Getting progressive

There are two kinds of video poker games—those with payouts that are static and those with payouts that change. The latter are known as “progressives.” On progressive video poker machines, one or more of the jackpot meters rises as players pump in money without hitting them. The progressive is almost always attached to the long-shot royal flush, though it can also be on the straight flush, four-of-a-kind or any other payout.

What makes progressives important to knowledgeable players is that they all have the potential to cross over the “break-even point”—the level at which the advantage shifts from the casino to the player, due to the size of the jackpot. Being able to analyze progressives and play them correctly for profit is complicated. But playing a machine where it’s possible to have an expected return above 100 percent is better than playing one where it isn’t, regardless of your skill level. That’s where some new video poker progressives recently installed at M Resort come into play.

Developed by video poker experts Frank Kneeland and Bob Dancer (hence, the name “FranknBobs”), the meters on these machines are attached to multiple games and move faster than any other in town. This means there’s almost always at least one game available that’s in positive-return territory. How can you tell which? Here’s how: Any machine with a royal flush at $2,700 or above is positive. In reality, a couple of the games get there earlier, but at $2,700, all eight schedules are above break-even.

Don’t go crazy; there are a couple of big drawbacks associated with playing progressive video poker. The biggest is that because payouts have to be lower on non-jackpot hands, you’re losing at a faster rate when you don’t hit the royal (which is almost always). It’s not impossible to leave a winner when you don’t pop the royal, but it’s less likely on progressives. A second negative is it’s more difficult to play machines with high jackpots properly, so most won’t really be playing with an advantage, even with the royal at the designated play point.

Still, this is one of the better options for players. Be sure to have a players card inserted, so you get some goodies back for your play. And if you want to do some work on improving your video poker skills with the good books and software available, all the better.

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