Jacks or Better Video Poker Rules

Unlike slot machine games, Jacks or Better lets you make your own game-play choices, Here's how...

A standard 52-card deck of playing cards is used.

The goal of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand. Payouts start at a pair of jacks or better (hence the name) and increase as you go further down the hand rankings (two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, etc.)

The player receives five cards initially and has to decide which to throw and which to keep, just like in the game draw poker.

Once the player has decided which cards he is throwing away, his discards are replaced with random cards from the deck.

The payouts for the final hand are determined by the pay table. A standard Jacks or Better full-pay game pays out as follows:

  • Royal flush: 4,000
  • Straight flush: 50
  • Four of a kind: 25
  • Full house: 9
  • Flush: 6
  • Straight: 4
  • Three of a kind: 3
  • Two pair: 2
  • High pair: 1



Jacks or Better Strategy

Jacks or better is a solved game. There exists for any five initial cards an optimal discard strategy. While a complete strategy is quite detailed, one can get pretty close to optimal following a few simple rules.

The first rule is pretty obvious if you have a hand like a high pair, two pair, three of a kind, or better you want to keep it. The only exception is if you were going for four to a royal flush. In that case, you would throw away a straight or a flush (which you could easily have), simply because the payout for a royal flush is so high. 

Don’t worry about trying to hit two perfect cards to a straight or a flush. Instead, prioritize high pairs or even low pairs. If you don’t have a pair, then go with some high cards if you have them. Or even one high card. On the other hand, if you have an open-ended straight draw or four to a flush, that is better than a low pair, but not a high pair.

Most discard decisions are fairly intuitive especially if you are used to playing poker. 

It is also important to always bet the max when playing video poker. This is because there is a higher payout for the royal flush when you make a max bet. 

Another important thing when playing Jacks or Better video poker is to try to find a “full pay” game. Jacks or Better 9/6 pays six credits for a flush and nine for a full house, but make sure the rest of the paytable matches up also. Other versions pay less and hence have a lower RTP. Full-pay Jacks or Better has an RTP of 99.56%, making it one of the best bets in the casino.

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