Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better could be considered the vanilla ice cream of video poker. It’s plain, it’s basic, but it’s so satisfying in its simplicity. And, it’s pretty much the true original video poker game.

GambleRock’s Jacks or Better video poker online guide will teach you what you need to know about playing this game on the internet and offline as well.

Jacks or Better Online

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I’ve been working with internet casinos since 2001 and playing blackjack for 24 years. I understood card counting before I even started playing the game. I love to share my knowledge and betting experience with other people and help you find legit online gambling sites to play at. I’ve also recently started a GambleRock twitch channel for streaming online blackjack real money play.

Free Jacks or Better Video Poker Game

Draw Poker

The original video poker game was called Draw Poker, but it wasn’t very popular because the payouts started at two pair. There were just too few winning combinations to make the game compelling.

Someone had the brilliant idea of offering an even money payout on a pair of Jacks or Better, which means that about half the hands win something, even though an even money payout isn’t really a true win.

And the psychology of hitting wins that often worked, and made video poker the most popular casino game after slots and blackjack, because now players had an emotionally valid reason to play.

(Another variation is Deuces Wild, which still has a stiff winning hand requirement, but the addition of 4 wild cards made it a lot more attractive to players too.)

How to Play Jacks or Better

The how to play video poker section applies here, and Jacks or Better plays just like other video poker games. You’re dealt five cards, you decide which ones to keep and which ones to throw away, you get new cards in place of your discards, and you win a payback based on the payback table

Full Pay Jacks or Better

Full pay video poker payback tables offer the top payout for that game variety. Jacks or Better is considered full pay when it offers a payout of 9 for 1 for a full house and payback of 6 for 1 on a flush. This is called a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine, and the payout percentage is about 99.5% on this game.

It’s important to note that most Jacks or Better games are not full pay games. Most of them offer an 8/5 pay table. In 8/5 Jacks or Better, the payout percentage drops significantly, from 99.5% to 97.3%. (Some of them, in fact, quite a few of them, offer 7/5 pay tables, which is so horrible I don’t even want to talk about it. On the other hand, some 8/5 Jacks or Better games offer progressive jackpots, which can possibly make a positive expectation situation for a player.)

This might not sound significant, but when you calculate over time what it costs to play one of these machines, it adds up quickly indeed. With a 0.5% edge, the house makes $3.75 per hour from a quarter video poker machine. (That’s what you’ll lose over the long term per hour of play.) But on an 8/5 machine, that loss per hour increases to over $20 per hour!

This is calculated by multiplying the wager amount by the number of wagers per hour times the house edge. I assumed a quarter machine with max bet ($1.25) and 600 wagers per hour, and the house edge of 0.5% on the 9/6 game and the house edge of 2.7% on the 8/5 game. (This house edge also assumes perfect video poker strategy.)

Jacks or Better Video Poker Tips

I’ll cover a full Jacks or Better poker strategy in a later article, but for now, here are some quick, easy-to-remember strategy tips:

  • Be sure you know how to read the pay table and find a 9/6 Jacks or Better game.
  • Always use your slot card.
  • Never keep a kicker. (A kicker is a high card that you keep with a pair hoping to make a higher 2 pair than your opponent. Since you don’t have an opponent in video poker, you don’t keep the kicker.)
  • Don’t draw to an inside straight. (An inside straight draw only has one card which can complete it, like 7910J. There are only 4 8’s.)
  • Get a video poker strategy chart for Jacks or Better and follow the strategy religiously. No hunches or deviations. Keep the math in your favor.
  • The most important tip? Have fun while you’re playing.

Find out more about Jacks or Better in our video poker strategy page.

On GambleRock.com you can learn about other casino games such as Deuces Wild Video Poker.

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