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VIDEO POKER AND PROGRESSIVE JACKPOT GAMES

Because video poker has become one of the most popular forms of gambling in casinos and online, the video poker industry is always trying to reinvent itself with new games, new bonuses, new promotions, new jackpots and new themes.  There are also new kinds of progressives.  And on this page we are going to update some of these new variations of video poker -- the ones that work, and the ones that don't.  And we will tell you about progressives paid on royal flushes and other big hands.  And we will tell you about video poker play online.

RED ROCK CASINO NEAR LAS VEGAS FOR SEQUENTIAL PROGRESSIVES

Update February 29, 2016  One of the most intriguing video poker progressives is at the Red Rock Casino in Summerlin near Las Vegas. Red Rock offers progressive jackpots on royals in any order and sequential royal flushes. There are progressives paid on various denominations including 25-cents, $1 and $2 games, and there are sequential progressive jackpots that are paid whether the sequentials run low to high or high to low. Red Rock calls these "reversible royal" jackpots. Because sequential royals are not your everyday, run of the mill, one in 40,000 hands royals, the jackpots tend to rise to huge levels.

I just called Red Rock as I started this report and the $2 video poker game has a "regular progressive" of $9,580 (starts at $8,000) while the "reversible royal" jackpot is at $103,856 which is almost 13-times what a standard $2 royal pays. There are various games eligible for these progressives. 

If you are going to hit a progressive royal like the one hit at Caesars Palace in the photo below hit it at Red Rock where you will get a huge bonus.

Sequential royal flush hit at Caesars Palace.
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If hit at Red Rock at $2 it would have been worth more.

VIDEO POKER PROGRESSIVES HAVE REDUCED PAY TABLES

Update April 17, 2013  It is not unusual for video poker progressives to have some kind of reduced paytable.  The progressive jackpot is supposed to be the lure and to finance the jackpot on a royal flush or on certain quads, the pays on full houses and flushes are often reduced.  But some pays are reduced more than others, and some progressives do not increase as much per play as others.  This is why you should check both the pay table and the rate of increase in the progressive jackpot before you play in addition to the jackpot amounts.

Many players will avoid, for example, a small progressive on an 8/5 Double Double Bonus game when nearby there are regular DDB games that pay 9/5 (nine coins for a full house, five coins for a flush) nearby.  Only when the jackpots become exceedingly high does it make sense to move to the lower paying pay table of a progressive game.

CAESARS PALACE GIVES LOW LIMIT VIDEO POKER PLAYERS A BETTER PROGRESSIVE GAME

Update July 22, 2012  Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is not known for having the best video poker pay tables.  In fact, the pay tables are pretty weak.  At the $1 level you will find 7/5 Bonus games (7 coins for a full house, 5 coins for a flush) and you have to move up to the $5 per coin level to find just a few of the full-pay 8/5 Bonus games.  Ironically there are $1, $2, $5 games that also pay 7/5.  Some of the 25-cent Bonus Poker games even have pay tables as poor as 6/5.  That's why we were surprised to find out that in the video poker area of the Forum Casino (near the Forum Shops and the parking garage entrance) there is a kiosk of 25-cent video poker progressive games that have pay tables that are as good as some of the $1 and higher games -- plus they have a progressive jackpot for the royal flush.

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Here's a photo of the 25-cents per coin Bonus Poker progressive game.  You will notice the 7/5 pay table which is what you will find on all of the $1 per coin Bonus games, plus many of the $5 Bonus games.  And as a bonus to this Bonus Poker game there is the progressive jackpot for the royal flush.  The same royal flush jackpot is paid on several different video poker games on this kiosk including double double bonus, a deuces game, this Bonus Poker game and others.  On many other 25-cents per coin Bonus Poker games the pay table is as weak as 6/5 which of course means that for each coin bet a full house pays six coins, and a flush pays 5 coins.  So the choice is clear at Caesars: if you want to play a 25-cents Bonus Poker game, play the game on the progressive kiosk in the video poker area near the entrance to the Forum Shops.

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And here's a photo of the pay table for Double Double Bonus Poker on the 25-cents per coin progressive kiosk.  This pay table is 9/5 which is the same pay table you will find on $1 per coin and $5 per coin and even higher denomination games.  Again, there are 25-cent Double Double Bonus games with poorer pay tables.  So when you want to find Double Double Bonus at the 25-cents per coin denomination, find this kiosk of progressive games.  You get an improved pay table plus the progressive jackpot amount on the royal flush.

M CASINO IN LAS VEGAS 

We were impressed by the wide selection and the better paytables on video poker offered at the M Casino in Las Vegas, and the new types of video poker games it has tried.

THE MAXIMUM ROYALS VIDEO POKER PROGRESSIVES HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE M CASINO.  A LOOK BACK AT THIS INTRIGUING PLAY.

Update August 24, 2011   Well, they were fun while they lasted.  Maximum Royals was the promotion that the M Casino launched a couple of months ago, but they were removed.  One professional video poker player told me that the management at the M removed the games because the casino wasn't making enough of a profit from them, and of course that makes sense since casinos want to offer games that are supposed to be profitable to keep the doors open and the lights on.  But we're disappointed because this was a unique kind of progressive game for video poker. 

When they operated, there were three kiosks in the casino for the 25-cents, 50-cents, and $1 games.  What immediately got your attention was the wording "get up to 102.5% payback" on the signs in the casino.  It certainly got my attention because the goal of all video poker players is to find the game that will give you a profit over long term play with the proper strategy.  And there was other promotional material from the M Casino which said the payback could be even greater than 102.5% and I obtained from the Slot Department at the M Casino a payback sheet which indicates that the payback can rise to greater than 104% and there is more on this below.  And I should point out that "players club benefits" were in addition to whatever "advantage" or payback that the progressive royals gave you.  However, as I pointed out in my original reports about these games, there was a lot of risk in trying to get this kind of big return.

Below is the screen that was on the $1 Maximum Royals games at the M Casino.  The Maximum Royals were designed so that the progressive jackpot amount on the Royal Flush increased rapidly -- at the expense of lower pays on some other, more common hands.  No matter which game you were playing (say you were playing Bonus Poker), a portion of your contribution to the royal flush progressives went to each of the eight games.  Look, for example, at the progressive jackpot on the Royal Flush for Bonus Poker in the photo taken on May 28, 2011 which is the second photo below.

And below is that Bonus Poker pay table showing the pay with five coins in.  Notice that the progressive jackpot was limited to just the royal flush.  Some other casinos also offer progressives on other hands including four of a kinds or a straight flush.  But at the M Casino, only the royal flush had a progressive jackpot.  And because only the royal flush was fed by the progressive contribution of each player, the royal flush jackpot increased faster.  Also keep in mind that each player's contribution to the royal progressives was divided among all eight games, so players were also funding a royal progressive on games they were not playing.

The photo below shows the low end of the pay table, with one coin played -- and in this case one dollar.  Notice that the pay for a full house was only six coins, and the pay for a flush was only five coins.  What is called "full pay Bonus Poker" pays eight coins for a full house and five coins for a flush.  The "full pay Bonus Poker" with the 8/5 paytable returns 99.2% over the long term with correct strategy.  But we were told that the 6/5 paytable with a normal royal flush of 4,000 coins will return only 96.87% which in the world of video poker is a game that the "experts" will not even touch.  But we later found out that the experts flocked to these machines when the paytables became "positive" because the payoffs on the royals reached very high levels.

While these games are now part of "Vegas history" it is interesting that they existed and they helped to provide a forum for learning about the game of video poker.  They also provided some lessons for players -- namely that if they didn't hit a royal, they probably lost a lot of money on these games.  There is more information below including a look at the casino's strategy for having these games and more important some notes about your own strategy including when you should play these progressives and more importantly when you should not play them.

The casino's strategy here, according to various people I spoke with, was to offer eight different video poker games with royal flush jackpots that would grow very fast so that they would lure players who want to score a big win with a relatively small bet.  And in doing this, the M Casino risked nothing.  This is because the progressive jackpot is funded (so to speak) only by the players.  The casino does not contribute to the progressive jackpot.  While the M Casino was responsible for the basic royal flush payoff of 4,000 coins, every increase above the 4,000 coins came from a portion of the money bet by players.  To make this contribution to the royal flush jackpot, the rest of the paytable was lowered.  And as you saw above, in the case of Bonus Poker, instead of an 8/5 paytable or a 7/5 paytable that is available at some other Vegas casinos, at the M Casino the paytable was 6/5 for these Maximum Royals machines.

Now, as the royal progressive jackpots increased several things would happen in the "world of video poker."

First, the games became more attractive.  While a poor paytable of 6/5 in Bonus Poker with a 4,000 coin royal flush was not attractive, once the royal flush on the $1 game rose to 10,000 coins the theoretical payback on the game became 100.383% according to the M Casino Slot Department.

I obtained from the Slot Department at the M Casino a chart that showed the theoretical payback on the eight different games that were offered as Maximum Royals Progressives.  If someone didn't hit a royal flush for a longer than expected period of time, the payback on these games could actually reach better than 104%.  But the M Casino was still guaranteed its profit because all of the extra royal flush money came from other video poker players -- and none of it came from the bottom line of the M Casino.  In fact, as the royal flush progressive jackpots increased, there would be more players playing these machines with the poor paytables and that would even increase the profits of the M Casino.  Of course there is nothing wrong with the casino making a profit -- that's how it keeps its doors open.

But now that the machines are gone, what happened to the progressives that were not hit?  Well, following Nevada regulations, officials of the M Casino told me that the "progressive money" was moved from these machines to other machines in the casino.  This is because under Nevada regulations the amount of money contributed by players to a progressive jackpot is considered to be the "players' money" and must be returned to the players in the form of a jackpot.  Yes, the jackpot can be on a different game.

When these progressives were first installed I did some figuring based on the casino's formula for adding to the royal flush progressive jackpots and I found that it would take about 240,000 hands played for all of the royal flush progressives to reach the level of a 100% payback on all eight of the games.  However, in the course of 240,000 hands we could see on average six royal flushes which would take the royal flush progressives back to the "re-set amount" of 4,000 coins on the game that was hit.  So each time a game reset to 4,000 or didn't reach the threshhold of a 100% game, the game continued to be a "negative game."

Keep in mind that on average, a royal flush hits about every 40,000 to 48,000 hands depending on the type of video poker game.  So if it took 240,000 played hands for these "negative paytable games" to become a "postiive game," the reality was that some of them would never reach that advertised payback of 102.5% or perhaps even something close to it.

So what should your strategy be if you ever come across progressive games like these in the future?  Should you even play these  progressives?  Very simply, yes -- you should play them -- when the progressive jackpots are very high and if you feel lucky that you will hit the royal.  Because if you don't hit the royal, you will be losing playing with games with very poor paytables.  In fact, it will be very, very hard if not impossible for you to ever come out ahead unless you do hit one of these progressive royals, unless you have a big run of three of a kinds, or quads.

And so, because the goal is to hit when a progressive jackpot is huge, it becomes obvious that when the progressive jackpots are small you should not be playing these games.  Instead, play other video poker games with much better paytables.  So your first strategy should be to let other players build up the royal flush jackpots on these types of progressives for you before you start playing these games.

There is another strategy to consider, and that is how to adjust your play when the royal flush jackpots are huge.  In those cases, you would adjust "proper strategy" for a strategy that would increase your chances for hitting a royal flush.  Let me give you an example: when I played the Bonus Poker 6/5 Maximum Royals Progressive on May 29, 2011 on the very first hand I was dealt A of hearts, K of hearts, Ace of diamonds and two other cards that were not significant.  The proper strategy in normal play would be to hold the two aces which is a guaranteed win and opens the door to three-of-a-kind and quads.  But if the jackpot for the royal were huge (and at the time of my visit it was not) you would adjust your strategy to hold the Ace of hearts and the King of hearts to give yourself a chance at drawing the royal flush.

We are always looking for the Best Buys and there are even "best buys" when it comes to casino gambling.  Frankly, we had a hard time thinking of these Maximum Royals progressives as "best buys" unless you were the lucky player who hit the royal flush and when the royal flush was giving a payback of greater than 100% or even greater than 104%.  In fact, there is no theoretical limit to just how big the payback can be on these types of games.  The signage at the M Casino simply said "get up to 102.5+% payback" but if the royal didn't get hit for a long, long time after a lot of play, the theoretical payback for the lucky royal flush winner could have been 110% or 150% or --- well, the sky is the limt.  On the other hand, if you are playing these games, and you failed to hit the royal flush, you only made someone else rich, and you helped to boost the profits of the casino because of the inferior pay tables on these games.  And, you also greatly reduced your chance for putting money in your own pocket.

Remember, that when you play a video poker game with a better paytable, you are likely going to get more "play" for your money and the extra play actually gives you extra chances for hitting a royal flush.  To take your chance of hitting a royal flush at these types of progressives with the reduced pay table, you will need a larger bankroll to start playing.  Of course you could use your regular bankroll at each session, but just realize that the paytable will not offer you as many additional plays as you might get on another machine with a better paytable.  Of course, you might get lucky and be dealt a royal flush -- it does happen -- and the odds say it can happen about once in every 629,740 hands or so.

I won't tell you not to play progressives like these, but I will suggest that you adjust your play strategy to "push the royals" or to increase your chance of getting the royal flush once the royal flush progressive jackpots become big enough.

So, how "big" is "big enough" for you to play?  Well, consider this:  In a $1 per coin, 9/6 Jacks or Better game (9 coins for a full house, 6 coins for a flush) the payback is 99.5% over the long term with expert play with a royal flush of 4,000 coins or $4,000.  At the M Casino, the Jacks or Better Maximum Royals progressive game had a paytable with 7/5 and in order for it to come close to a payback of 99.5% the royal flush had to be worth nearly $10,000 or the equivalent of hitting two and a half "standard" royals.  And if you happened to stop by the M Casino and you saw that the royal flush progressive on the 7/5 Jacks or Better $1 machine had reached $16,000 then be aware that the so-called payback had reached 103.455% according to their Slot Department.

So how big did the royal flush jackpots have to be for these various games to reach or exceed the theoretical 100% payback?  Using the chart from the Slot Department at the M Casino, here are their figures.  The first amount is for the $1 games and the second amount is for the 25-cent games:

Jacks or Better 7/5  $12,000   $3,000

Bonus Poker 6/5  $10,000   $2,500

Deuces 16/13/4  $12,000   $3,000

Joker's Wild 17/7  $12,000   $3,000

Double BNS 8/5  $10,000   $2,500

Double Double BNS 8/5  $10,000   $2,500

Bonus Deluxe 7/5  $12,000   $3,000

Super Double BNS 6/5  $12,000   $2,500

And as I noted above, it took about 240,000 hands played for all of those progressive games to reach the theoretical 100% payback level, and in the course of 240,000 there could be a lot of royals that could reset the progressives on those games back to 4,000 coins which is $4,000 on the dollar games and $1,000 on the 25-cent games.

These progressive games are gone from the M now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they show up at some other casino.  We are going to keep this informtion here hoping that it will provide some guidance to other players in the future.

Do you have any comments or questions about this article?  Or any thoughts about video poker play in Las Vegas?  Did you play these games?  Tell us on our FORUM by clicking here.

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.  Our Best Buys TV Show has the best TV deals and is the only regularly scheduled weekly best deals TV show in Southern California.  We show you the best buys and best deals on TV and more deals and bargains on www.alanbestbuys.com and www.bestbuystvshow.com and watch for our Las Vegas TV show Vegas Best Buys.  Some of the content can come from paid advertising and from our advertiser paid TV infomercial programs.  The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.  AlanBestBuys.com has the highest ranking among competitive sites in Southern California according to the independent website ranking companies Alexa.com and Quantcast.com and our Best Buys TV Show is the most watched shopping and consumer information show in Southern California.

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