So, UltimateBet offers a jackpot now. On jackpot tables (shown red in the client, and labeled as "jackpot") they take an extra 50¢ from the pot when it's raked to add to the jackpot, which currently stands at $61,000 and growing (up from $57,000 when I sat down this evening). Now, at upper limits (say, $5-$10, which has jackpot tables), an extra .50 from each pot seems negligable, but at .50-$1 and $1-$2, that's pretty steep.
It's a bad deal for the players, and I'll tell you why. One, most jackpots tend to take money out of circulation as effectively as a rake. If I were to win either share of the jackpot, the likelihood is that I'd take most of it out of my bankroll to do something like put down a down payment on a house, or buy a car, or expand my wardrobe, or travel. You probably wouldn't see me taking a shot at $30-$60 with it (well, most of it). Effectively, that money would be removed from the poker economy.
Now, the other reason that the jackpot is bad for the players is this: UB's jackpot kind of sucks. The breakdown is 25% to start the next jackpot, 10% to the house, 32.5% goes to the loser in the bad beat, 16.25% to the winner, and of the remaining 16.25%, $1000 goes to each of the other players dealt in that hand, and the rest to everyone playing on a jackpot table of that limit.
So, if I win a pot with the jackpot rake, of my .50, .05 is going to the house (technically, .0325 and .0125 from the main and backup, respectively. Hey, doesn't UB get enough rake as it is?), .125 is going to the backup jackpot, and only .325 is coming back to the players directly.
Now, I know that it's common practice in offline rooms to charge a "jackpot administration fee," to their jackpots (One room I know of takes almost 50%!), but the fact that UltimateBet feels the need to charge this fee seems excessive; one of the joys of online poker is the lower rake, due to the lower overhead, and it seems to me that this jackpot fee is just another way to charge rake.
Oh, and the jackpot requirements? Quad eights cracked, with both hole cards playing in both hands, and at least 4 players on the table (although, it seems that with fewer than 4 players, the jackpot rake isn't taken, so at least that's fair). Most poker rooms' jackpot requirement is aces full of queens or better cracked. Some don't even require both hole cards to play!
OK, so my objections are (beyond generally not liking jackpots):
1) The jackpot drop is steep at the low limits.
2) The admin fee is excessive.
3) The requirements are too high.
1) Change the jackpot drop to an extra 2.5% of the pot, up to a max (say, $1). Have multiple jackpots running, one for each limit, and drop that extra rake into the appropriate limit's jackpot.
2) Stop charging the 10%, give it to the loser of the hand. If UB really needs the extra rake, they should just rake the low limit games up to $1.05, and the upper-limit ones to $3.05. They already get to hold our money in their account (which, I'd be willing to wager, is interest-bearing), and the jackpot gets held there too (so there's at least $50k that's impossible to cash out sitting there at all times); take the interest, and give us the fee.
3) Start with high requirements, but as the jackpots get bigger, lower the requirements. For example, if the jackpot is under $10k, require a straight flush to be cracked, while between $10,001 and $15k, allow for quad aces to be cracked, and for every $5k in the jackpot, move the requirement down one notch (up to $20k, allow for kings, $25k allows for queens, etc), down to a "bare minimum" of aces-full being beaten, which would be at $75,001 and above. This would seriously increase interest in the jackpot tables as the jackpots get bigger. Note that this is an example; I'd have to work out the math to figure out where the transitions should be (hey, a project for next time I travel...). Alternately, make it a "must go" jackpot, where the best losing hand for each time period (hour?) gets the jackpot money accumulated that hour -- sort of like the high hand bonus that UB ran when they first opened up, although in that case, UB just put the money up themselves, and saved the players the trouble of double-raking us.