Jacks or Better video poker

Jacks or Better is the most common variety of online video poker, and the one upon which most other variants are based. Let us show you how to play the best Jacks or Better games with proper strategy at our top-ranked Internet casinos.

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How to play Jacks or Better video poker

As the foundation for most other types of real money video poker, Jacks or Better games are among the simplest and easiest to play. It follows standard five-card draw poker rules with a pay chart that rewards any hand that contains at least a pair of Jacks – thus the name.

The run of play goes like so:

  • Bet up to five coins her hand. As full pay Jacks or Better features a 4000-coin jackpot when playing five coins her hand, you should always play the maximum number of coins.
  • Hit ‘Deal’, then choose which cards to keep (or ‘hold’), then hit ‘Deal’ again to replace your discards.
  • If your hand features at least a pair of Jacks, you will win a coin payout as listed on the game’s pay chart.

Jacks or Better payout chart

Microgaming Jacks or Better payoutsWhen it comes to pay schedules in Jacks or Better poker, games fall into one of two broad categories:

Full pay – Also called 9/6 Jacks or Better poker, these games feature the traditional pay chart where a full house pays nine coins and a flush pays six.

Short pay – Some versions use an 8/5 system (or worse) with shorter odds on the full house and the flush, while others decrease or eliminate the jackpot on the royal flush.

It should be obvious, but we will stress the point anyway: only play Jacks or Better with a full 9/6 payout system and a royal flush jackpot, as anything less increases the casino’s mathematical advantage over the player and affects the ideal strategy. There a few exceptions where an altered pay chart can actually improve the player’s expected return, but most deviations from the norm hurt more than they help in the long run.

When playing the full five-coin bet, the standard payout odds for Jacks or Better poker are:

  • Royal flush – 800 for 1
  • Straight flush – 50 for 1
  • Four of a kind – 25 for 1
  • Full house – 9 for 1
  • Flush – 6 for 1
  • Straight – 4 for 1
  • Three of a kind – 3 for 1
  • Two pair – 2 for 1
  • Jacks or better – 1 for 1

For the full return at five coins per hand, multiply each set of odds by five (e.g. 800 x 5 = 4000 coins for a royal flush).

Strategy and house edge

Unlike the slots, where all outcomes are left to the whims of chance, it is possible in Jacks or Better poker to increase one’s likelihood of winning by sticking to a specific gameplan. Optimal strategy on a full pay game will yield an expected return of about 99.54 per cent – or, in other words, a house edge of only 0.46 per cent.

Below is the most common Jacks or Better strategy for a standard 9/6 pay chart. There are more complex, in-depth systems out there, but this simple list of set plays is a good way for beginners to learn the game while keeping the house edge under 0.50 per cent. To use it, compare your starting hand to those on the list and choose the highest-ranked option available to you.

  1. Royal flush, straight flush, or four of a kind
  2. Four cards to a royal flush
  3. Full house, flush, or three of a kind
  4. Four cards to a straight flush
  5. Two pair
  6. High pair
  7. Three cards to a royal flush
  8. Four cards to a flush
  9. Low pair
  10. Four cards to an outside straight
  11. Three cards to a straight flush (A)
  12. Ace-King-Queen-Jack unsuited
  13. Two suited high cards
  14. Four cards to an inside straight with three high cards
  15. Three cards to a straight flush (B)
  16. King-Queen-Jack unsuited
  17. Queen-Jack unsuited
  18. Jack-10 suited
  19. King-Queen or King-Jack unsuited
  20. Queen-10 suited
  21. Ace-King, Ace-Queen, or Ace-Jack unsuited
  22. King-10 suited
  23. One high card
  24. Three cards to a straight flush (C)
  25. Discard everything

When you have three cards to a straight flush, there are three different scenarios:

Type A: (Number of high cards) – (Number of gaps) = 0 or higher

Type B: (Number of high cards) – (Number of gaps) = -1

Type C: (Number of high cards) – (Number of gaps) = -2

For example, a hand featuring the Queen of Hearts, Jack of Hearts and Nine of Hearts qualifies for Type A because there are two high cards (Queen and Jack) and only one gap between the highest and lowest cards in the straight flush draw (the missing 10).

Best Jacks or Better poker games online

Our top online casinos carry Jacks or Better releases from some of the world’s most respected software developers, meaning you can be certain that all games are safe, fair, and regularly tested and approved by independent regulators. You can play these top titles straight through Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or any other Flash-enabled browser on PC or Mac, while some versions are also available on Android, iOS, and other mobile operating systems.

Betsoft Jacks or Better Pyramid PokerBetsoft – For sheer range of options, it’s hard to beat the Betsoft video poker collection. There are both single-play and multi-play versions, the latter of which allow players to bet on up to 100 hands at a time, while Pyramid Poker Jacks or Better features two additional pay charts for three-card combinations.

Microgaming – The oldest name in online casino software also happens to be a world leader when it comes to real money video poker. The standard one-play title delivers everything it should, while Jacks or Better Power Poker speeds up the action with four simultaneous hands.

Net Entertainment – If you’re looking for that little bit more value for money, NetEnt’s multi-play Jacks or Better Double Up is the way to go. You don’t get paid quite as much for straight flushes or fours of a kind, but the increased 5 for 1 payout on unsuited straights shaves around 0.02 per cent off the house edge when playing with correct strategy.

Looking for other video poker variants to try? Give these games a go:

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