A progressive gambling game is one in which there’s a large jackpot that grows every time someone makes a bet. A percentage of each bet goes to feed that jackpot, and so it can grow to life-changing amounts. Lotteries and keno games are progressive gambling games, and progressive slot machines have become extremely common. Poker games with bad beat jackpots are progressive games, too. But progressive blackjack games are starting to become more common, too.

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The Side Bet

All progressive blackjack games that I’m familiar with make their progressive jackpot available to bettors who are willing to place a side bet on that progressive jackpot. The side bet doesn’t affect the rest of the hand—it’s strictly tied to the possibility of winning the progressive blackjack jackpot.

The payouts for the blackjack game are standard. A player’s win is paid off at even odds unless he has a blackjack (or a natural) in which case the win is paid off at three to two odds. Insurance is another side bet that pays off at two to one odds. None of these results affect the progressive side bet.

The side bet is often just a $1 bet. It pays off based on special combinations of cards. For example, Cryptologic, a popular online casino software provider, offers payouts based on the following combinations:

  • Four red OR four black aces results in the jackpot paying off
  • Three aces of the same suit results in a $2500 payoff
  • Four aces of different suits results in a $1500 payoff
  • Three aces of different suits results in a $250 payoff
  • Two suited aces results in a $100 payoff
  • Two unsuited aces results in a $25 payoff

Astute readers might question how it would be possible to get four red or four black aces in a hand. That’s because most blackjack games are played with multiple decks of cards. In the Cryptologic progressive blackjack game, eight decks of cards are used, so it’s theoretically even possible to be deal four aces, all of the same suit, not just the same color.

If you didn’t place the side bet, and you’re dealt one of the winning combinations, you win nothing. Your hand just plays out as usual.

Another Example

Microgaming is another online casino software provider which offers a progressive blackjack jackpot, but the rules for winning that jackpot differ from the Cryptologic game. Microgaming’s game is called Triple Sevens, and the side bet is not optional in this game—if you want to play, you have to make the side bet every hand.

To win the progressive jackpot, a player has to receive three consecutive sevens, all of the same suit—diamonds. The game offers additional bonus payouts for other combinations of sevens.

Faux Blackjack Games with Progressive Jackpots

I know of at least one online casino which offers a blackjack game that isn’t really a blackjack game at all. It’s a slot machine game that looks like a blackjack game. What’s the difference? In a real blackjack game, even one that you play on a computer, the odds are based on what would happen if you were using a real deck of cards (or multiple decks of cards).

In a slot machine game, the cards look like cards, but the random number generator is programmed to pay out at whatever percentage it’s programmed to pay out at. So no matter what decision you make, your chances of winningare completely arbitrary. I’m not going to mention the casino by name here, but the blackjack game with the progressive jackpot there has a space theme. It’s a fun game, but not if you’re a blackjack player. On the other hand, if you’re a slots player who wants to take a shot at the progressive, give it a try. It’s just about as much fun as the other slots game at this casino.

Progressive Blackjack in Traditional Land-Based Casinos

You might or might not find a progressive jackpot blackjack game in a traditional land-based casino. If you do, then you should be aware that even though the jackpot is very large, the chances of winning aren’t good. In fact, they’re on a par with just about every other kind of progressive jackpot game out there—probably a little bit better than the lottery, but probably not as good as a slot machine progressive.

If you like blackjack, and the thought of having a chance to win a life-changing win happen while you’re playing turns you on, then progressive blackjack is probably a great idea. On the other hand, if you want to maximize your return or minimize your losses, stick with traditional blackjack games and leave the jackpot games alone.