Jacks or Better
Detailed Guide on Jacks or Better Poker Game Strategies, how to play, and rules
Play Jacks or Better
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 slot games, skill is required to play Jacks or Better video poker.
Guide on Jacks or Better Game
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. Let’s go.
What Is Jacks or Better?
There are several variations of video poker with Jacks or Better being one of them. It could be the most common video poker or among the top five highly-sought video poker 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. 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 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 guide are constant whether you are playing Jacks or Better by one developer or the other.
Understanding Hands In Jacks or Better Video Poker
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
- Full 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.
How to Play Jacks or Better
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, full 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
- 2 suited high cards
- 3 to a straight flush
- 2 unsuited high cards (if more than 2 then pick the lowest 2)
- Suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K
- One high card
- Discard everything
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.
From 2 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.
Suppose you get 5 of diamonds, 5 of spades, 5 of hearts, 2 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.
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 full house. Instead, you can hold the jack and the queen, corresponding to number 13 on the list above.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Payout in Jacks or Better
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|
|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|
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 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. You can choose to guarantee payoff, which is two jacks, instead of risking getting a better hand. If you have a jack or 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.
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.
|3||4 of a kind|
|4||Four cards to a royal flush|
|7||3 of a kind|
|9||4 to a straight flush with a queen high|
|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|
|35||10 J suited|
|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 Full House, Flush or Straight
Keep the hand when you get a straight, a flush, or a full house from the initial dealing. 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.
- 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 full 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 Jacks or Better review. 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 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jacks or Better Video Poker Reviews
It’s kind of strange to come across a game where you are winning. Usually, the house always wins but not in this game. It makes it entertaining and encourages me to log in regularly to continue playing. I also love that there is a free demo that I can play with virtual coins whenever I don’t have funds in my casino account.
Jacks or Better is a pretty easy game to learn and play compared to a classic video poker I played earlier. There is a tutorial that is easy to follow and master. I took the skills I acquired during the tutorial to play for real money, and I loved every bit of it.
Kudos to the developer of Jacks or Better. It is the best game I have played in a while. It is fun to play and relaxing, especially when you let the background soundtrack play along. Besides the core game, there is a lot to look forward to when you load this game.
This game is addictive. The gameplay, graphics and sounds are great. I can’t believe I’m spending so much time playing video poker. In fact, I don’t spend too long playing a casino game until I tried Jacks or Better. My brother Zac encourages me to play it, claiming I will take the skills to another poker game.
I have finally found a video poker game that is enjoyable to play. From the tutorial to playing for real money, Jacks or Better is the real deal. I started by playing the game in a demo, and I didn’t realize time had passed before my mom called me for dinner.