pogo.com Video Poker page: New Jackpot Information



Yellow card frequency change

On the remainder of this page I report the changes that were made for winning the video poker jackpot. The day after I composed this page, pogo increased the frequency that yellow J-A-C-K-P-O-T letters appear on the spade royal flush cards so that the letters now appear MOST of the time. Of course, this changes the odds that I report in the table near the bottom of this page.

At this time (as of 9/22/00), the odds of winning the VP jackpot are only slightly less than they were prior to the VP jackpot change.


Around the middle of September, 2000, pogo changed the way that one wins the jackpot in their video poker game. Prior to the change, you won the jackpot by getting a Royal Flush in Spades and in order (10-J-Q-K-A) from left to right on the screen (like this:).


Old way to get VP jackpot

(Note: There are 120 different ways--orders--to get a royal flush in spades. If you want to see all 120 ways graphically demonstrated, see my 120 ways to get a Spades Royal Flush page.)

The change that was made was advertised as a "new way to get the Jackpot", and involves some cards having parts of the letters "J-A-C-K-P-O-T" on them, and combining the cards in order to spell the word jackpot (like this:).


New way to get VP jackpot

In other words (if I understand this correctly and I think I do), the sequence below does NOT win the jackpot, because the Ace does not have the final letter combination on it:


This will NOT win the VP jackpot

At first, I had thought: "Neat; now we have more than one way to win the video poker jackpot". But upon seeing the VP jackpot increase to a level I had never seen before, I played the game and then figured out that this instead dramatically decreases the frequency with which the jackpot will be won. (The bright side is that the jackpot will now regularly get HUGE.)

Odds of Hitting Jackpot prior to change

To understand this change better, we need to figure out how often the VP jackpot was won BEFORE the change, then try to guess approximately how often the jackpot will likely be won AFTER this change.

Prior to the change pogo implemented in mid-September 2000, the average video poker jackpot value was about $115.00 (to figure this out, I used the data pogo provides about this from the beginning of May through the middle of September 2000). If we remember that the jackpot amount starts at $50.00 and increases at a rate of $3.60 per hour (one penny every 10 seconds), then we can figure out that the VP jackpot was hit on average about once every 18 hours.

If we then assume that the average number of VP players online at any one time is, say, 5000, and they are each playing on average, say, 300 hands per hour, then we can see that the jackpot is won approximately every (5000 players times 300 hands x 18 hours equals 27 million hands). A single user could, on average, expect to win this jackpot approximately once every 10 years (playing 24 hours per day).

Odds of Hitting Jackpot after September, 2000 change

Now all we have to figure out is how the new jackpot system compares to the old system to try to guess how often the jackpot will now be won in the video poker game. To do this, we have to understand a few things:

  1. First, the "J-A-C-K-P-O-T" letters appear ONLY on the 10 through Ace of spades. The letters do not alternate between cards (in other words, the 10 always contains the letter "J" and the Ace always contains the letter "T").
  2. Second, we need to recognize that NOT EVERY 10 through Ace of spades contains letters.
  3. Finally, we need to calculate HOW OFTEN the letters do appear on the 10 through Ace of spades.

The only way to do step three above (without knowing how the original programming was done) is to simply play alot of hands, keep track of EVERY 10 through Ace of spades we see, and at the same time keep track of how often these cards DO contain the JACKPOT letters we're looking for.

I performed this data-keeping task recently. I had originally guessed that the yellow letters would appear on these cards about 50% of the time. However, the data I kept showed me that the frequency was much less than this. Preliminary results (based on only a few hundred hands) show first that these 5 cards do not all share the same odds of letters appearing on them. My current data shows the following in terms of how often the letters appear on these cards:

Card How often card
appears with
JACKPOT letters
Ten of spades About 1 in 3
Jack of spades About 1 in 5
Queen of spades About 1 in 5
King of spades About 1 in 5
Ace of spades About 1 in 4

From the table above, we can then calculate the odds of hitting the new video poker jackpot versus the old one simply by multiplying the odds together. For the current data set, we discover that under the new system, the jackpot will only be hit (3 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 4 == 1500) only 1 fifteen-hundredth as often as it did before the change. In other words, according to my current data set, instead of the jackpot being hit every 18 hours, it will now be hit once in an astounding 27,000 hours (even with 5000 players playing, this means once every 1125 days or once every 3 years). And now a single person is likely to hit the jackpot only once in every 15,000 years (yikes!).

Needless to say, the average jackpot will reach $5000.00 quite easily. I would be very surprised if the jackpot is won before the maximum jackpot amount is reached.

I will continue to keep statistics about the frequency of letters appearing on the spade royal flush cards; perhaps the frequency will change in the future.

In the meantime, I would propose to pogo that increasing the frequency of letters appearing on the spades royal flush cards to be at least 50% is in order. If the frequency of letters appearing on the spades royal flush cards is increased to 50%, this still reduces the frequency of the Jackpot being won by a factor of 32 (2 to the 5th power--so the jackpot would be won on average about every 24 days).

Why did pogo make this change?

I'm not a pogo employee, and I in no way speak for pogo.com, but I believe they made the change to the way the video poker jackpot is won for several reasons: