Jacks Or Better Video Poker: Basic Strategy & More

Jack or Better Video poker games are among the most popular single-player games in the casino. They provide just the right mix of random action like a slot machine, but they also give the player the chance to change the odds if they have some skill, too. Those who play better will win more. It’s not 100% random like the slots. Video poker is perfect for those who like classic poker and want the advantages of playing alone and playing fast.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips for getting the most out of one of the most popular video poker machines out there, Jacks or Better. You’ll find several different versions of this popular game both at online and land-based casinos.

Like call video poker games, Jacks or Better is based on classic five-card draw poker. You will be given five random cards from a 52 card deck to start. You’ll then be given the chance to hold or discard any of the cards you have and those that you discard will be replaced with new random cards from the deck to produce your final hand. As the name of this particular game suggests, you need to end up with a pair of jacks or better to win a prize.

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Finding The Right Jacks Or Better Video Poker Games

The first thing you have to do to get the most out of your play is scope out the right games. In live casinos or online, you’ll see that there are plenty of Jacks or Better games that have different pay tables. You’ll need to find the ones with the right pay tables to take advantage of the strategy we’re about to lay out for you.

When played correctly, you can either even out the house odds against you or even tip things in your own favour by taking advantage of things like VIP programs, jackpot drawings, and other comps offered for playing.

There are several different payout tables you can look for that will work well with the following strategy, but for the same of time, space, and making things easier to remember, we’re going to show you the three that work the best.

The 976-9-6 Table – 100% RTP Possibility

With this game, you can reach up to a 100% return to player rate if you play perfectly. What you’re looking for in the paytable are those three massive numbers—976 for the royal flush, 9 for the full house, and 6 for the flush. Once you start paying attention, you’ll see that many video poker machines have lower numbers in these positions. That means there’s a bigger house edge. This type of paytable will mostly be found in land-based casinos.

Royal flush 976

Straight flush 50

Four of a kind 25

Full house 9

Flush 6

Straight 4

Three of a Kind 3

Two pair 2

Jacks or better 1

The 90-9-6 Table – 99.9% RTP Possibility

With a perfect strategy played on this table, you can get up to 99.9% of your wagers back over time. Mix it it in with VIP casino programs and such and you’ll be able to actually get the casino to pay you to play. The magic numbers you are looking for on this paytable are the 90 on the straight flush, the 9 on the full house and the 6 on the flush. You’ll find this paytable on some NetEnt video poker games at online casinos.

Royal flush 800

Straight flush 90

Four of a kind 25

Full house 9

Flush 6

Straight 4

Three of a Kind 3

Two pair 2

Jacks or better 1

40-20-9-6-5 Table – 99.5% RTP Possibility

This is another paytable that can be found on some NetEnt games online. Just like the others, look for the five key numbers above in the prize listing. It should look like this:

Royal flush 800

Straight Flush 40

Four of a Kind 20

Full House 9

Flush 6

Straight 5

Three of a kind 3

Two pair 2

Pair 1

Playing The Jack Or Better Strategy Correctly

This overall strategy will give you an expected return (RTP) of about 99.5% on any of the three games above. Taking advantage of other casino perks will actually put you ahead. It’s possible to get slightly better returns, but all of the extra conditions you’ll need to remember really aren’t worth the payoff unless you’re just really into the math.

The payouts listed above will be shown in the first column of each game for playing one coin. In order to get the best returns and bonuses out of the game, you should play maximum coins on every hand. If you don’t, your return will be lower.

To use the strategy chart below, look through the possible hands that you may have with the five cards you receive on your initial deal. Find the highest hand that you can possibly make on the chart, keep the cards that make that hand and discard the others.

The Jacks Or Better Video Poker Basic Strategy

For the purposes of everything listed below, a “high card” is a jack, queen, king, or ace.

  1. Four of a kind, a straight flush, a royal flush
  2. 4 to a royal flush
  3. Three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house
  4. 4 to a straight flush
  5. Two pair
  6. High pair
  7. 3 to a royal flush
  8. 4 to a flush
  9. Low pair (a pair under jacks)
  10. 4 to an outside (open-ended) straight
  11. 2 suited high cards
  12. 3 to a straight flush
  13. 2 unsuited high cards (if more than 2 then pick the lowest 2)
  14. Suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K
  15. One high card
  16. No pair, no high card – Discard everything

Practice Makes Perfect

As you can see, the strategy isn’t really too complicated. It will just take some time to memorize and practice. There are plenty of online casino sites where you can play for free to practice, even if they don’t have the correct payouts.

Also, if you can’t find any sites that have the payouts you’re looking for, take a look through our casino lists and you’re sure to find a few that have the higher paying versions of video poker available for their players.