Hitting the Jackpot?
We're not telling you you have to go out and become a professional progressive video poker strategist. But you do need to specifically aim for a Royal Flush if you want to hit it.
Here you can see how your odds change with each card you might hold after the first deal:
1 in 178,365
1 in 16,215
1 in 1081
1 in 47
With each card of a Royal Flush you hold, your chances obviously improve. Not very much if it's just one card, but still.
If you look at your overall chances of hitting a Royal Flush, on a non-progressive Jacks or Better video poker machine, for example, a Royal Flush will once in every 40,066 hands (if you play according to perfect video poker strategy).
If you decide to chase the Royal Flush specifically, you can bring those odds down to once in every 34,880 hands dealt. The trade off with the more aggressive strategy is you get rid of cards that would be (or already are) winning hands.
So your overall payout rate will go down for no guarantee you'll ever hit that jackpot. But if you do hit it ...
A quick note about progressive video poker online vs. live:
If you live in (or visit) Las Vegas and frequent the video poker machines you know there are times when certain video poker progressive jackpots "go positive." That means they've reached the point where, since the jackpot hasn't been hit in a certain number of hands, they're due for a payout.
While that obviously improves your chances, there are professional video poker teams who will know that too - and they will descend on that machine like buzzards. You'll likely never get a seat at that machine and be able to go for the jackpot.
Playing video poker progressives online, however, the odds of both finding a positive EV machine and getting a chance to play it are much, much higher.
Basic Video Poker Terminology
If you hope to become a serious progressive video poker jackpot chaser there are a few important terms you should be familiar with. Understanding them and how they change your odds of hitting the jackpot are key to giving yourself the best chance possible.
Meter Rise: This is how much the progressive jackpot increases with every dollar added to the machine or network. Meter rise varies from casino to casino and machine to machine so it's a good idea to check which ones offer the quickest meter rise.
Breakeven Point: If a progressive video poker machine hasn't paid out the jackpot in a certain number of hands the machine will then reach a level where it will payout exactly 100% of the money that's put into it, factoring how much the jackpot hit would be.
Reset: Once the progressive jackpot is hit the meter starts over at a base jackpot level set by the casino. It's likely to start about the same level as a standard jackpot.