Dear Mark: I only play progressive video poker machines. You have stated in the past that a higher progressive jackpot will not make a machine any more likely to hit. That said, do you ever recommend playing on machines with lower jackpots? The best paying paytables on progressives where I play are 8/5 Jacks-or-Better machines. What is the "breakeven point" on those machines? Jim C.
The rate at which the progressive meter advances upward on a video poker machine is based on a preset percentage of all the money cycled through the machine. The meter rates will vary from machine to machine, casino to casino. On your typical video poker machine, the meters rise on the average of between .25 and 2 percent, with 1 percent being the industry average.
The cards drawn for use in a video poker hand are selected at random, without regard for what has happened in the past, no matter what the value of the current progressive jackpot is. Commit this to memory, Jim. Video poker machines are never due.
The main reason for playing a high paying progressive video poker machine is that the jackpot can actually reach a size in which the player has a positive expectation. This does not mean the house suddenly loses its built-in edge, only that the money deposited from previous losing players has pushed the jackpot to the point where it causes the machine’s payout potential to cross over from a negative expectation to a positive expectation.
Many successful video poker players, Jim, do just that -- play progressives only when they're positive. When the progressive is hit, and the jackpot returns to its reset amount, smart players pack their bags and move on because the house has an edge again.
All the above said, Jim, with an 8/5 machine (8 for a full house, 5 for a flush with one coin inserted), I recommend a progressive meter that reads at least $440 on a nickel, $2,200 on a quarter and $8,800 on dollar video poker machine. These numbers represent the breakeven point where the long-term payback for the machine is 100 percent. Below these payout levels, move along since there remains a house edge.
Dear Mark: For the blackjack player, is there a set amount of winning hands in a row where you would recommend increasing your bet size? Jed C.
When wagering at blackjack, I lean towards the winning progressive method of betting, setting a predetermined percentage increase after each winning bet. For example, you increase your winning bets by 50 percent after the second win: $10, $10, $15, $22, etc., but maintain the continuously flat bet (the table minimum) when losing.
Be it flat, progressive, or betting the farm once you are ahead, none of these methods will affect the house advantage, nor guarantee that you will win more money. If the casino has an advantage before money management, it still has that same advantage even after you apply any type of money management technique. The reason I like the progressive method of wagering, is that after the second $10 win, you are now betting just your winnings, and by doing so, you minimize your losses.
Remember one thing, Jed, and that is whether you won or lost the previous hand, it has no effect on the results of the next hand. Yes, with smart play, blackjack offers you some of the best odds against the casino. But any time you increase your bet, the cost of playing blackjack increases because you are exposing more of your current bankroll against the built-in house edge.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: I have slept less than any man who ever lived. – Nick "The Greek" Dandalos, Gambling Yesterday and Today (1973)