Jacks or Better Video Poker
Jacks or Better is a popular video poker game found at online casinos. The game is similar to seven-card stud, setting the standard from which most other video poker titles have emerged. The first game that comes to mind when video poker is mentioned, is usually Jacks or Better.
This OUSC guide will introduce you to all things Jacks or Better, including basic rules, strategy, and paytables. You can also find recommendations for top online casinos to play for real money.
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Jacks or Better Casino Hands
Jacks or Better video poker relies on the standard hand hierarchy used in basic poker. You’ll need to make at least one pair, with that pair representing jacks or better, to earn a payout. For players unfamiliar with poker hand rankings, see the chart below for a complete list of video poker hands in descending order of strength.
How to Play Jacks or Better
If you want to play Jacks or Better online, check out this quick and straightforward step-by-step guide to get started.
Make Your WagerIf you are at a land-based casino, add credits to the machine. If you’re playing online, make a deposit, place the amount you want to wager on the game. Land-based and online casino wagers can run from $0.05 to $5.00 and beyond in high-stakes games.
Choose Your CardsYou will be dealt five cards. You will select which you want to keep and which you want to discard to draw new cards.
New Cards Are DealtOnce you have discarded the cards from the step above new cards will be dealt. The goal is to hold on to the best cards. Your final hand decides whether you win or lose.
Select the Cards to HoldWith your final five-card hand now completed, the game will distribute payouts. You will win more if you have a better set of hands. If you are unfamiliar with the best poker hands make sure to check out the best video poker hands.
Jacks or Better Video Poker Paytable
It’s essential to learn about the various paytables in Jacks or Better video poker games at the best online casinos. First, we’ll discuss the most profitable paytable in the industry, which is known as a “9 / 6” or “full pay” game.
Take a look at the paytable below to determine the payouts for each of the hand rankings listed above:
|Full Pay 9 / 6|
|1 Coin||2 Coins||3 Coins||4 Coins||5 Coins|
|Four of a Kind||25||50||75||100||125|
|Three of a Kind||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or Better||1||2||3||4||5|
Winning Hand Payouts
The payouts in video poker align as multiples across the paytable. So even by betting the maximum of $5, making a straight is still good for a 4 to 1 payout. Things get more interesting when we reach the stronger hands, as the payout jumps to:
- 6 credits for a flush
- 9 credits for a full house
- 25 credits for four of a kind
- 50 credits for a straight flush
The odds against making these stronger hands are more extended, of course, which is why the payouts jump so significantly as we climb the paytable. Finally, the crown jewel in Jacks or Better casinos, the royal flush, returns a payout of 250 credits at the minimum coin denomination level.
The royal flush payout increases incrementally, just like the other hands, across the paytable until you reach the maximum wager. As you can see, the max bet payout for a royal flush should be 1,250 credits according to the established pattern of incremental increases, but instead, it goes up to a whopping 4,000 credits.
Max Bet Offers Greater Reward
Seeing as how the odds against drawing to a royal flush are always the same (40,390 to 1), the fact that the max bet payout for this hand is so much higher than it “should” be, makes betting big the optimal play in Jacks or Better casinos at all times.
Another reason to bet the maximum amount in Jacks or Better is illustrated by the bottom row of the 9 / 6 paytable, which lists the expected return percentage. This percentage is contingent on playing the game according to optimal video poker strategy.
House Edge 101
For players accustomed to the house edge construct, all you need to do to understand the numbers above is subtract the expected return percentage from 100 to arrive at the house edge.
So for non-maximum wagers in Jacks or Better casinos, the house edge stands at 1.63% (100 – 98.37 = 1.63), which is still quite favorable compared to chance-based casino games like roulette and keno.
On the other hand, the house edge against you drops to 0.46% (100 – 99.54 = 0.46) when betting the maximum, clearly making this the most profitable play over the long run.
Alternate Paytables to Consider
The two hands and corresponding payouts to pay attention to in Jacks or Better are the full house and the flush, which payout 9 and 6 credits respectively to give the 9 / 6 full table its name.
Some Jacks or Better machines only pay out 5 credits for a flush and maintain the 9 credit payout for full houses, while others pay 8 credits for a full house and preserve the 6 credit payout for flushes.
Below you can find the most commonly used alternative paytables in Jacks or Better online casinos. The # / # heading at the top of each column represents the payouts for a full house and a flush, and payout information is based on a maximum coin denomination wager.
|Alternate Pay Table|
|9 / 5||8 / 6||8 / 5||7 / 5||6 / 5|
|Four of a Kind||25||25||25||25||25|
|Three of a Kind||3||3||3||3||3|
|Jacks or Better||1||1||1||1||1|
Which Paytable Should You Look For?
The most productive strategic consideration of all is to play 9 / 6 full pay machines only. By limiting your activities to the most favorable machines on the menu, you’ll instantly pad your expected return before ever playing a hand.
Players who don’t take the time to check a machine’s paytable lose more money over time than their savvier counterparts. If you can’t find a 9 / 6 Jacks or better casino, play 9 / 5 machines before the 8 / 6 variety, and avoid all other paytables without exception.
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Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy
Like other skill-based online casino games which require players to make decisions, video poker can be broken down mathematically to arrive at the optimal play. Most of the decisions you’ll face in Jacks or Better are straightforward.
When you’re dealt a pat five-card hand – that is, a hand which is already made and will result in a payout – you’ll almost always be holding onto those cards and collecting the sure profit. On the other hand, when you have low, unconnected cards in front of you, drawing a new five-card hand is only natural.
Making the Right Decisions
Consider the classic video poker conundrum the following deal poses: Ad 9d 6d 3d 6c.
You hold two possibilities now, with a small pair of 6s already made, along with four out of the five diamonds you need to form a flush.
- Some players hold onto the small pair in this spot, discarding the other three cards and hoping to land a third 6 for three of a kind.
- Others will always hold the four-flush and draw a single card, looking to spike the fifth diamond and make their flush.
Mathematical analysis has demonstrated that the most profitable play in this scenario is to draw for the flush. Knowing how to navigate these close edges successfully in Jacks or Better casinos is what separates the losing and break-even players from those who are capable of consistently generating profits.
Player Optimal Decision Table
The chart below can be used as a handy guide to help players determine the optimal play when faced with a tough decision that involves two or more possible hands or draws.
To read the chart, players first assess the hands they hold given the five-card combination on the screen. From there, you’ll always want to select the option which is listed highest on the chart.
|RANK||PRE-DRAW HANDS||OPTIMAL DECISION|
|1.||Four of a Kind, Straight Flush, Royal Flush||Hold pat hand|
|2.||Four cards to a Royal Flush||Draw one card|
|3.||Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House||Hold pat hand|
|4.||Four cards to a Straight Flush||Draw one card|
|5.||Two Pair||Draw one card|
|6.||One high Pair (Jacks or Better)||Draw three cards|
|7.||Three cards to a Royal Flush||Draw two cards|
|8.||Four cards to a Flush||Draw one card|
|9.||One low Pair (Tens or lower)||Draw three cards|
|10.||Four cards to open-ended Straight||Draw one card|
|11.||Two suited high cards (Jacks or Better)||Draw three cards|
|12.||Three cards to a Straight Flush||Draw two cards|
|13.||Two unsuited high cards*||Draw three cards|
|*With three unsuited high cards, hold lowest two.|
|14.||Suited J 10, Q 10, or K 10||Draw three cards|
|15.||One high card||Draw four cards|
|16.||Five unconnected low cards||Draw five cards|
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Use Our Jacks or Better Guide to Play Online Today!
Now that you know how to play Jacks or Better video poker, you are ready to put your skills to the test at our recommended casino sites. Remember that the best strategy is to play 9 / 6 full pay games only. Also, betting big is the optimal play in Jacks or Better at all times.
Visit Las Atlantis Casino today or another of our suggested casino sites to play this game, and who knows, you might just hit the royal flush and take home a nice cash prize!
FAQ – Video Poker Jacks or Better
Below you will find some of the most common questions about playing Jacks or Better at online casinos.
How do you play Jacks or Better video poker?
To play Jacks or Better, you first have to sign up and deposit at a real money online casino. Find the game and select how many coins you want to play. Choose the amount to bet for each coin you want to play and click on the Deal button. Select the cards you want to hold for that hand. With your final five-card hand, the game will distribute payouts.
How do you win at video poker Jacks or Better?
You can win at Jacks or Better by getting a winning poker hand. When playing one hand, you can double your win in a Double or Nothing Bonus Round. In the Double or Nothing Bonus Round, select a higher card than the dealer’s card to win.
Where can you play Jacks or Better online?
You can play Jacks or Better at our recommended online casinos. Always make sure to sign up and deposit at safe and reputable casino sites.