It’s easy to get confused when looking at this title, between progressive betting systems for blackjack and progressive blackjack. For the sake of simplicity, progressive betting when applied to blackjack is based on basic strategy and includes a variation of the bet amount based on the previous hand. Essentially a progressive bet would increase after a win and reduce after a loss. While all very interesting this article is going to explore instead progressive blackjack which is a variation of blackjack offered in many casinos where a player places a side bet along with their principle bet for a chance at a progressive jackpot.
What is a progressive jackpot?
This is usually the top payout for the winning combination with the lowest probability. Usually found in slot machines, but also found in video poker, Caribbean stud and it is becoming increasingly popular blackjack as well. What makes a progressive jackpot different from a regular jackpot are 2 main things. First, it is constantly growing. Each time a player makes a bet to win the jackpot their bet goes into the pot if they don’t win it. The second difference is that this jackpot isn’t only linked to one game, often it is linked to a number of games. For example 4 blackjack tables in the same casino will contribute to the jackpot. This means that a player at any one of those tables can also win the progressive.
How does it work in Blackjack?
In progressive blackjack the jackpot is an optional side bet which is additional and separate from the main bet. While playing your hand of blackjack and trying to beat the dealer, you are also betting on a hand of aces. The rules vary by establishment to establishment with some offering the progressive jackpot for 4 suited aces, others only require that the aces be the same colour. In a game using 8 decks the probability of being dealt 4 suited aces is miniscule at 0,00000023 and as you can guess you have a 4 times better chance of being dealt 4 aces of the same colour. Your chances of getting 4 aces unsuited shoots up by more than 7 times yet the probability still sits at around 0,000025.
Where can you play progressive Blackjack?
Progressive blackjack is not commonly available, although you may find it in some land based casinos and more often than not in online casinos since it is easier to monitor and the progressive jackpot can take contributions from far more tables and casinos allowing the pot to grow faster and bigger.
What are the odds and house edge for progressive Blackjack?
While the house edge remains the same for your principle bet as long as you are playing basic strategy, the house edge for a bet on the progressive pot is tremendously high at over 40% and reduces by roughly 2% for every $10k added to the point. The rate at which the house edge reduces is dependant on the reset amount of the jackpot. In other words, if the jackpot, once hit, is reset at $25k as opposed to $50k, for example, the house edge will reduce at a slower rate. This also means that the higher the progressive pot, the lower the house edge. The point at which there would be no house edge is called the breakeven point. While the probability of hitting the jackpot remains the same, the proposed return is what makes the bet worth making.
The breakeven point is based on the odds for the side bet and can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars.
When is the progressive side bet a good bet?
Generally side bets are bad bets simply because they have an exaggerated house edge; in this case the bet alone can play heavily into the casinos favour. To gain an advantage in progressive blackjack the player needs to be able to calculate the breakeven point and be playing when the jackpot sits above that point. On average the progressive is won long before the breakeven point is reached and a player can only profit from this in the long run, roughly translated into tens of thousands of hands.
To put it simply a progressive jackpot in blackjack is made available to give players the illusion of the possibilities of big payouts. With a bet as low as $1, there seems to be a lot more to gain than there is to lose. There are times when a player can profit from playing for a progressive pot, and as with any progressive game, you do need to be patient and continue to play hand after hand when the jackpot is at a volatile point.