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Break-Points Made Painless

by Frank Kneeland

Frank Kneeland was the manager of the largest progressive video poker team in Las Vegas, and has authored a book about his adventures entitled, "The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives". You can get the book as well as some extra info about Kneeland on his website In Las Vegas you can listen to his weekly radio show "Gambling with an Edge" (Bob Dancer co-hosts) at 7PM Thursday nights on KLAV Talk-Radio 1230am.

For more info go to:

"Without knowing what you don't know,

you'd have no way to know you didn't know it. ~FK

I was sitting at a progressive machine once and had the amusing pleasure of watching a player pull out a stack of twenty strategies that she had printed for a single game. She had generated a different strategy for each $100 of meter progression between $10,000 and the $12,000 that she expected might occur during her play. She dutifully put away her current strategy and pulled out a new one each time the meter passed a $100 benchmark. As soon as it passed $12,000, she went home to create and print more strategies, since the meter had strayed off the current map. Perhaps she was concerned about running into one of those areas where cartographers write, "there be monsters here." I did not see her again because the royal flush (RF) was hit about 30-minutes later and I left. This is an inefficient way of doing things; there is no need to create multiple strategies starting at the point where one would start playing a progressive and itís impossible to calculate potential highest water mark.

One can make a basic strategy and detail a list of break-points (the required meter amount where the EV differential causes one to alter strategy from basic strategy), which keeps things simple, and saves a few trees as a bonus. Many people use the basic/break-points system for creating progressive strategies, but they use a very inefficient system to generate the break-points. I have seen people plug in half a dozen different amounts for the RF until the draw they are comparing changes, and then record that as their break-point (BP). Though better than the system in the first paragraph (at kraken dodging), this is still time consuming and pointless because a much easier method exists: A mathematical formula.

Break points can come into play in two basic situations. One is when comparing a draw to the Royal against something with a static value, such as Two Pair. The other is when one is comparing two competitive holds and both are influenced by the rising meter, such as holding a single Ace over KTs in Double Bonus Poker. Here are both methods.

Calculating a Break-Point (RF vs. Static)

The example hand we'll use is JT8s vs. JTs. The game will be 7/5 JoB (one of the games available on the new progressive machines at M casino). With the Royal at 10,000 coins, it is correct to hold the three-card SF draw. Intuitively, we know that when the RF gets "high enough," this changes. Here's the easy way to figure out what's "high enough".

I used...

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