A video poker progressive calculator is a tool you can use to find out when a progressive jackpot on a game has gotten high enough to make that payback percentage a positive expectation game.
What Is a Video Poker Progressive Calculator, and How Does It Work?
Here’s how that works:
The payback percentage on a video poker game is a function of the payoffs for the various hands and the odds of being dealt those hands.
Here’s an example:
In a normal Jacks or Better game, a pair of Jacks or higher pays off at even odds. You bet a coin, you get paid a coin if you win.
It’s simple math, actually.
The odds of being dealt a pair of Jacks or higher are roughly 25%. So the expected return for that hand is 0.25. The formula is pretty straightforward. To get the expected return, you multiply the probability by the payoff.
You add up the expected return for all the possible winning combinations. That gives you the expected return (aka the payback percentage) for the entire machine.
Here’s what a normal Jacks or Better pay table looks like:
The Size of the Royal Flush Payoff Is What Matters
The royal flush is the jackpot hand in video poker. On most games, it pays off at 800 to 1. Of course, the odds of getting this hand are about 1 in 40,000, but that still provides a significant amount of your payback percentage.
But when you’re playing a game with a progressive jackpot for that hand–one where the jackpot keeps getting higher–the overall return increases as that jackpot increases.
Past a certain point, the expectation gets large enough that the game has a 100%+ payback percentage, giving you an edge over the casino. You’ll find these games available occasionally in Las Vegas.
Progressive Jacks or Better with a Positive Expectation (+EV)
I don’t have the programming expertise to create a calculator as such, but I was able to research the break-even point for the most common progressive game–Jacks or Better:
If you’re playing a progressive 9/6 Jacks or Better game, the break-even point is when the jackpot gets to 976 coins. (The normal size of that jackpot is 800 coins). Every coin above that adds to your edge over the casino.
What usually happens when the progressive jackpot gets that high is this:
Teams of advantage gamblers swoop in on the games and occupy all the seats. They remain in those seats until someone from their team hits the jackpot. This often happens faster than you might think, too.
Suppose there are 8 games tied into this jackpot. An expert player gets in 600 hands per hour. If you have a team of 8 players playing at that rate, you’re getting in 4800 hands per hour.
Since you’ll see a royal flush every 40,000 hands or so, that’s only 8 hours.
But there’s another factor to consider. Experts change their strategy when playing a progressive jackpot like this. They’ll draw to the royal flush more often than normal strategy would indicate.
This decreases how long it takes to get to that royal flush. They’ll probably see the royal flush within 35,000 hands, which cuts the playing time down to 7 hours.
These teams are often large, too. They work in 2 hour shifts. They give each other time off. And the nature of an advantage gambling team is to split the profits even when you’re not sitting at the machine playing. (Card counting teams work in much the same way.)
A video poker progressive calculator can be an invaluable tool to help you get an edge over the casino. The obstacle you’re most likely going to encounter is an advantage gambling team occupying all the seats. I’m not sure what the best way to deal with that is.
You might try standing over them and looking intimidating. Maybe they’ll get nervous and stand up, giving you the opportunity to take their spot.
Then again, probably not.