Progressive Video Poker
Progressive video poker jackpots don't get the same attention which progressive slot jackpots get, but they should. Progressive jacks or better video poker offers a potentially huge jackpot, but the machines odds are likely to be better than the odds on your typical progressive slot machine. The exciting part of video poker is you can maintain a higher probability of succeeding with proper strategy. The casino knows most players can't gamble flawlessly on video poker, so though the theoretical advantage is less, the real advantage is usually more in line with other casino games. That applies unless you're an expert video poker player, or the progressive jackpot is so high that the odds shift in your favor.
Video Poker Progressive Strategy
John Grochowski wrote that an expert video poker player who adjusts their strategy to seek more royal flushes are likely to see them once every 34,880 hands, while someone playing basic video poker strategy on a non-progressive machine is likely to see a royal flush every 40,066 hands. When you're trying to increase your odds of winning a progressive jackpot (by hitting the royal), that's a stark difference. It pays to learn optimum strategy when playing video poker. Understand that the odds are still stacked against you--that you'd have to play over 34 thousand hands to have break-even odds of hitting the progressive. Playing for a royal flush also means a great deal more hands are going to go bust, since you'll pass up better hands (lots of winning pairs) in pursuit of the royal flush. Like in any game with a huge jackpot, it can be a frustrating experience when you don't win (which is to be expected).
Positive Expectation and Progressive Jackpots
No matter what the pay tables are on a progressive jackpot game, that game can have a positive expectation when the jackpot reaches a certain amount. "Positive expectation" means you would expect to win more than you lose over an infinite number of hands. Positive expectation video poker doesn't mean you are assured of winning. Your chances of hitting the progressive are the same at the beginning of any two hands. Yet when the jackpot reaches a certain point, the payouts are so great that they offset those high odds. Professional video poker players seek out these machines, though it's a tricky proposition locating positive expectation video poker jackpots.
Video Poker Example
One famous poker player in 2011 won a $670,000 progressive jackpot at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas. Huck Seed, a notable professional poker player who's shown up on World Series of Poker broadcasts on ESPN, won the jackpot after noticing the big progressive at the Aria Casino. Huck Seed read books on the subject, learned the strategies, and calculated he had a positive expectation on the game. He calculated he was making $3 per hand, so he intended to feed the machine until he won. Sure enough, it took six hours playing at $500 per hand, but Huck Seed eventually hit the jackpot. Claiming he had placed about $50,000 in the machine by the time he hit, he still turned that investment into twelve times the money spent. Seed took a picture of the screen and posted it for his 17,000 Twitter followers.
Video Poker Books
The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives by Frank Kneeland has been given good reviews by Dan Paymar and Jean Scott, the "Queen of Comps". Frank Kneeland's book has funny stories and anecdotes which should entertain players of all skill levels, though the math given is probably only for the experts. If you want a good video poker analyzer for either Windows or Mac, give a look at Dan Paymar's Optimum Video Poker analyzer. He also wrote an important book for video poker players, which is called Video Poker: Optimum Play. Jean Scott is well-known for her Frugal Gambler series, which explains where to get the best deals in Las Vegas and how to use comps, cashback, and other incentives to decrease the house edge and/or increase your expected return. I mention "The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives" because so few authors touch the subject of the progressive jackpots itself, instead preferring to discuss the video poker machines in general.
The book offers chapters about knowing when to play a progressive machine, how to find the best machines, avoiding common gambling misconceptions about randomness, a discussion of basic probability math, determining the true return on a machine, and forming your own progressive strategies. The strategy section is good, though the "slot teams" approach advocated is a little too involved for your average video poker player. I'd suggest reading through Frank Kneeland's book if you want tips for playing the video poker progressives and knowing how to find good machines in any casino setting.
Best Video Poker in Las Vegas
If you plan on playing the video poker progressives in Las Vegas in the near future, use the following information, though understand each casino changes its machine setup periodically. Aliante Station Casino has a double double bonus video poker progressive machine at 25 cents and $1 which has a 100.07% expected right now. Aria Resort & Casino offers a bonus poker progressive video poker game for greater than $1 per hand which has a 99.17% expectation, while a double bonus progressive machine has a 99.11% expected return. Bally's has a double double bonus progressive machine with a 97.87% expectation.
Bellagio Las Vegas has a progressive bonus poker and progressive double bonus video poker with 99.17% and 99.11% expectation, respectively. Boulder Station Casino has a similar bonus poker progressive vp machine with the familiar 99.17% return expected. Caesars Palace has a 98.01% BP progressive video poker machine. Go to Decatur, Nevada and you'll find a 100.17% expected return on a double bonus video poker machine with a progressive jackpot at the Arizona Charlies Decatur Casino. Once again, these are prone to change at any time, but progressive video poker is available throughout the year at Las Vegas casinos on the Vegas Strip, off the Strip, and downtown.