Introduction to Progressive Jackpots

Progressive Jackpot

Everyone knows that "jackpot" refers to the highest prize in a game or contest. What does it mean when a jackpot is "progressive"?

Progressive means the jackpot constantly grows until some lucky player wins it. The lottery jackpot is an example of a progressive jackpot. It grows bigger and bigger until someone wins. In casinos, popular games with progressive jackpots include slot machines, video poker and Caribbean stud. With slots and video poker, many machines are often connected to one another to make the jackpot grow faster.

How a Progressive Jackpot Works

Progressive jackpots are set up by the casino to increase at a fixed rate with every play. For example, a progressive slot jackpot may grow by 2% of what is put into the machine each time it is played.

Each machine with a progressive jackpot has a jackpot meter to indicate the total amount of the jackpot. This jackpot meter is often displayed quite prominently to attract more players to try for the jackpot.

All bets put into a slot or video poker machine automatically add to the jackpot. However, for a player to qualify for the jackpot, they must wager the maximum possible coins. Many machines allow up to 5 coins, others 10 coins or more. Naturally, the more coins wagered, the faster the jackpot grows.

To hit the progressive jackpot, it is necessary to hit the most coveted symbols or hands in the game. In video poker, the jackpot is the royal flush. In slot machines, it is a combination of the highest-paying symbols on the reels.

Video Poker and Slots

The odds of hitting a progressive jackpot in a slot machine is often fantastic. However it is different with video poker because there are far fewer possible hands and the royal flush occurs more often. The return for players is always negative in slots, meaning the house always has the upper hand. But in video poker, players get a positive expectation if the jackpot gets big enough. If the jackpot grows to a point that it covers all money put in by a player into the machine, it becomes a positive expectation for him. Progressive jackpot machines are most wanted when the prize has gone very high.

Unfortunately, this characteristic of progressive video poker has made it a target of unscrupulous advantage players. Teams of advantage players often plot to occupy linked video poker machines. They take shifts playing the machines until one of them chances on the jackpot, which they then divide equally among themselves. This practice is abhorred by casinos and regular players alike. It costs the casinos nothing, but it denies ordinary gamblers the chance to play the progressives just when they are at their most promising.


Should you play progressive slots? Progressives, as a rule, are less generous than their regular counterparts. Because a significant portion of the house's profits is allotted to the top prize, the machine must tighten up on smaller prizes. Otherwise the casino would lose too much money. We don't recommend you play progressives unless you can sustain maximum coin play and endure losses for long periods. But if you have the money and time, give progressives a try. Who knows, you could be the next casino millionaire!