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# Ask the Slot Expert: When does progressive 8/5 Jacks go positive?

16 February 2017

Question: I play the Progressive Joker Poker machines in Harrah's AC. I am wondering what the odds are of getting five-of-a-kind.

Answer: You can expect to hit a five-of-a-kind about once every 11,000 hands, on the average on Joker Poker.

The key phrase is on the average. You won't get a quint every 11,000th hand. But if you divide the number of times you hit a five-of-a-kind by the total number of hands you played, the ratio will get closer and closer to 1/11,000 the more you play.

Question: I have two separate questions and think about them a lot as I play my favorite slot and video poker games. First, on progressive video poker, how much does the progressive jackpot add to the overall payout percentage? In other words, if I am on a 8/5 Jacks or Better, at what amount does the jackpot need to be to create a positive expectation?

Second, I love to play the lightning strike type games and there is a choice of four different denominations: penny, two cents, nickels and dimes. Is the slot machine programmed at the same payout percentage for all four denominations or as I choose the higher denomination does the payout percentage set on the machine increase?

Answer: Starting with your second question, it's possible that the long-term payback can be higher for the higher denominations. We definitely see this on multi-denomination video poker machines, where we can tell the long-term payback from the paytable.

On a slot machine, though, we can't tell anything about long-term payback from looking at the paytable. Two machines with different long-term paybacks will have the same paytable. Slot designers change the long-term payback on a slot machine by changing the layout of the symbols on the reels, changing how frequently each symbol lands on the payline. Video poker machines can't make some cards more likely to be dealt than others, so the only way to change the long-term payback of a video poker machine is to change the paytable.

So, it's possible that the higher denominations have higher long-term paybacks, but I don't count on it. I usually play the lowest denomination choice on multi-denomination slot machines.

Turning to your first question, progressive 8/5 Jacks or Better is breakeven when the royal is worth 8666 credits. The royal flush contributes 0.02 percentage points to 8/5 Jacks' 97.3 long-term payback when the royal is the base 4,000 credits. Its contribution increases ever so slowly as the value of the royal climbs. At breakeven, its contribution is 0.05 percentage points — which is what we would expect because we have to climb about three hundredths of a percentage point to go from 0.973 to 1.00.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots