Is progressive video poker better than playing a standard game? Let's try to give an answer to this question.

progressive versus standard video poker

Many players when they hear the term "progressive jackpot" automatically think of exciting slots, such as Mega Moolah and Jackpot Giant with their multi-million payouts. However, there are several other types of progressive games, and one of them is progressive video poker.

In terms of gameplay, nothing changes between a progressive video poker game and a non-progressive one. This means you can still use your video poker strategy to play to the house edge.

The differences lie within the paytable and base RTP, so it's not a question of 'what' is better? Rather, it's a matter of 'when' is playing progressive video poker the better (potentially more profitable) option?.

Comparing the paytables

When assessing your video poker options, the paytable should be your first port of call. This will reveal the payouts for the game and from that, you can calculate the overall RTP.

It is slightly different when dealing with progressive jackpot video poker, because it depends on the amount that is up for grabs. However, we will come back to that later.

For now, let's assume the progressive is at its seed amount (lowest level), and compare the standard paytables. For this example, we are using Jackpot Deuces (progressive) and Deuces Wild (non progressive), some of the best paying online video poker games by RTP. Both are from Microgaming's portfolio and the gameplay is identical.

Hand Deuces Wild (5 coins) Jackpot Deuces (5 coins)
Diamond Royal Flush N/A Progressive Jackpot
Royal Flush 4000 4000
Four Deuces 1000 1000
Deuces Royal Flush 125 125
Five of a Kind 80 75
Straight Flush 65 45
Four of a Kind 20 20
Full House 10 15
Flush 10 10
Straight 10 10
Three of a Kind 5 5
Return to Player 96,77% 93,89%

If the game is played at 1.00 per coin; the total bet each hand is 5.00. The above figures are how much you would win (cost per coin x paytable values).

We can see that the non-progressive variant offers the higher RTP at this point due to the fact that it pays more for a Straight Flush and Five of a Kind. The reason behind this is that Jackpot Deuces takes 3% from every wager to contribute towards the progressive jackpot prize fund.

When to play progressive video poker

Clearly, when the progressive jackpot is on-par with the standard Royal Flush payout or at its seed amount, there is no benefit to you to play this game. You are more likely to get better returns playing a non-progressive variant.

However, as the jackpot builds, the RTP increases, too. It has been calculated that for every 10,000 in the Jackpot Deuces progressive pot, the RTP value goes up by 1.132%. This results in a tipping point of 53,980. Once the counter passes that number, the game is officially offering a return to player percentage above 100%.

Progressive Jackpot Total RTP (%)
Initial RTP 93.890
10,000 95,022
20,000 96.154
30,000 97.286
40,000 98.418
50,000 99.550
53,980 100.000
60,000 100.682
70,000 101.814

Finding progressive video poker games

Once you know how to calculate the RTP, you'll easily be able to jump in and play these games when the time is right. However, you won't be alone. There are many online video poker players who are also waiting just like you.

The secret is not to set your entry point too high. If you try and wait until the RTP is 101% or 102%, the jackpot may be won before then. It's still a matter of preference when to join, but anywhere over 99.0% is good value we believe.

Round up: progressive video poker

The important things to remember with progressive video poker are that the RTP starts off considerably lower than a non-progressive game.

You must also ensure that you are playing the game using the optimum strategy to increase your chances of winning. As our video poker strategy guide points out, this sometimes means dropping a good hand, if there is a chance of landing the jackpot.

And lastly, don't be too greedy when you join the game. These jackpots quickly climb during the final stages as more and more players are contributing to the pot.

Get in at the right time to give yourself the edge.

Last update: 26-03-2020