December 20, 2022 by

Slots Play Casinos Tips for Best Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better video poker is the most common online video poker game. It is largely based on five-card draw poker. Video poker has long been a popular online casino game. at land-based casinos, even the big casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, because of the restrictions in space, video poker is less popular than slots, blackjack, roulette, and craps.

Why is this Video Poker Game Called Jacks or Better?

Gamers play only against the pay table, not against the dealer and not against other players. The lowest hand a player can win money with is at least a pair of Jacks, hence the game’s name.

Most video poker variations are based on the basic rules for Jacks or Better. One rule that we must introduce at the beginning is that in order to qualify for the extra payout for a Royal Flush, the gamer has to bet the maximum on the hand.

How Important is the Extra Payout for a Royal Flush?

In the sense that a Royal Flush comes about once in every 40,000 hands, this rule is somewhat insignificant. But in the sense that it teaches gamers how to employ better strategy in video poker, this idea is very important.

Gamers Learn to Recognize and Evaluate Poker Hands Quickly

Recognizing the present and potential value of a poker hand allows players to become better poker players. In a way, playing video poker for serious poker players is similar to musicians practicing scales every day.

Five Card Draw in Video Poker Has Rules that Benefit Players


One aspect of game play in video poker at online casinos in contrast to five card draw poker played with friends is that online video poker allows gamers to exchange all five of their dealt cards. In a game with friends, the general rule is to exchange up to three cards or four cards if the player shows an ace.

The extra flexibility in online video poker changes the strategy in some ways.

Straights, Flushes, and Better are Somewhat Rare in Video Poker

These hands are not entirely rare but they are a lot less common in five card draw poker, which is the game most video poker games are based on. In games with seven cards such as Texas Hold’em and seven card stud, straights, flushes, and a full house are much more common.

Those two extra cards are a kind of bonus that increases the likelihood of a high hand and concomitantly reduces the value of a single pair or even of two pair.

As a quick reminder, a straight is five sequential cards of different suits while a flush is five cards of the same suit. A straight flush is very rare and is five sequential cards of the same suit!

The House Enjoys a Small Edge in Video Poker

Assuming that the player uses the best strategy on every hand, the hose edge is about 0.5%. That means that players can play for, say, an hour and, at the end of the day, they will either be a little ahead or a little behind.

The key to using the best strategy in Jacks or Better is to recognize that some hands are better in their potential than in their present or apparent value.

What Does that Mean?

Let’s say that you hold a winning high pair and you also have four cards to a very high paying hand such as a Royal Flush or a straight flush. In this situation, holding the four cards to the higher paying hand is better than holding the winning pair.

Why is that So?

The reason is that the potential value of the hand is a lot greater than the present value of the hand. Even if you don’t fill the higher-paying hand, you could get another winning pair, a straight, or a flush!

So, in situations like this, it is better strategy to give up a winning hand in pursuit of a better hand.

Video Poker Players Have to be Vigilant about the Pay Table

If the house pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush, we say that it is offering full pay Jacks or Better. It is still normative for online casinos to offer 9-6 Jacks or Better which is one of the many reasons we suggest to our readers to play Jacks or better at online casinos.

In order to increase profits, which considerably reduces the return to player rate in Jacks or Better, many land-based casinos now offer 8-5 Jacks or Better.

Should a Player Play Multi-hand Video Poker?

There are two key elements here. First, does the player know the best Jacks or Better video poker strategy. Only if you are extremely solid in strategy for video poker should you venture into multi-hand video poker.

The second thing to consider is your bankroll. Simply put, can you afford to make the maximum bet on many hands for one deal?

If your answer is YES to both aspects, then multi-hand video poker can be the most exciting video poker game variation for you!

Can We Review the Basic Strategy for Jacks or Better Video Poker?

Yes, we shall try to give you a short yet complete review.

  1. The hierarchy of hands is important. Gamers should generally try to complete a high hand.
  2. A single pair, even two kings, queens, or jacks, is often not the best hand to hold on the draw.
  3. A low pair, meaning a pair that does not win on its own, is usually not valuable enough to keep on the draw.
  4. Four cards to a high hand are much, much stronger than three cards to a high hand.
  5. Always bet the maximum in video poker.
  6. Always play 9-6 video poker. If you are at a land-based casino that pays 8-5 video poker, do not play the game! The house edge is simply too great and you will end up disappointed! In fact, a land-based casino that offers only 8-5 video poker probably also offers only 6-5 blackjack which also increases the house edge dramatically!

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Laurie Renfield has been part of the casino scene for both print and virtual media outlets for over two decades. Renfield's research focuses on both land-based casino entertainment and online casino gambling. She is dedicated to making sure that, regardless of where a player decides to compete, they'll achieve the best gambling experience and the most satisfying rewards.

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