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Jacks or Better Guide

Jacks or Better Guide

Everything You Need To Know with this Jacks or Better Guide

If you have played the traditional poker game and a slot machine, video poker is for you as it is a combination of the two. Unlike slots online, skill is required to play Jacks or Better video poker. Following a Jacks or Better Guide can help you understand the game more effectively.

The game is not hard to learn to play. Once you understand the rules and some strategies, it becomes interesting to play. The house advantage is also low, increasing your odds to win compared to other casino games.

If you are new to this, worry not. We will cover everything about Jacks or Better, including how to play, rules, strategies, and several other details by following a Jacks or Better Guide. Let’s go.

What Is Jacks or Better?

There are several variations of video poker, with Jacks or Better being one of them while following a Jacks or Better Guide. It could be the most common video poker or among the top five highly-sought video poker casino games.

Jacks or Better is a popular game, especially in Las Vegas casinos. There are also several game developers that have designed the game to be played in online casinos.

As the name suggests, players get paid if their hands possess a pair of Jacks or Better card combinations when using a Jacks or Better Guide. The game closely resembles the Draw Poker game, and some might confuse it one for the other. Before we go on, let’s look at how the game came forth.

The Beginning of Video Poker

In the late 19th century, Sittman & Pit created a drum mechanism where players would pull a lever to make a card combination. By the early 20th century, Sittman’s creation was modified, and a hold feature was added.

This new feature allowed players to freeze specific cards, which would be helpful in the next spin. This feature acted like Sticky Wilds in the slot machines we know today. In the 1970s, the video poker machine was born, leading to casinos offering the game by the 1980s.

Jacks or Better is assumed to be the first-ever video poker. Other free online video poker variations are said to take some aspects from Jacks or Better.

The popularity of the game is widespread. It led to the creation of progressive jackpots. So, several games in different casinos and bars would be linked to a progressive jackpot, with the price rising to over $2500.

Following the creation of Jacks or Better, other variations were created. These include Double Bonus, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker. But Jacks or Better has continued to be the most popular of them all.

There are several reasons why the game has remained popular. The first is it has a relatively low house edge. It has low volatility and has a return of over 99.5 percent.

Today, developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, iSoftBet, and Playtech have created their Jacks or Better video poker versions. Some of these developers have added several features, while others have maintained the game’s original look. Still, the strategies and gameplay shared in this Jacks or Better Guide are constant whether you are playing Jacks or Better by one developer or the other.

Understanding Hands

Understanding how hands rank is the first step to having a good time playing Jacks or Better. If you are playing online, you might not need this information since the results are displayed on the screen, and you can learn what each means. But, we insist that this section is crucial.

  • High card: in this game, high cards refer to cards above Jacks in value. They include Queens, Kings, and Aces.
  • One pair: two cards of the same ranking.
  • Two pair: this is when you have a hand with two sets of different ranks. For example, two 2s and two Qs.
  • Three of a kind: a hand with three cards from the same rank.
  • Straight: five sequential cards regardless of suits
  • Flush: any five same suited cards
  • house: three of a kind and a pair
  • Four of a kind: four cards from the same rank
  • Straight flush: five sequential same suited cards
  • Royal flush: suited Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10.
  • Four to a Straight Flush: you have four cards of five required to complete a straight flush.
  • Three to a Royal Flush: you have three cards required to create a royal flush.
  • Four to a Flush: a hand with four cards wearing a similar suit.
  • Four to a Straight: a hand with four sequential cards in different suits.
  • Three to a Straight Flush: a hand with three sequential cards of the same suit and can get a straight flush.
  • Two to a Royal Flush: Two cards to get a Royal Flush.
  • Outside straight: this is an open-ended straight that can be completed from either side. For example, 7, 8, 9, and 10. This hand can be completed by either getting a 6 or J.
  • Inside straight: is a hand missing an inside card. For example, a hand consisting of A, 2, 3, 4 or 6,7,8,9 or J, Q, K, A is considered inside straight.

Learning How to Play with Jacks or Better Guide

The core of the game is straightforward. You will start by making a bet. Then, click the deal button to get five cards.

This is where all fun begins. You need to look at your hand and decide which of the five cards to keep and which you want to discard.

Keep dealing and replacing cards until you get the best hand. The times you deal and discard cards depend on how many credits you bet. Thus, it is best to make the maximum bet, usually five coins.

Take a look at the below list then we go through several examples of how to play jacks or better.

  • 4 to a royal flush
  • Three of a kind, straight, flush, house
  • 4 to a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair
  • 3 to a royal flush
  • 4 to a flush
  • Low pair
  • 4 to an outside straight
  • suited high cards
  • 3 to a straight flush
  • unsuited high cards (if more than then pick the lowest )
  • Suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K
  • One high card
  • Discard everything

Example 1

You get 9 of clubs, 8 of clubs, 3 of diamonds, 5 of spades, queen of hearts. Here, you only have one high card, the queen. So, you can keep it and discard all others.

Example 2

From of clubs, 3 of diamonds, jack of spades, 6 of hearts, and 9 of clubs, you have one high card, Jack. So, you can discard the rest and remain with a jack hoping to get another jack to get a payout or create a better hand with a jack on it.

Example 3

Suppose you get 5 of diamonds, 5 of spades, 5 of hearts, of diamonds, and 7 of spades. Here you have a winning hand of three of a kind. Keep the three-of-a-kind cards and discard the others, hoping to get four of a kind.

Example 4

Suppose you have three high cards if you get ace of clubs, jack of diamonds, 8 of hearts, queen of spades, and 3 of clubs. But, holding all the three high cards would be unwise as it is impossible to get a house. Instead, you can hold the jack and the queen, corresponding to number 13 on the list above.

Example 5

Suppose you get king of hearts, king of diamonds, jack of clubs, queen of clubs, and 10 of clubs. Here you can create three different hands depending on how you want to play it. So, you can go for the three to a royal flush (10, J, Q), a high pair (K, K), or straight (10, J, Q, K)

Example 6

If you get 3 of clubs, 3 of diamonds, 7 of spades, queen of clubs, king of clubs, you can go with pair or the high card. It is always best to go with a pair corresponding to number 9 instead of going with two same-suited high cards.

Example 7

If you get 4 of clubs, 6 of clubs, 7 of clubs, 7 of hearts, and queen of clubs you can remain with four clubs cards and eliminate hearts. With this hand, it is possible to get a flush and not a straight hand. Remember, having a pair is better than having a would-be straight.

Example 8

If you get a 3 of hearts, 5 of spades, 6 of spades, 8 of diamonds, and 9 of spades it might seem like you don’t have a good hand. But, a deeper look at this hand will tell you you have a three to a straight flush, 5, 6, and 9. You can keep these three cards hoping to get 7 and 8 spades.

We cannot cover all the possibilities you can get. But, once we look at strategies, understanding the above examples will be easy.

Some Jack or Better games have extra features that allow you to bet an additional bet. This feature is active when you create a winning hand and get your wins. You can decide to withdraw the winnings or continue playing.

If you choose to continue playing, a new screen will pop on your device. On this screen, one face-up card and four face-down cards will pop up.

The goal of this extra game is to choose one of the four face-down cards whose value is better than the face-up card. If you guess correctly, your win is doubled or lose the winning when you guess wrong.


The payout rate varies depending on the game developer offering the specific Jacks or Better video game. But, the RTP ranges between 96 percent and 99.50 percent. Here is a payout table for Jacks or Better by iSoftBet.

Hands One coin Two coins Three coins four coins Five coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
house 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 4 6 8 10
Jacks or Better 1 3 4 5

The RTP may change depending on many coins you are playing with. For example, you can get 96 percent RTP when playing with one coin and 99 percent when playing with five coins.

How much you win depends on the quality of your hand. So, if you get two pairs, you will win less than when you have a flush, playing with the same number of coins.

The good thing is that you do not have to retain the cards you get when you deal for the first time. You can eliminate the worst and remain with ones you think will form a better hand once you replace the discarded cards.

Remember, the payout also changes depending on the number of coins you have active. It is always advisable to use all the coins. You can choose the value of each coin.

For example, you can decide each of your coin’s values is $10 in the first round of the game. This means you will be wagering $50. You will see the minimum and maximum coin value depending on where you are playing Jacks or Better.

Jacks or Better Guide Strategies

If you want to play video poker optimally, you need several strategies. Before we move to a deeper look at these strategies and Jacks or Better video poker tips, we will mention one thing. Whenever you play with less than the maximum coins, you increase the house edge to up to 10 percent.

Playing with fewer coins is fun. But if winning sounds better, play with all the coins. Here are other strategies:

I. Going For a Big Draw or Guaranteed Payoff

Suppose you have two jacks, a 10, queen, and king while following a Jacks or Better Guide. You can choose to guarantee payoff, which is two jacks, instead of risking getting a better hand. If you have a jack of hearts, a king of spades, queen, another jack, and a 10, you already have a four-card draw at a royal flush.

So, you can discard the jack of hearts and reach for a bigger payoff. You look forward to winning 4000 coins with a hand such as above by getting more cards to create a royal flush.

As the game progresses, it is possible to get a straight flush when 9 of spades is dealt, a flush if you get another flush card, or a straight if you get a 9 with a different suit other than a spade. Ideally, you have several payoffs if you choose to eliminate a high pair and have a one-card draw at a royal flush while using a Jacks or Better Guide.

If you have a low pair and a royal flush draw, discard the low pair and draw to a better hand. If you have three cards to a royal flush and a hair pair, remain with the three instead of the pair. Use the table below to create a better hand.

Rank Combination
1 Royal flush
2 Straight flush
3 4 of a kind
4 Four cards to a royal flush
5 house
6 Flush
7 3 of a kind
8 Straight
9 4 to a straight flush with a queen high
10 Two pair
11 4 to straight flush inside draw
12 High pair (jacks, queens, kings, or aces)
13 Three cards to a royal flush
14 Four cards to flush
15 10 J Q K
16 Low pair ( from two to tens)
17 9 10 J Q
18 8 9 10 J
19 9 J Q same-suited
20 9 10 J same-suited
21 Open-ended straight draw with the highest card being a 10
22 8 J Q same-suited
23 3 to a straight flush with the highest card being a ten)
24 9 Q K suited, 9 J K suited
25 9 10 Q, 8 10 J, 8 9 J suited
26 J Q suited
27 J Q K A
28 J K suited, Q K suited
29 J A, Q A, K A suited
30 4 to a straight inside (three high cards)
31 3 to a straight flush – two gaps and one high card
32 3 to a straight flush – one gap and no high card
33 JQK
34 JQ
35 10 J suited
36 JQ, JK
37 10 Q suited
38 JA, QA, KA
39 10 K suited
40 One high card – jack, queen, king, or ace
41 3 to straight flush two gaps and no high card
42 Five low cards, no straight or flush draw – redraw all five card

II. When You Have a High Pair

In Jacks or Better, a high pair includes JJ, QQ, KK, and AA. If you have a hand with any of the high pairs, breaking it would be unwise.

Why? If you have a high pair, you are guaranteed a payout. The only reason you can break this hand is if you have four cards to the royal flush.

Never break a high pair hand even when you have four cards to a flush to chase a flush. Similarly, do not break the pair if you have four cards for the straight.

III. When to Keep a House, Flush or Straight

Keep the hand when you get a straight, a flush, or a house from the initial dealing in an online casino. You can only break a straight or a flush hand when you have four cards to the royal flush draw.

It sounds risky, but if you are playing optimally, the risk is worth it. You can avoid this strategy if you are still new to the game. Try it once you feel confident and have gained several skills in the game.

IV. When You Have a Low Pair

A low pair is anything below Jacks. One mistake players make is keeping a pair of low cards and one high card. For example, if you get 4, 4, A, J, 5, keeping A, 4, 4, and eliminating the others is a mistake as it reduces your chances of winning.

Another mistake would be breaking a pair when you have four cards to a straight. So, if you have a hand such as the one shown above, you can keep the pair (4, 4) because you have a better long-term expectation of getting a better hand.

But, there are several reasons as to why you should break a low pair. This includes:

  • When you have four cards to the flush
  • When you have three cards to the royal flush
  • Without the above two, always keep your pair instead of trying to chase an unlikely draw.

In summary:

  • Eliminate the fifth card if you have four cards to a royal flush even if that card can give you a flush or a pair.
  • Keep your high pair over four to a flush or four to a straight
  • Do not break an already made straight or flush unless you only need one card to form a royal flush
  • Avoid breaking a house, two pair, four of a kind, or three of a kind
  • Retain a high pair unless you have four cards to a royal flush or four cards to a straight flush
  • Three to a royal flush is outranked by a high pair, a flush, three of a kind, and a straight.


We have come to the end of our Jacks or Better review and guide. If there is one reason you should learn how to play this game, it is you will find it offered in hundreds of land-based casinos and online casinos.

You can play online to master the winning strategies before going to play at a brick-and-mortar casino. Besides being a fun game, playing Jacks or Better online by following a Jacks or Better Guide is a good way to practice. Moreover, the game is available online 24/7 unlike in physical casinos.

Once you know how to play this game, it will be like taking the excitement from Las Vegas casino to your device. The payouts are high and it is easy to understand how to play the game.

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Jacks or Better Guide FAQs

What Is the Difference Between Jacks or Better Video Poker and Jacks or Better Draw Poker?

The first is where the lowest-paid hand is a pair of jacks. If you have a better hand, the payout is similarly improved. The second game requires one player or more to have a pair of jacks or a better hand for betting to begin. If none of the players has two jacks or their hand or a better hand, the cards are reshuffled and dealt again.

Where Can I Play Jacks or Better?

The game is available in all online casinos powered by developers such as iSoftBet, NetEnt, and others. You can search the game by typing in the name on the search tab provided by the casino and see who offers it at that casino.

Will I Get a Bonus to Play Jacks or Better?

Most casinos will give you a match-up bonus fund to play slots, table games, or live dealer games. It might be challenging to get a specific bonus for Jacks or Better.

Can I Play Jacks or Better Without Real Money?

Some casinos offer the game in demo play mode and real money.

Can I Win Jacks or Better Video Poker?

Yes, everyone that plays Jacks or Better has a chance to win. Implement the right strategies and follow the rules, and you might win.