The Best Jacks or Better Strategy to Improve Your Winning Chances

Jacks or Better Strategy
Jacks or Better Strategy

  • The right Jacks or Better video Poker strategy can improve your chances
  • This guide shows you how to play Jacks or Better video Poker
  • Use the Jacks or Better strategy card to your advantage

You know that video Poker is one of the games with the best odds — but can you really say that you know the ins and outs of the best video Poker strategy to improve your chances at Jacks or Better?

In this article, I am going to show you how to maximize your winning chances at video Poker and how to use the best Jacks or Better strategy to get the most value out of your cards.

The video Poker strategy tips on this article are not a surefire way to win at Jacks or Better.

Remember: Jacks or Better video Poker, like all the other games of its kind, is a gambling game.

As such, the house has always an advantage. With the right Jacks or Better video Poker strategy, you can reduce that advantage to a minimum and increase your chances to win.

Why Play Jacks or Better

Video poker is one of the most entertaining games one can play at a Casino — but if you think that's what makes the Jacks of Better variant as popular as it is today, you are wrong.

Video Poker happens to be also one of the Casino games which offer players the best return.

Why is video Poker so good for the players? When you play using the video Poker optimal strategy, on a full pay game, you can have an expected return of up to 99.54%.

Jacks or Better Basic Strategy Chart: the Poker Hands

video poker basic strategy

Let's start from the very basics of the Jacks of Better strategy to understand how to play Jacks or Better video Poker and improve your chances to win.

The first step to win your games of Jacks or Better video Poker, is to learn how Jacks or Better works and go through the rules of video Poker.

Only once you know the very basics of the game you can move to learn more about the various hard strengths in Poker.

Are you a Poker player? If so, this might sound quite obvious to you. Just don't forget this is a guide to the Jacks or Better video poker strategy for beginners.

The goal of a game of Jacks or Better video Poker is to end up with the best 5 card poker hand possible.

To do that, even before we jump on the optimal strategy and the best ways to play Jacks or Better video Poker online, you need to be familiar with how are the hands ranked in Poker.

  • Royal Flush: The best possible hand you can have in Poker. This is a high straight (T-J-Q-K-A) where all the cards are of the same suit.
  • Straight Flush: This five-card poker hand is similar to the Royal Flush. The difference is that any five-card straight of the same suit qualify.
  • Four-of-a-Kind: As the name suggests, you need four of the same card denomination. Four kings are stronger than four deuces. And four Aces are stronger than four kings. This hand is often referred to as 'Quads'.
  • Full House: Also known as a 'Boat', it results when you have a five-card hand composed by one pair and a three-of-a-kind.
  • Flush: Occurs when you hold five cards of the same suit. If they happen to form a straight then you have a Straight or Royal flush as explained above.
  • Straight: A five-card hand that form a consecutive sequence. For example, 4-5-6-7-8 or 9-T-J-Q-K
  • Three-of-a-Kind: Three cards of the same hand value or denomination. This hand is also referred to as 'trips' or 'a set'.
  • Two Pairs: Results when you hold two sets of pairs and a random card.
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same hand denomination. In video Poker any pair that is Jacks or better results in a winning hand
  • High Card: In a game of Poker, when you don't have a pair the highest single card wins. If you hold 3-4-7-8-K and your opponent holds 7-8-9-T-Q, you win because your highest card (K) beats their highest card (Q).

Want to win more? Play a Full-Pay game of Jacks or Better!

In a full-pay game of Jacks or Better, you win 2x your bet when you hold two pairs.

Best Jacks or Better video Poker Games Online

You should always look for full-pay games. Not only these come with larger prizes, but they have exactly the same RTP of the other games.

Many online Casinos do not specify the differences between their full-pay games of Jacks or Better and those that are not full-pay as they hope you'll choose what's best for them and not what is best for yourself.

To find the best full-pay games to play online (with a bonus), follow this advice:


Top Jacks or Better Strategy to Improve Your Chances at Video Poker

Jacks or Better Beginners Strategy

A good video Poker strategy is all about taking actions that have the best possible expected rate of return. Obviously, you can't beat video poker in the sense that you'll win every time you play. That's not possible and it is not going to happen.

The game of Poker revolves around the probability of certain outcomes coming to fruition.

Understanding the odds of these outcomes in various situations is how professional Poker players gain an edge in the games they play.

Playing with the Jacks or Better optimal strategy allows for no mistakes and demands the strictest level of discipline.

A pair of Jacks or Better is the lowest winning hand in this game of video Poker. When you hit a pair of Jacks through to aces you win your money back

How to Play a Low Pair

The low pair is the most improvable hand you can be dealt with in a game of Jacks or Better video poker.

How you play in these situations will determine how close to optimal Jacks or Better video poker strategy you will land.

Most of the time the decision to hold onto a low pair is obvious. There are times however where certain possibilities are available and players get so greedy...they make mistakes.

These mistakes are what separates the winners from the losers.

Below you find some real-life example where, even though it would tempting to go for a big score, you should hold onto your pair and seek to build upon it.

  • If you are dealt a low pair whilst having four to a straight, you should always keep your pair.

    E.g. If you are dealt 2-2-3-4-5 you should discard 3-4-5 and draw three cards. Don't give your 2s away.

  • If you are dealt a low pair whilst having three to a straight flush, we want to keep our pair.

    E.g., when you have 4s-5s-6s-6h-Ad you need to keep your pair of sixes and draw three cards. This is the best strategy to play Jacks or Better video Poker.

  • If you are dealt a low pair while having two of the cards that could lead to a royal flush, the Jacks or Better optimal play dictates that you should keep the pair.

    E.g. when you have 4h-4s-7c-Kd-Ad the play is to hold onto the two fours and abandon the chase for glory.

When to Break a Low Pair

Conversely, there are situations where the best Jacks or Better strategy to win at video Poker shows us that breaking a low pair is profitable over the long term.

  • When dealt three to a Royal Flush and holding a low pair, you should always embark on a journey along the path to glory by breaking your low pair.

    E.g. If you have 3s-Jc-Jh-Qc-Kc you want to discard the 3s and Jh in search of the gold.

  • When you have four to a flush along with a low pair, the correct play is to go for the flush.

    E.g. if you hold 6h-6d-9h-Qh-Kh you should ditch the 6 of diamonds and look for a fifth heart.

When to Keep a High Pair

Jacks or Better basic Strategy

A pair of Jacks or Better in video Poker constitutes a winning hand and you are guaranteed to get your money back.

Most tutorials advise that you should never break a high pair and for the most part, they are correct.

Below are some real-life situations where you may be tempted to break a pair of Jacks or better, in search of a bigger win.

However, the Jacks or Better optimal strategy demands a disciplined approach of holding onto what you already have.

  • When you have four to a flush that includes a pair of Jacks or better, you should always keep the high pair and discard the other 3 cards.

    Note that in the same situation with a low pair you would go for the flush.

    The reason for this is that the high pair is already a winning hand whereas the low pair is not, changing the maths considerably in your favour.

  • Holding a high pair whilst also having four to a straight is another spot where holding onto your high pair is the correct play.

    The odds on you hitting the straight are not high enough to warrant foregoing a winning hand, that still has the possibility to improve.

  • When you are dealt a hand containing three to a royal flush including a high pair it is certainly tempting to go for the Royal Flush.

    In this case, it pays to hold onto your pair.

    E.g. A hand made of 3h-Ts-Js-Qh-Qs looks great and has lots of potentials. However, the disciplined move is to keep your pair of ladies.

  • Three to a straight flush whilst holding a high pair also looks great, however holding your pair is going to pay dividends over the long term.

    E.g. A hand like 4d-9h-Jh-Qd-Qh should again result in you holding onto those ladies.

There is one situation where Jacks or Better video poker optimal strategy indicates that players should break a high pair. When you hold a high pair with four to a royal flush you should break the pair and look to hit the 1 card that will pay off huge.

Breaking a Winning Pat Hand

When most players are dealt a winning pat hand such as a Straight, a Full House, or any form or Flush, you should hold all your cards and take the win.

This is correct for the most part. However, you will leave some edge on the table unless you make the following adjustments.

Although this may seem crazy, it happens to be backed up by solid math around the probability of certain outcomes occurring.

  • When dealt a pat flush such as 5-9-T-J-Q-K we also have what is called four to a Royal Flush. In this situation the correct play is to discard the 5 and go for the Royal Flush.
  • When dealt a pat straight that is also four to a Royal Flush such a Ts-Js-Qh-Ks-As, we should discard the Qh and go for the royal. The payoff when we hit the Qs is worth it.

Optimal Strategy Recap

strategy to win at Jacks or Better

Playing Jacks or Better video poker in an optimal way maximises your expected return as a player.

It takes extensive practice to understand each situation and the relevant action necessary to play perfectly.

You should employ the use of a Jacks or better strategy trainer to test yourself and practice your play.

The more efficient you get in making these decisions to faster you will start to play at an optimal level.

The main concept behind playing video Poker profitably is discipline.

The math is clear around the probabilities involved with certain outcomes and all that is left is for you to make decisions on your actions based upon those probabilities.

Using statistics is always the right move. Learn to rely on numbers rather than on emotions, and you'll become a better player right away.

BioPolitical scientist, and gambling expert, I have spent the most part of the last ten years writing about the casino and poker industry. As a professional journalist, I work with FOX News, La Repubblica, the Economist, Politico, and PokerNews. As a gambler, I won money pretty much anywhere in Europe. As a gambling editor, I'll help you do the same.
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