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Gaming Guru

 

The Lure of the Progressives

3 January 2005

There are several versions of Video Poker which inherently return more than 100% to expert players, who have learned the optimum way to read the hands and discard the right cards. Full-pay Deuces Wild at 100.6% and full-pay Joker Wild (pay Aces and Kings) at 100.4% are examples of such games with fixed pay schedules.

There are many other games which return so close to 100% that for all practical purposes, the players have many opportunities to walk away winning. Full-pay Jacks-or-Better, Reversible Royals and Sequential Royals are typical of these. Their fixed schedules can return 99.3-99.6% to expert players.

Another large segment of Video Poker games, not so liberal in their posted pay schedule, attract players by offering a large Jackpot for some special hand, usually a Royal Flush or some particular Four-of-a-Kind hand. The average payback of these machines, based on the fixed paytable is relatively low, 97.5-98.3% being typical.

The jackpot is allocated a portion of the action, generally about one-half percent, so that it progressively increases during the intervals between hits. All the money in the jackpot above the minimum "reset" level is contributed by the players, not the house, so players who join the game when the jackpot is swollen are in fact playing at a higher expected payback because earlier contestants were not so lucky. The house is merely distributing, not contributing in this process.

To take maximum advantage of such progressives, players will want to come in when the jackpot is large enough to make the game expectation 100% or more. In most cases, progressives do not attain 100% payback so some patience is in order.

This table identifies Quarter Machines at 100% payback:

Type of game Jackpot on Size of Jackpot
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jacks or Better
Full Pay (9/6) Royal Flush $1,200
5-coin play
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jacks or Better
Full Pay (9/6) Sequential Royal $24,500
5-coin play One Way
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jacks or Better
Reduced (8/5) Royal Flush $2,350
5-coin play
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jacks or Better
Reduced (8/5) Sequential Royal $80,000
5-coin play Both Ways L-R or R-L
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jacks or Better
Reduced (8/5) Sequential Royal $160,000
5-coin play One Way
--------------------------------------------------------------
Deuces Wild
Reduced (10/4)* Natural Royal $3,900
5-coin play
--------------------------------------------------------------
Crazy 8's Four Eights or $500(8's) & $3,000 (RF)
(8/5; K's up) Royal Flush $600(8's) $ $2,000 (RF)
5-coin play $700(8's) & $1,000 (RF)
--------------------------------------------------------------
* 10-13 on Straight. Flush and 4 on Quads
--------------------------------------------------------------

Some words of caution are very much needed by progressives players. The fact that the machine is at/above 100% payback does not guarantee that anyone will hit the jackpot in any specified period of time. Nor does it improve your chances of being a winner if you don't hit that big jackpot, because the non-jackpot payback is still at the tight level dictated by the pay-table. Finally, we have selected quarter games for illustration; dollar progressives can give players another problems to contend with---finding a seat as well as finding the Royal.

Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com
Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com