Is It Worth the Risk?

I was playing a $1 9/6 Double Double Bonus game with multiple progressives. The royal was at $5,400 and aces with a kicker (AWAK) was slightly above $2,300. The other two active progressives, which reset at $800, had been hit in the previous half hour and had not yet risen much.

The numbers made the game about 100.1% which I would usually consider a waste of time, but it was by far the best game in the house. The slot club added 0.2%, the meter was rising at 1%, and I needed to play some to keep my mailers coming. Plus, sadly, at the moment I didn’t know of any better game around, so I played.

Assume the above is true. Now let’s look at two separate cases. Each of which involve being dealt A♠ A♥ A♣ A♦ 2♠:

Case 1: I’m the only one playing the progressive. The progressive is on 12 machines at one bar and I can see the other eleven are unoccupied. The AWAK meter is actually $2,301.99. If I play one more hand, the meter will kick over to $2,302.00. If I play two hands, the meter will reach $2,302.01 and when this casino pays you, it rounds UP to the nearest dollar, meaning I’d get $2,302 before I play two more hands and $2,303 if I wait.

Back to being dealt A♠ A♥ A♣ A♦ 2♠. What do I do? I certainly am going to hold all five cards, but what then? Do I go ahead and hit the draw button, or do I move over to an adjacent machine, play two hands to move the progressive up a dollar, and then play it off?

I would choose to do the latter. For a $10 investment that is essentially even money, I’m getting a $1 bonus. This is a no-brainer to me. Since nobody else is there, nobody else can claim the jackpot while I’m jacking it up.

Case 2: This time the progressive is at $2,301.95, but now there’s another guy at the bar. I’ll call him Al. Although these are multi-denomination, multi-game machines and from where I’m sitting I can’t see which game Al’s playing, I can tell by the way the meter is rising that he’s pounding the same game as I am.

Again, I’m dealt AWAK, but Al has no idea that I’ve just been dealt a great hand. My choice is to wait for him to play six hands, so I can collect an extra dollar, or to go ahead and collect the guaranteed smaller hand now.

The odds for Al hitting AWAK are approximately 14,235 to 1 on each hand. Playing six hands, it’s still a pretty slim chance, but definitely possible. I’m not risking $2,302 by waiting, but rather only $302 because AWAK resets to $2,000.

What would you do?

If you stop to think about this when it happens, then it will resolve itself. Al will play six or more hands, hit the jackpot or not, and then the situation is moot because then the meter will have crossed over one more dollar and it’s time to cash out.

All players who play games where progressives occur on the non-top jackpot (which lock up and don’t give you this choice), will face this circumstance now and then. You’re probably not going to be dealt AWAK today, but it happens three times as often as a dealt royal and most players who play a lot have had one or more of those.

When this last happened to me, with numbers very similar to what was shown in this article, I hit the draw button immediately. The extra $300 or so dollars for the jackpot made it rare enough that I decided to cash in. Had the jackpot been at $2,003.95, I most certainly would have waited. I’m only risking $4.

In addition, I might well place a napkin over my jackpot, move to the adjoining machine, and play for an hour or so before I collect on the AWAK. It will keep building and will rise by $8-$10 per hour per player, so it’s growing while it sits there.

(The $8-$10 per hour figure I used in the last paragraph is for the particular game I was playing. Meter rates vary, as do the percentage of the meter going to each jackpot.)

Plus, hitting a $2,300 AWAK jackpot reduces the ER of the game by about 0.37%. Once it’s hit, the play might be over. Hitting a $2,004 jackpot affects the ER of the game basically not at all.

Am I being unfair to Al by attempting to build up the jackpot for me only? I don’t think so. It’s a contest between players. While both of us are building jackpots for both of us, a dealt hand offers either player an extra opportunity to exploit, should he or she want to do that.

I said I would cash out a $300 bonus on the jackpot immediately and wait for a $4 bonus to build before I collected it. Presumably, there must be a point in the middle where I’m indifferent between cashing out now or waiting until later.

Probably. But I don’t have a specific number in my head. It’s situational and can easily depend on what other opportunities are available. If every seat were full, so I had 11 competitors, I would always cash out immediately.

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