Knowing when to shoot for the progressive jackpots

Jan 23, 2001 10:16 AM

Some of the most popular games in video poker are progressive royals. They’re fun to play — not only because they give you that extra little (and sometimes big) bonus to shoot for, but you watch the jackpot grow with every hand. And the inevitable questions are always raised about whether we should play for the jackpot at whatever levels they’ve reached, or wait until they go sky high. Well, today you’re going to learn something about all this — in simple language everyone can understand.

Think about what you’re doing when you choose to play a progressive. You’re gambling. Although some of the machines’ pay tables have reduced their full house and/or flush 5 credits while others haven’t, in either case you sat down because of the royal. Whether it was $4,300, $7,900, or $13,050, it’s higher than $4,000, so you feel like taking a crack at it.

And guess what? Players hit them all the time, so you have nothing to feel guilty about. But what about all those statistics you’ve read saying nearly all progres-sives (unless they’re at least double or triple the standard 4,000-coin payout) aren’t worth playing because you’re giving up X amount per hour since the machine’s not a 100% game?

First of all, who in their right mind would care if their machine has a return over infinity of 94%, 98.7%, or 103% — if the royal they sat down to try and hit is $7,900? Did you sit down to see how many full houses and flushes you could get? Of course not! Are you playing to improve your per hour earnings? Sort of, because if you’re lucky enough to hit the royal, you’ve just made thousands per hour! When you hit $7,900, do you cry because it’s not $13,050?

Sure, bigger jackpots are more fun, but you won’t lose any sleep. There’s really no need to cloud such an event with confusing probability theories, meaningless expected value calculations, or to go on record saying people who do such things, by and large, are losing players. I think it has something to do with that dreaded long-term strategy.

Anyone who tells us such things should have their credentials thoroughly checked. But the fact remains; you can’t win if you don’t play. So the next time you come across a progressive royal that seems "a bit low" think again…. and don’t start crying if you see someone else being issued the W-2G!