Times are getting tough all over and that includes for video poker (VP) players. Some of the best remaining plays are for progressive jackpots once they get high. Keep in mind, however, that your expectations have to be reasonable and anytime your expected return (ER) relies on rare hands like the royal flush (RF) or four-of-a-kind (4OAKS), the volatility increases as well.
Base Game: Before even considering a VP game, even a progressive, you should make sure that you have a decent base game – If, for example, the best Double Double Bonus (DDB) game available is 8/5 DDB and it’s not even in a progressive format, I would play something else. Even if your game is progressive you should look at the amounts before taking a seat. Sometimes, however, the progressive jackpots are high enough to make it a positive play, even over 100%, giving the player an advantage over the house.
Table1.1: Double Double Bonus (DDB)
|Winning Hand||9/6 DDB||8/5 DDB||8/5 Prog DDB*|
|4 Aces with 2, 3 or 4||2000||2000||2500|
|Four 2’s, 3’s or 4’s w/A-4||800||800||900|
|Four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s||400||400||480|
|3 of a Kind||15||15||15|
|Jacks or Better||5||5||5|
I had to use estimates because the meter is constantly changing, but these figures give you an estimate of both the ER and volatility for this game.
Volatility: Referring to Table 1.1 you can see that the variance, a measure of the games volatility or risk to running out of bankroll, is sky high in the progressive example. Be aware that all versions of DDB are risky business considering that 9/6Jacks or Better (9/6JOB) has a variance of 19.51468 by comparison. If you’ve selected a risky game you could quickly run out of money when you fail to get the statistically expected number of rare hands, like a RF or 4OAKS. Even if you’re playing a non-progressive version it’s a dangerous choice.
Adjusting Play: Although progressives will be played much like the base game you will have to change your play for infrequent hands, like a RF. Normally, for example, dealt a high pair or three to the royal you would hold the paying pair; however, with a progressive royal you would hold three to the royal instead when the progressive gets to a certain point. You should practice on tutorial software (I recommend WinPoker), before going to the casino since the exact amount varies with each VP game. (My book, “The Video Poker Edge” lists the exact amount for the most popular games.)
Quitting Time: One of the most important things to keep in mind on progressives is the impact that long shot plays can have on your bankroll. Even if the royal is huge, so is the variance and you should avoid going above your budget with frequent trips to the ATM. Over time you will get your odds by only playing progressives when the amounts are high; however, short term results, like a single session, can be frustrating and devastating to your bankroll. Self-control is an absolute must, especially with long-shot games like Progressive DDB. Once the progressive jackpot is hit, it could be the royal or certain 4OAKS, it’s time to move on.
Final Thoughts: Spend some time walking around a casino before deciding what you’re going to play. This is not only true for VP progressive jackpots but also for traditional progressive slot games. You can still find positive plays in your favorite Arizona casino if you’re patient and take your time before inserting those twenties.
Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, also writes for “Southern & Midwest Gaming” and the latest edition of “American Casino Guide”. Her videos are on YouTube and on American Casino Guide’s web site, her radio interviews are on iTunes. Boyd’s book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and strategy cards for the most popular games. The latest edition including Kindle is available from amazon.com, www.squareonepublishers.com book stores or Toll Free: 877-900-BOOK