A progressive jackpot is a large cash prize that increases over time through the accumulation of a percentage of all lost bets. Most of the time the player is required to bet a certain amount or make a special side bet before each hand in order to be eligible to win these giant prizes. Due to their snowballing nature, these jackpots can sometimes reach up to millions of dollars so they are clearly worth learning about!
As soon as a player hits a progressive jackpot they will be rewarded with a percentage of the jackpot prize. The percentage of the jackpot that a player will earn depends on the game’s specific pay tables as well as the strength of the player’s hand.
Most people think of slot games when they think of a progressive jackpot, but the fact of the matter is that table games offer a ton of progressive jackpots as well. Some examples of table games that include a progressive jackpot are Caribbean Stud Poker, Progressive Let It Ride and Blazing 7’s Blackjack.
How to Qualify
Most of the progressive jackpots in table games do not require a maximum bet in order to be eligible to participate. Instead, they require an additional bet to be made on the side of your normal bet which ensures that you will receive the jackpot if you qualify. There will normally be a special circle or slot that you must place a specific number of chips in if you want to be a part of the side bet.
As far as hand strength goes, the exact specifications for winning these jackpots will vary from game to game. However, if you fail to make the side bet it does not matter what the specifications are because you will be ineligible to win the jackpot anyway.
Most of these table games will require you to make your special progressive jackpot side bet every single hand. There is usually no option to auto-bet on this extra option so you have to be on your toes and remember to do it every time if your game plan is to play for the jackpot.
The average return on most casino games is usually going to be under 100%, which is how the casino makes their money. Even in progressive jackpot games where the jackpot amount is larger than the top payouts for other games of similar stakes, the house edge is still tough to overcome.
However, in some games, it is possible to calculate how high the progressive jackpot needs to get before the average return for each player goes above 100%. Anytime a bet gives a player an average return of over 100% then it becomes a positive expectation bet because they will make money if they repeat them millions of times.
The best way to calculate the sweet spot amount that a progressive jackpot needs to reach in order to give your bets a positive expectation is to analyze what the average payoff is with various jackpot amounts. You can calculate the average payoff for each prize on the payout table by multiplying the amount of each payoff by the frequency of each payout. As soon as these average payoffs all add up to more than 1 then you know your bets will have a positive expectation.
If you simply wait around for jackpots to reach an amount that is above this sweet spot, then technically you can be a profitable player in the long run. However, it is important to remember that the long run is extremely long and it could take decades to get anywhere near enough volume in by using a highly selective jackpot strategy.
Even if a game is profitable due to its sky-high progressive jackpot, you should always use proper bankroll management when playing these games since most of your returns will come from the top two or three hands which are extremely tough to hit. There is no reason to use your rent money just to chase a dream of winning a jackpot that hits 0.00001% of the time.
Types of Progressives
Fortune Pai Gow Poker
This version of the extremely popular game Pai Gow Poker allows each player to place a side bet before each hand in order to be eligible for the progressive jackpot. This side bet will cost you a total of $1 at various Vegas casinos such as the Wynn and the Golden Nugget, while in some places it can reach up to $5.
Like most progressive jackpot games, Fortune Pai Gow rewards their progressive jackpot to anyone who hits the best hand possible. If you are unfamiliar with the game of Pai Gow you might expect this hand to be a royal flush but it is actually a seven-card straight flush. It does not matter which order your cards are in or whether there is a joker involved since you will be rewarded with 100% of the jackpot either way.
What sets this Pai Gow progressive jackpot apart from others is that they also reward any player who hits five aces with 10% of the jackpot. You do not need to make any extra bets to be eligible for this smaller jackpot since it is included in the aforementioned 1$ side bet.
The breakeven sweet spot that the jackpot must reach in order to make this game beatable is right around $243,000. However, you might spend a lifetime looking for a Fortune Pai Gow progressive jackpot that has reached this high. If you do find a jackpot this high, you will need to play on that table for quite a long time since a seven-card straight flush only shows up once every 676,066 hands.
Progressive 3-Card Poker
If you wish to qualify for the progressive jackpot in Progressive 3-Card Poker you will need to make a $1 side bet at the beginning of each hand. After each hand, a small percentage of all wagers will be added to the jackpot amount which is common in progressive jackpot games.
The only way to win the jackpot in Progressive 3-Card Poker is to hit a mini royal flush which consists of an ace, a king, and a queen. The only catch is that the royal flush must be in the suit of spades or you will not win the jackpot. The odds of hitting this jackpot is one in every 22,100 hands, which is pretty frequent compared to other games.
The breakeven point that this jackpot must reach in order for the house edge to become less than 0% depends on the specific paytable and how many players are at the table. For most pay tables, this breakeven point is approximately $11,000 and you can subtract $175 from that amount for each player at the table.
Caribbean Stud Poker
Finally, we come to a table game that has a progressive jackpot built into the original version of the game. Thanks to this rare feature, you will not have any trouble finding this game in most casinos on the internet or anywhere around the world.
Much like many of the other progressive jackpot table games that we have already talked about, you will need to make a special side bet of $1 before each hand is dealt to qualify for the jackpot. Normally, around 60-70% of every side bet will contribute to the progressive jackpot amount.
The question that everyone should be asking at this point is whether or not this $1 side bet is a profitable bet to make. The answer to this question depends on the specific paytable that your Caribbean Stud Poker table uses and how high the jackpot amount is.
There are many different types of pay tables in existence for Caribbean Stud Poker and they vary wildly as far as how the progressive jackpot is distributed. While some paytables only pay 100% of the jackpot for a royal flush, some tables also pay out 10% of the jackpot for a straight flush and 1%-5% of the jackpot to a four of a kind.
When it comes to the breakeven point that the jackpot must reach in order for the game to become profitable for the player, the amount can vary greatly depending on your payout table. This is no exaggeration since this range is anywhere from $29,000 to $425,000. It might seem like common sense, but the paytables that include percentage payouts for more than just a royal flush are the ones that have the lowest breakeven points.
Progressive Let It Ride
Let It Ride is a common casino game that occasionally offers a progressive jackpot. In order to qualify for this progressive jackpot, you need to make a “Jackpot Bet” of $1 before each hand begins.
If you manage to hit a royal flush, which happens 0.0001539% of the time, then you will win 100% of the progressive jackpot amount that is displayed on the meter. If you land a straight flush, which happens 0.0013851% of the time, then you will be rewarded with 10% of the total progressive jackpot amount.
The breakeven point that this jackpot must reach before the house edge is negated is $142,161. While this might seem like a large amount, there have been many large jackpots in the past that caused the house edge to be diminished all the way down to -30%.
Progressive Blazing 7’s Blackjack
Blazing 7’s is a variation of blackjack that rewards a certain percentage of the progressive jackpot to those who make a special side bet and then hit a strong enough hand. The side bet that you need to make before every hand in order to be eligible for this progressive jackpot is usually between $1 and $5.
While these games will always use six decks, the pay tables will be quite different from casino to casino. This results in a wide range of possible breakeven points in this game and it all depends on which variation and pay table you are using.
The top hand on the pay table will always receive 100% of the jackpot, and the second best hand possible will receive 10% of the jackpot amount. The top hand is usually going to be three suited sevens or three diamond sevens, and the second-best hand is usually three suited sevens or three colored sevens.
The breakeven point that the jackpot must reach at a Blazing 7’s table before any player has an edge is always going to vary greatly depending on the pay table and the size of the side bet. The pattern that can be found here is that the smaller the side bet is, the less the breakeven point will be. You can easily deduce this by seeing that the range of jackpot breakeven points on a $1 side bet ranges from $20,000 to $100,000 while a $5 side bet features a $100,000 to $500,000 breakeven point range.
Progressive Ultimate Texas Hold’Em
Ultimate Texas Hold’Em is a special variation of the popular poker game No Limit Hold’Em which commonly features a progressive jackpot. After you make the required side bet of either $1 or $5 you put yourself in the running to win a percentage of the progressive jackpot.
The only ways to win a piece of the progressive pie in Progressive Ultimate Texas Hold’Em are to hit a royal flush or a straight flush against the dealer. A royal flush will commonly pay 100% of the jackpot amount while a straight flush will usually pay 10% of the jackpot amount.
If you discount those top two hands, the return on this game is 53%. As you can imagine, this means that the jackpot’s breakeven point where the player starts to gain an advantage is going to be relatively high compared to other games. The $1 side bet will normally have a breakeven point of between $150,000 and $160,000 while the $5 side bet will usually have a breakeven point of between $750,000 and $800,000.
Progressive jackpot games are one of the best features of a casino because they make it entirely possible to become an instant millionaire in some cases. Even though slot machines might appear to have a monopoly on these types of games, there are a ton of table games that feature exciting progressive jackpots as well. Some of these games include Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, Blazing 7’s Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Fortune Pai Gow and Progressive 3-Card Poker.
Most table games that feature a progressive jackpot will require you to make a small side bet before each hand if you want to qualify. If you happen to hit one of the top hands on the pay table for your specific game, then you will be rewarded with a percentage of the jackpot prize.
The breakeven point on these progressive jackpots tells you exactly what dollar amount the jackpot prize must be for the player to begin to have an edge in the long run. Depending on whether you are playing for profit or fun, you can use these numbers to decide if the current jackpot size fits your goal.
It is important to remember that these progressive jackpots are very tough to hit and you should not be gambling with money that you really need any time in the near future just to try and win one. When the jackpots are low, the house edge can be as high as 30%-40% which means that you should just be gambling for fun in these sorts of games without expecting to hit a jackpot.