Progressive blackjack is a form of twenty-one with a side bet involving a progressive jackpot. Everyone knows blackjack has great odds for gamblers, but card players sometimes complain that blackjack is a grinding style of gambling, because the payouts are 1-to-1 or 3-to-2, at best.
Progressive jackpots aren’t just limited to progressive slots games, though. The progressive jackpot has been adapted to most forms of casino gambling, after the designers of slot machines and video poker machines learned how popular they could be with the mass of gaming machine players. The idea of winning a lottery-sized jackpot is a major allure to many gamblers, because the windfall can change their economic situation in an instant. So it was only a matter of time before someone tried to combine blackjack with an accumulated pot.
Where to Play Online
These days, many land-based casinos offer progressive blackjack. Almost all of the major online casinos offer the game, especially if you’re playing with one of the brand name casino software companies, such as Microgaming, IGT, Net Ent, CryptoLogic, or Playtech. If you’re an American real money gambler looking for the game online, your options are more limited.
For instance, Realtime Gaming, which powers the most US-friendly websites, doesn’t offer progressive blackjack. If you want an accumulated jackpot combined with a card game at an RTG casino, you’ll need to play Let Em Ride (not “Let It Ride”), Caribbean Stud, Caribbean Holdem, or Caribbean Poker. Gaming networks like Rival Gaming, Merge Network, and TopGame Technology are competitors whose products you might continue to check out.
The main bet in this game looks just like classic blackjack. Natural blackjacks pay at 3:2, while all other winning hands pay out at 1:1. You’ll find a variety of rules variations, but as an example, I’ll use the “Triple Seven Blackjack” rules used by Microgaming (“Triple-7” being their version of progressive 21).
The rules used are the same as used in Microgaming’s multi-hand blackjack, which means it uses 5 decks and has 5 betting positions. Players are allowed to draw to split aces, but neither surrendering nor re-splitting is allowed. A player cannot double after splitting. Gamblers can double on a 9, 10, or 11 only. The full “no peek” rules are in effect, so you’ll lose your whole bet when a dealer blackjack occurs. The dealer stands when holding a soft 17, while insurance won’t be resolved until the end of the hand.
Using these rules, the house edge on the main bet is 0.57%. It goes without saying that the multi-hand option is not enabled in Progressive Blackjack, so you’ll only be able to play a single hand at a time. The only other variation in the rules is the stipulation that you must make a $1 wager on the side bet, which is what gives this game its unique character.
Progressive Side Bet
In the standard form of progressive blackjack, the side bet involves a wager of $1 in addition to your main wager. The pay table is based on receiving at least an ace or better. One ace pays out $3, while other payouts include a pair of non-suited aces, a pair of suited aces, 3 non-suited aces, 3 suited aces, 4 aces, and 4 aces of the same color. Therefore, if you receive 4 black aces or 4 red aces, you win the progressive jackpot prize. In many places, the jackpot starts at $25,000 or $30,000.
Players should be warned that they house edge on this game tends to be outrageous. In the pay schedule mentioned above, the pot would need to be over $200,000 for it to be an even-money wager. The jackpot won’t rise to that amount most of the time. In the lower ranges, the house edge sits at over 40%, which is about the house edge on buying a lottery ticket.
Combined House Edge
At the same time, the $1 expenditure is only a small part of the overall house edge when you combine the main bet with the side bet. In that context, you receive the usual 0.50% house edge of blackjack along with a chance at a jackpot which pays out five or six figures. That makes progressive blackjack a favorite game for many gamblers, who might not like the grinding style of low-dollar blackjack.
As an example, if you wager $10 a hand on blackjack and only $1 on the side bet, a house edge of 40% is more manageable–in the 3% to 4% range. If the jackpot has reached $75,000 or more, then your expected return gets into the respectable range. If you want to know what the expected return on the side bet is at any given time, start with a 47% (if the starting place is $25,000) and add an additional 2.6% for every $10,000 the pot has grown. This should give you a rough estimate of where you stand.
It’s been stated that the average jackpot on progressive blackjack sits between $124,000 and $125,000. Those interested in knowing should note that roughly 28% of your side bet goes into building the jackpot, but your bet contributes not just to the current side bet, but the next one, too.
This game has nothing to do with the progressive betting systems advocated by many online writers who discuss card playing. Progressive betting methods like the Martingale, D’alembert, Labouchere, Fibonacci, and Paroli systems. These systems suggest you vary your bets according to past results, hoping to beat the house edge through clever mathematics.
What these methods tend to do is provide a lot of small wins in the short term, while assuring that luck catches up to you in one really bad losing session. In the end, the house edge is the house edge, so progressive bets do not beat the casino. Whatever the case, while many articles you’ll find searching for “progressive blackjack” will discuss these concepts, don’t be fooled by their logical-sounding arguments, because they’re a waste of time.