Strategy for Jacks or Better Video Poker

Cards, Poker, Machine, Video Poker

Video poker is one of the oldest games involving electronic gambling devices, and a popular variation is Jacks or Better. The game is easy to learn, fun to play, and offers you a high RTP percentage (Return to Player) of around 99.5%.

To reach that number, though, you have to play with the optimal Jacks or Better strategy. In this article, I’ll discuss the card combinations and some of the basic rules of the game. The goal is to help you make better decisions and increase your chances of winning.

How Is Jacks or Better Video Poker Played?

The rules of Jacks or Better are similar to five-card stud but the main difference is that you play against the house. You can’t raise the stakes or bluff against other players. You make a single bet at the beginning and the objective is to construct the best possible hand.

You are dealt five initial cards and you get to decide which ones you want to keep and discard. The final replacement cards that you’re dealt will determine whether your hand will win or lose. The concept is pretty simple, but the game is extremely fun and exciting nonetheless.

When devising your Jacks or Better poker strategy, you should remember that casinos make it difficult to win in the long run.

Jacks or Better Paytable

The paytable indicates what the payouts are worth for every winning hand in Jacks or Better. It also shows which hands will bring you a profit in the first place.

Like the name suggests, Jacks are crucial in this version of video poker. A pair of them is the weakest winning hand, while a Royal Flush is the best. The payouts can vary slightly in the different online casinos.

You should search for the paytables that offer the highest possible return to improve your chances. I’d say this is the first step, even before you learn how to play Jacks or Better.

General Tips of Jacks or Better

I also want to offer you a few basic tips and tricks for your Jacks or Better video poker strategy. It’s all about knowing which cards to discard and which ones to keep. Here are some examples:

  • Draw four cards if you have only one high card
  • Draw three cards if you have any pairs
  • Draw two cards if you have three of a kind or three cards to a straight flush

It’s important to recognize what kind of hand you have and know the ways in which you can optimize it. You should also consider consulting a strategy chart and begin preparing for every scenario.

Having ample experience playing the game is also incredibly helpful for improving your Jacks or Better strategy. However, the best way to win is to also familiarize yourself with the hands and how they’re ranked in poker.

  • Royal Flush – An Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 that are all the same suit
  • Straight Flush – Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit
  • Four of a Kind – All four cards of the same rank
  • Full House – Three of a kind with a pair
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence
  • Straight – Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same number/rank
  • Two pairs – Two different pairs of cards with the same numbers/ranks
  • Single Pair – Two cards of the same number/rank
  • High Card – When you haven’t made any of the hands above, the highest card plays

The stronger your combination, the better the returns. A high pair, Jacks or Better, will bring you small profits, while hitting a Royal Flush is very rewarding.

Of course, the probability of winning big is much lower. That’s why you should aim at realistic goals based on your initial hand. The risk-reward ratio is the key to success when working on a strategy for Jacks or Better video poker.

Low Pairs vs. High Pairs

It’s a conundrum that many players face when playing Jacks or Better – when is it best to hold onto low pairs or high pairs?

You should keep both in most situations. High pairs are a no-brainer because anything above tens is an automatic win even if you don’t improve your hand. You should keep them even ahead of potential flushes and straights.

However, if you are only one card shy of a straight flush or a royal flush, you should break the pair to take a stab at the higher payouts.

Similar rules apply to lower pairs, but you can afford to be more adventurous with them because anything below Jacks doesn’t win unless it improves.

Knowing your Chances of Winning

Ultimately, Jacks or Better is a game where you can take the best possible actions in any given scenario to increase your chances of winning. However, you must understand that you can’t win every game – it’s simply impossible and likely won’t happen.

The game revolves around probabilities and your goal is to engineer an outcome in your favor, which isn’t always possible.

Where to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker Online?

Jacks or Better is among the most popular casino games when it comes to online video poker. You can find it in many places on the web, but I advise you to try our top video poker casinos online if you want to play Jacks or Better with real money.

They have many perks like cool bonuses and promotions, fast payments, a smooth mobile version, and more.

Petko Stoyanov
Get in touch with Petko
About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.