How to Play Progressive Video Poker

Progressive video poker answers the criticism of those who feel that video poker doesn’t offer enough of a jackpot payout to players. It does this by featuring a flexible payoff for the royal flush, which is the highest-paying hand in the game. If you catch the game at the right level, it can make for a profitable gambling experience.

Video Poker

People who play video poker with regularity often rave about its benefits to everyone around them. It’s a game that takes elements of slot machines and mixes it up with the strategic aspects of table games. What comes out of that mixture is a game that is both easy and fun to play and offers lucrative payback.

The most popular version of video poker is known as Jacks or Better. That’s because the lowest-paying winning hand is a pair of jacks or higher.

From there, the payouts rise as the hands get harder to attain. At the top of the pay table sits the royal flush, which is extremely rare but pays off massively if you can achieve it.

If you’re playing a regular pay table, whether it’s a Jacks or Better game or ever a Bonus Poker style pay table, the payout for the royal flush is generally set in stone. It stands at 250 to 1 if you bet one through four coins. Then, it rises to 800 to 1 if you bet five coins, which puts your payback at 4,000 coins.

What Makes Progressive Video Poker Different

Progressive video poker allows that payoff to rise. Like progressive slot machines or other casino games that put progressive elements in play, the payoff continues to rise until someone hits it. Then, it resets at its original 4,000-coin level.

What does this mean to you as a player?

Well, it’s still very rare for a royal flush, which is when you manage to end up with a 10, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit to come up during gameplay. If you play progressive video poker only occasionally, you will be hard-pressed to reap any of the rewards of the rising jackpot.

But if you’re someone who plans to play certain machines on a regular basis, you might play enough hands where it becomes mathematically likely that you’ll end up with a royal flush. And when you do, you’ll appreciate the payback that you get from a progressive video poker jackpot.

The other thing you have to consider if you’re a regular video poker player is if the rest of the pay table stands up to what you need. Just because there’s a progressive video poker machine in play, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be profitable or beneficial to play. The other pay amounts on the pay table might actually be so low that the rising jackpot still can’t raise payback high enough.

In the following article, we’ll explain all the ins and outs of progressive video poker. We’ll take a look at how basic video poker is played and what the progressive aspect will do to the pay tables and payback percentage. And we’ll also take a look at how the rising jackpot can sometimes affect your strategy for playing the game.

Why Video Poker Is so Popular

Progressive video poker is only one of the many varieties of video poker that you might come upon, either in a casino or as part of an online gambling website. Variety is one of the great things about games. There are games with unique pay tables and others with special twists.

But, for the most part, they’re all based somewhat on the basic form of Jacks or Better that was in place when video poker first came into existence. If you can learn how to play a basic hand of video poker, you’ll be all set to try progressive video poker or any other variation on the basic game, whether at a casino or at a top real money online gambling website.

What you’ll quickly come to understand, once you start playing video poker regularly, is that it’s a game that holds a lot of benefits for gamblers. You might break down the two types of games found in casinos into table games and slot machines.

Video poker kind of sits in the middle of those two games, taking some of the best parts of both and leaving out the worst. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that video poker benefits gamblers:

  • Ease of Play: It shouldn’t take you very long to get up and running playing video poker, especially if you have a little bit of a poker background. Even if you don’t, the game is quick and easy to learn. After a few hands, you should have a basic understanding of the rhythm of play.
  • Self-Contained Nature: When you play video poker, you don’t need any help from anybody else in the casino. Nor, for that matter, will you have to endure scrutiny from other gamblers or employees. It’s just you at a machine playing at whatever pace you choose in whatever manner you wish.
  • Strategic Element: When you play video poker, you will have choices to make that will impact the outcome of each hand. Make those choices correctly according to the mathematics of the game, and you’ll do better in the long run than someone who doesn’t. Thus, even though it’s easy to play, video poker still provides an interesting challenge.
  • Probability Factor: You have the ability to use probability math to make the correct decisions about hold and discarding cards from your video poker hand. In addition, you can use that math to figure out how often to expect winning hands during gameplay. And you can use it to determine how well a machine might pay back.
  • High Payback: Video poker, on average, returns more to players than slot machines. And it comes close in that department to table games. Some video poker machines, including progressive video poker machines, might even give players a chance at making a regular profit.
  • Easy Online Play: If you play video poker online, you’ll notice the experience is very similar to what you would get in a casino. The same type of software is involved, so there isn’t any change in gameplay. And you can find many of the top casino varieties of video poker online as well.

As you can see, there’s a lot to like about video poker. Come to think of it, we’re guessing that you’re going to love it. Let’s learn about how to play the basic game before moving on to what progressive video poker entails.

Playing Video Poker

Step 1: The Bankroll

To win money playing video poker, you have to bet money. This is where your bankroll comes into play. It will allow you to make wagers and will also be where your winnings are collected.

If you’re playing video poker in a casino, you’ll create a bankroll by putting money or a redemption ticket into the slot at the bottom of the machine. Or, if you’re playing online, you’ll have to sign up for an account at a gambling website then fund that account.

Your bankroll will appear as a series of credits or coins. These will be based on the denomination of the machine or online game you’re playing. Denominations can range from small amounts like a penny to bigger amounts like a dollar.

As an example, imagine that you put $10 into a 25-cent machine. Divide 10 by .25 and you’ll end up with the number 40. That means that you’ll have 40 credits to use for gameplay.

Step 2: The Bet

Most video poker games allow you to wager between one and five coins. It’s highly advised that you bet the maximum five credits, also known as the max bet, for each hand that you play. And, in the case of progressive video poker, you should heed this advice even more seriously.

As we mentioned above, the payoff for the royal flush will keep rising on a progressive video poker machine until someone hits it. However, that access can only be granted to you if you’re betting five coins. If you bet between one and four coins and get a royal flush, you’ll only be paid 250 to 1 even as the progressive jackpot will keep rising.

It’s understandable if you think betting five coins per hand might be a little expensive. But you’re really hurting yourself if you don’t do it. Imagine the disappointment if you do hit the royal flush and miss out on the monster payoff because of the bet.

We suggest you pick a denomination that will allow you to bet five credits per hand and still play the game for as long as you’d like. If you find yourself wanting to lower your bet just to try and keep your bankroll afloat, you should find a machine with a lower denomination.

Step 3: The Hand

Video poker pretty much mimics the table game known as Five-Card Draw. The mechanics of deal then draw are pretty much the same. So too are the combinations of cards you’ll be striving to make.

But there are some differences. In video poker, you don’t have to beat an entire table’s worth of players. You just have to satisfy the requirements of a winning hand that are set forth by the pay table.

You also don’t have to worry about dealing with bluffs or other deceptive betting techniques. Again, it’s just you and the machine.

As for those winning hands that will pay back in video poker, you have to understand that they occasionally differ from game to game, depending on the pay table and the style of play. For example, games with wild cards have a higher threshold (usually three of a kind) than normal pay tables that only require Jacks or Better.

For the most part, however, these are the hands at which you’ll be aiming when playing a hand of video poker:

  • Pair of jacks or better
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (five cards of consecutive rank, like 3-4-5-6-7)
  • Flush (five cards of same suit)
  • Full house (three of a kind and two pair in the same hand)
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush (straight with five cards of same suit)
  • Royal flush (ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit)

Looking at this list, you need to understand that the highest-paying hands are at the bottom. These are also the hands that are the hardest to achieve based on the probabilities of a 52-card deck. The easier the hand is to make, the less it pays.

That’s what makes the decision-making process of video poker so interesting. You will always be trying to judge the possibility of making a winning hand against the possible payoff. Let’s walk you through the process to demonstrate.

Once you have your bankroll in place and have made your first bet, five cards will appear on the screen of the machine or whatever device you’re using. These cards will come from a 52-card deck within the software of the machine, a deck exactly like the one you might have at home. The deal is completely random every time.

That’s an important thing to understand. There’s nothing to stop you from getting the ace of spades on five consecutive hands. Nor is there anything stopping you from not seeing that card for 20 hands.

In any case, when you get your five cards, you’ll look to see whether or not there’s anything in them that’s worth holding onto as the hand advances. You’ll base this on the winning combinations above. Perhaps you’ll get lucky on the deal and have one of those winning combinations in your hand right off the bat.

Even if you don’t, the draw will allow you another chance. On the draw, any cards that you have decided to discard will be replaced with others from the deck. The deck will include 47 cards at this point, since the five from the deal have already been used.

Here’s an example of how this decision-making might work. Imagine that you received the following deal:

Poker Hand - Four of Hearts, Ten of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Queen of Spades, Ace of Hearts

Taking a look at this hand, you should be able to see that you already have a winning combination in place. The pair of queens would get you an even-money return (meaning that you would receive the amount that you bet back). You could also improve on the draw if you dump the other three cards, with two pair, three of a kind, a full house, or even four of a kind in play.

Or you could choose to break up that winning combination in pursuit of other winning hands. With four hearts on the deal, you would need only one more on the draw to make a flush if you were to drop the queen of spades. Your chances: 9 (that’s how many hearts are left in the deck) out of 47 (that’s how many total cards are still in the deck).

But there’s still one other possibility, and that’s the most enticing of all—a royal flush. If you kept only the ten, queen, and ace of hearts, you would leave open the possibility of drawing the jack and king of hearts to complete the royal flush.

Granted, your odds of doing so are extremely long to make this hand. But the risk might be worth it for the potential payout, especially with a possibly high jackpot in progressive video poker.

This hand is a tough one to figure. Many other deals in video poker will provide you with more clear-cut choices. In the strategy section, we’ll tell you how to make these decisions properly.

In any case, once you make your final choice, you will press the buttons that correspond to the cards that you want to hold (if any). The draw will then take place and replacements will be made. Your hand will be complete at this time and any winnings will be added to your bankroll.

You can continue playing in this manner as long as you still have credits in your bankroll. If you choose, you can also cash out and pick up a redemption ticket. This can be used for other casino games or can be traded in for cash.

That’s how video poker works. Now, it’s time to look into progressive video poker and the way the rising jackpot affects play.

Progressive Video Poker Considerations

As we’ve established, progressive video poker creates excitement by including a payout for the royal flush that’s always on the rise until someone hits it. Once they do, the machine resets and the progressive jackpot starts all over again.

How each particular progressive video poker machine does this can differ from situation to situation. The big way that it differs is in the determining factor for how the payout goes up.

In some casinos, you might find a bank of progressive video poker machines where every bet on those machines raises the overall jackpot for the royal flush. For example, if you had five machines involved, their payoffs for the royal flush would be coordinated. The minute someone hits the jackpot on one of the five machines, they will all reset and the process will start over.

You’ll also see variety in terms of how much it takes in terms of the bet amount for the jackpot in progressive video poker to rise. For example, it might take $10 wagered for the jackpot to rise 10 cents. That’s a pretty standard amount.

If you find that a machine has a lower threshold in terms of how a bet affects the jackpot, that’s beneficial to you. It means the jackpot will rise much faster.

Making a Profit Playing Progressive Video Poker

Usually, gamblers who play video poker have to deal with a built-in house edge. The house edge comes into play in most casino games. It essentially means games are set up so that the player, on average, loses a little money.

There are rare pay tables that remove this house edge. Games like these push the payback percentage for a player over 100%. In other words, your average outcome for a video poker session will result in a profit.

But most video poker machine or online versions don’t reach the 100% standard. We often recommend games where the payback sits at 99% or higher. That kind of payback will allow you to recoup losses through rewards from casinos or top online gambling sites.

Progressive video poker changes this equation somewhat. As the payback for the royal flush rises, so too will the payback percentage. Ideally, you can catch the game at a point where the progressive jackpot has raised the payback percentage over 100%.

How can you do that? Video poker calculators are a great way. Video poker calculators allow you to input the amounts on a pay table then find out what the payback percentage for that pay table is.

In this way, you can take the guesswork about whether or not the jackpot of a progressive video poker machine rises to the level where you need it to be. You’ll still need to be lucky enough to hit the royal flush to maximize your earnings potential. But anytime you have the math in your favor to beat the house, you should seize that opportunity.

Pay Tables for Progressive Video Poker

Progressive video poker can be used in conjunction with just about any style of pay table you can imagine. That’s because most pay tables have the royal flush as the main target hand. As a result, the progressive aspect simply needs to be applied to that.

What you may find with progressive video poker, however, is that the pay tables associated with it don’t quite rise to the full-pay level. By full-pay, we mean the payouts for each hand are structured in such a way that the payback percentage is higher than any other within that family of pay tables.

For example, the full-pay version of a Jacks or Better pay table is often called a 9/6 Jacks or Better pay table. 9 refers to the payout for a full house (9 to 1) and 6 refers to the payout for a flush (6 to 1). If you can find a Jacks or Better pay table like this, your payback percentage will sit at an excellent 99.54%.

But casinos and online gambling sites don’t like to lose money. If they were to apply the progressive video poker twist to a full-pay table, it wouldn’t take very long for the jackpot to rise to a point where payback sits well over 100%.

For that reason, you will often see depressed pay tables for progressive video poker machine. Look below at the pay table below for Jacks or Better. You’ll see that it’s an 8/5 machine, meaning 8 to 1 for the full house and 5 to 1 for the flush, both lower than what you would get from a full-pay machine.

None of this might matter too much to you, especially if you’re a casual video poker player. For you, just the prospect of hitting a massive jackpot on a progressive video poker might be enough. You probably won’t be too worried about the various pay tables and the payback percentages attached to them.

But if you want to be serious about winning at video poker over the long term, you need to understand the differences. And you need to know how the progressive video poker rising jackpot adjusts those tables.

Here’s a sampling of some of the pay tables available on progressive video poker and as part of online games.

Jacks or Better Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full house 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Bonus Poker Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind (aces) 80 160 240 320 400
Four of a kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) 40 80 120 160 200
Four of a kind (any other) 20 40 60 80 100
Full house 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Bonus Poker Deluxe Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 80 160 240 320 400
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Double Bonus Poker Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind (aces) 160 320 480 640 800
Four of a kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) 80 160 240 320 400
Four of a kind (any other) 50 100 150 200 250
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 7 14 21 28 35
Straight 5 10 15 20 25
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Double Double Bonus Poker Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four aces without any 2,3,4 400 800 1,200 1,600 2,000
Four 2s, 3s, 4s without any A,2,3,4 160 320 480 640 800
Four aces 160 320 480 640 800
Four 2s, 3s, 4s 80 160 240 320 400
Four 5s through Ks 50 100 150 200 250
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of jacks + 1 2 3 4 5

Triple Double Bonus Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 200 400 600 800 ?
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind – aces 2, 3, 4 kicker 800 1,600 2,400 3,200 4,000
Four of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s A, 2, 3, or 4 kicker 400 800 1,200 1,600 2,000
Four of a kind – aces 5s – Ks kicker 160 320 480 640 800
Four of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s 5s – Ks kicker 80 160 240 320 400
Four of a kind – any other 50 100 150 200 250
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 7 14 21 28 35
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of jacks + 1 2 3 4 5

Deuces Wild Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 ?
Four deuces 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
Five of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
Four of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Full house 4 8 12 16 20
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

Strategy for Progressive Video Poker

Whenever we mention payback percentages, you have to understand that the only way you can possibly reach them is if you play with perfect strategy. You might not realize it, but in every deal of video poker for every possible play table, there’s a single combination of holds and discards that will give you the best chance of winning.

Progressive video poker confuses that scenario somewhat. As the jackpot for the royal flush rises, it can change the strategy on the fly.

What do we mean? Well, let’s go back to that sample deal we used above to explain:

Poker Hand - Four of Hearts, Ten of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Queen of Spades, Ace of Hearts

No matter what pay table you might be playing, the mathematically correct play here is to keep the pair of queens. It assures you of getting your money back, and you’ll have three new cards on the draw which can improve it even more.

But at some point, the jackpot in Progressive video poker might rise so high that it makes it worth your while to go for the royal flush by keeping the ten, queen, and ace of hearts only. Even though it would take something of a miracle draw to get you the royal flush, the jackpot will reach a point where you have to take that chance.

That’s why learning a strategy for progressive video poker can be a little bit tricky. Luckily, those video poker calculators that we mentioned earlier can help with this as well. One other way they work is by showing you the ideal play for a deal based on a pay table.

As a result, if you input a pay table, including where the jackpot for the royal flush stands on a Progressive video poker machine, you can get the right information for each possible deal. That requires a bit more work than if you were playing a regular machine. But that work will be worth it if it helps you turn a profit.

Besides that consideration, you should factor in these two methods for learning perfect video poker strategy.

Video Poker Software

Video poker software teaches you through repetition. You play hands as if you were actually playing in a casino and are faced with the same kinds of decisions about holding and discarding certain cards. When you make a wrong choice, the software will alert you to the right one.

If you choose a good software training program, it will often let you customize training to certain pay tables. This will really come in handy if you’re trying to learn progressive video poker. You can set the payment for the royal flush wherever you need it to be and get the proper instruction.

Strategy Charts

Strategy charts might not be as well-suited to progressive video poker. You’ll find them online, and they’re based mainly on whatever type of pay table you’re playing. There is really no way you can adjust them to account for a rising jackpot.

Still, strategy charts, which rank combinations of cards in terms of their value, are a good way to learn video poker strategy on the fly. If you can memorize one, you can take that knowledge into the casino and achieve perfect play.

Progressive Video Poker Pros and Cons

Pros of Progressive Video Poker

  • Jackpot can rise to levels much higher than most normal video poker games
  • Payback percentage can rise above 100% when the jackpot gets way up there
  • Many different pay tables can use the progressive format
Cons of Progressive Video Poker

  • Pay tables are somewhat depressed from full-pay levels for the most part
  • Strategy can be tricky to learn since you have to account for the rising jackpot
  • Much of the payback is tied into the royal flush, which is a difficult hand to achieve

Progressive Video Poker Conclusion

Progressive video poker lets you dream of the kind of massive, one-shot payout that is otherwise relatively rare in video poker. It might take a little strategy adjustment as you swing your focus to the royal flush. But if you time it right and get a little lucky, your rewards can be massive.