What Is A Progressive Video Poker Machine?

Don’t get me wrong, standard video poker machines can be a lot of fun, but the chances of landing any big wins are relatively small.

In fact, most non-progressive video poker players consider anything as little as a 1% edge (including club points) as a success, which is a little disheartening.

Furthermore, as the pots are fixed, the play strategies needn’t ever change, meaning what started as an exciting betting opportunity quickly loses its appeal, but the same can’t be said for progressive video poker machines.

What Is A Progressive Video Poker Machine?

What are they? Well, in essence, they’re the same as standard video poker machines but for the fact that the royal flush jackpot increases over time.

That’s the basic definition, but if you want a little more information to decide whether you should make the transition from standard to progressive video poker player, stick with me!

What’s The Difference Between A Standard And Progressive Video Poker Machine?

When you play a standard video poker machine (see also “How Do You Play A Video Poker Game?“), all the jackpots are pre-determined and attached to corresponding hands and bets, so essentially, there’s a limit to how much you can win and how dynamic your play can be — A real buzzkill for someone used to playing poker at a table.

That’s not to say that you should give all non-progressive video poker machines a miss though.

Non-progressives with a high expectancy offer the player more of an edge over the house, which is an enticing prospect for those with low-risk tolerance.

Progressive video poker machines, on the other hand, are dynamic whereas non-progressives are static, meaning one of the jackpots changes with each bet, but to which hand does this evolving jackpot belong?

Why, it’s the royal flush of course… the rarest hand in the game.

Much like a non-progressive video poker machine, jackpots associated with all the other hands remain fixed. It’s only the royal flush that increases over time, so that’s what you’re gunning for when you hit a progressive machine.

What’s A Royal Flush In Poker?

A royal flush is an incredibly unlikely hand. It involves laying down a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace all in the same suit.

To give you an understanding of just how hard it is to drum up this hand, in an actual game of poker, the probability of drawing a royal flush is exactly 0.000154%, which equates to odds of 649,739 to 1 — It’s a real long shot, but don’t let the number get you down!

Are Progressive Poker Machines Better Than Non-Progressives?

Generally speaking, progressives offer much bigger ROIs than non-progressives, and they pay them quicker as well, but there’s the matter of frequency to consider.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a progressive machine’s promise, whereas non-progressives are always the same, meaning you can play them whenever and garner the same results.

How To Pick A Progressive Video Poker Machine

Progressive video poker machines are absolutely worth playing, but the important thing to understand before you place your bet and draw your first cards is that progressive status does not a good poker machine make.

Although all progressive video poker machines follow the same principles, they’re not all made equal (see also “What Is A Multihand Video Poker Machine?“). Much like non-progressives, they can differ dramatically from machine to machine.

The key to picking out a good one is considering all possible variables, so let’s take a look at them now.

Jackpot Caps

Some progressive video poker machines will place a low cap on the royal flush jackpot, keeping it from going up too high, while others will allow the jackpot to rise to much greater figures.

Obviously, if you’re looking to win big, you’ll need to scope out the machines that offer higher potential royal flush jackpots, but bear in mind that these may offer unfavorable odds or offset the high jackpot with low fixed hand wins (more on that in a moment).

Meter Rate

What Is A Progressive Video Poker Machine? (1)

The meter rate of a progressive video poker machine is the percentage of each bet taken to increase the royal flush jackpot. 1% is a fairly standard rate, meaning for every dollar bet, the royal flush jackpot increases by one penny.

However, this rate isn’t a given. It’s essential that you find out the meter rate of a progressive video poker machine before you play (see also “Can You Win On Video Poker Machines?“), but just how the heck are you meant to do that?

Well, a foolproof way of checking meter rates is by placing a $10 bet and observing how much the royal jackpot flush increases.

Simply divide how much the jackpot shot up by the amount you bet and voilà; that’s your meter rate.

Self-Contained VS Localized VS Pooled Jackpots

Much like progressive slots, progressive video poker machines (see also “Best Payout Video Poker Machines“) can be deployed in a few different ways…

  • Self-contained — A self-contained progressive poker machine does not interact with any others. Only bets made on that machine will increase the royal flush jackpot, meaning it’s probably going to be a very slow burner.
  • Localized — A localized progressive video poker machine is interconnected with others in the immediate environment. All bets made on any of these machines will raise the royal flush jackpot.
  • Pooled — A pooled progressive video poker machine is linked up to a number of other machines spread over a larger area; they might even be state-wide! Needless to say, the jackpots on pooled machines go up far quicker than the others.

Current Jackpot

One of the most important things to factor into your decision-making process when selecting a progressive machine to play is the current state of the jackpot. If it’s too low, you don’t want to be the one forking out to bring it up.

Fixed Jackpots

Don’t neglect the fixed pots of a progressive video poker machine. That royal flush may be some distance off, even if you find a machine with a stacked cumulative jackpot, so you need those set pots to give you a bit of staying power.

If the pots are too low, even if you do wind up winning the jackpot, the payoff might not be worth it.

Final Thoughts

If you’re getting a little tired of standard video poker machines, or perhaps you just don’t think the return is worthy of your time, then shifting to a progressive machine is certainly worth your consideration, but have your wits about you.

Finding the right kind of progressive machine is key!

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Richie Thames
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