Jacks or Better Strategy – Learn How to Play the Best Video Poker Game

9 minutes

Last Updated: December 17, 2023

jacks or better

Jacks or Better is the most popular video poker variation and the perfect pick if you want to delve into this gambling niche. It’s easy to learn and requires direct and uncomplicated strategies you can conveniently follow to make sure you play every hand optimally.

In this detailed Jacks or Better strategy guide, we’ll cover everything you should know about this video poker game. Read on to learn the best online casino Jacks or Better strategies, payouts, and other valuable tips!

How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better is primarily a luck-based game. But, like all other video poker variations, it involves a certain degree of skill.

Every Jacks or Better game starts with you placing a bet after setting the amount of coins and their value. You can bet up to five coins and tailor between various coin values.

Once you’ve placed your bet and pressed the “deal” button, you will receive five cards. You can choose to keep or discard as many of these cards, based on your strategy.

After selecting the cards you want to keep, you will press the “deal” or “draw” button to get new cards in place of the ones you discarded.

After randomly getting new cards, the machine will pay out depending on your hand’s strength. This game starts again with you selecting how much you want to bet.

Complete Jacks or Better Strategy Guide

The strategy for Jacks or Better is very simple, and the sheet makes it very easy to tell what the right move is. Of course, for the most immersive experience, it’s better to learn the best decisions, as this will enable you to play intuitively and not look at the sheet for every hand.

Plus, as you can’t make any other gameplay decisions when playing, you only need to focus on which cards to keep and which to discard. The sheet we’ll show below covers each hand and helps you quickly determine the best decision based on your situation.

jacks or better strategy

It’s crucial to remember that you should read the sheet from top to bottom for every hand you look up. Doing so ensures you’re focusing on the higher-ranked card first.

Moreover, in most cases, it also helps you cover a lover-valued hand, so you have better winning chances on the draw.

Here’s a complete Jacks or Better strategy sheet you need when playing the Full Pay version of this game:

Jacks or Better HandNumber of Cards to KeepNumber of Cards to Discard
Royal Flush50
Straight Flush50
Full House50
Four to a Royal Flush41
Four to a Straight Flush41
Two Pair41
High Pair23
Three to a Royal Flush32
Four to a Flush41
Low Pair23
Four to a Straight41
Three to a Straight Flush32
Two to a Royal Flush23
Two High Cards23
One High Card14

If you don’t have any cards listed in the sheet above, you should discard all five cards in your hand. This straightforward strategy will enable you to play every Jacks or Better hand optimally. With that in mind, to make this a bit clearer, we’ll take a look at a quick example.

Let’s say you get a hand of 3 of Clubs, 4 of Hearts, 5 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, and 6 of Spades. Compared to most hands, you might think that this hand is weak and doesn’t give you the best winning chances. But, there are actually several ways you can play it, with only one of them being the optimal pick.

The first thing that’s apparent is that you have four to a straight. Besides this, you also have three to a straight flush. So, you might be split on which hand you should go for. Well, looking at the sheet above, you can see that you shouldn’t actually go for either of these hands.

This is because you also have a pair of sixes. A quick glance at the sheet shows that a pair of sixes (low pair), ranks higher than both a four-to-a-straight hand and a three-to-a-straight flush hand.

Knowing this, you can tell that you should keep the pair of sixes and discard the other three cards.

Admittedly, this is just one example of the many hands you’ll see. But, it gives a clear picture of how differently a game can be played for most hands if you play it by ear.

This strategy is very easy to follow, and it’s essential to use if you want to maximize your winnings. Remember, diverging from this optimal Jacks or Better strategy will negatively affect your results and cost you money over time.

Additional Tips for Complementing Your Jacks or Better Poker Strategy

jacks or better video poker

In addition to ensuring optimal decision-making for every hand, there are a few other things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your Jacks or Better video poker strategy. Here are a few valuable tips you should implement when playing Jacks or Better:

Know the Rules and Paytable

Jacks or Better is a straightforward game. However, there are some things that are essential to learn before playing. If you don’t know how draw poker works, hand rankings, and other rules, learning this should be your top priority.

Additionally, learn the payouts you can expect for each hand based on how much you bet. Knowing your way around the Jacks or Better paytable enables you to make informed decisions with a complete understanding of the game.

While you can use the strategy sheet when playing video poker, it’s not advisable to jump into real-money Jacks or Better right away if you’re a complete beginner.

Instead, consider practicing online for free first. Many online casinos offer this option, so take advantage of it to learn the ropes without risking any of your real cash.

Set a Gambling Bankroll

If you want to ensure the best long-term results when playing Jacks or Better, setting a bankroll that suits your finances is imperative. Having a dedicated bankroll provides several key advantages.

Primarily, it enables you to separate your gambling funds from the rest of your finances. What’s more, a dedicated bankroll for Jacks or Better will make it easier for you to be disciplined. 

In other words, it helps you be mindful of how much you’re spending while also serving as a risk management tool.

Pick the Right Jacks or Better Version

how to play jacks or better

As is the case with many other video poker variations, Jacks or Better comes in several versions in terms of its payouts. Depending on which version you pick, you might be unintentionally limiting your returns over time.

Preferably, only play the 9/6 Jacks or Better variation. This is the most favorable version of the game, as it offers payout percentages of 99.54%. That said, because of this fact, it’s often harder to find in casinos than other Jacks or Better versions.

Besides this version, you can find 9/5 Jacks or Better, 8/6 Jacks or Better, 8/5 Jacks or Better, 7/5 Jacks or Better, and 7/6 Jacks or Better.

If you were to pick some of these variations instead of the 9/6 version, you could see a payout percentage drop of anywhere from 1% to 5%.

Use Bonuses and Promotions

If you’re playing Jacks or Better online, make sure to maximize the value you get from various casino bonuses and promotions.

Welcome deposit offers, ongoing bonuses for regular players, and various loyalty perks can be valuable tools for boosting your Jacks or Better bankroll.

On the other hand, if you’re playing the game in a land-based casino, check the requirements and the types of perks you can obtain. From free meals and drinks to free accommodation and more, you can use these comps to get various advantages.

Don’t Chase Losses and Know When to Stop

It’s normal for most humans to struggle to discern when to “cut their losses” when things aren’t going their way. However, the inability to do so when playing video poker can have a detrimental impact on your finances, even if you have a well-thought-out bankroll management plan.

Having this in mind, you should never chase losses and try to turn a bad session around. Losing streaks can happen, and in these cases, it’s best to know when to stop.

Focus on the long game, as these results will even out over time, provided you play optimally, have a bankroll strategy, and play the Full Pay version.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Paytable

jacks or better pay table

Depending on which Jacks or Better variation you play, you will encounter varying payouts. With that in mind, it’s important to always look for the 9/6 Jacks or Better variant, as the best-paying option. Here are the payouts you can get with this Full Pay Jacks or Better game:

  • A Pair of Jacks or Better — 1
  • Two Pairs — 1
  • Three-of-a-Kind — 3
  • Straight (Five consecutive cards) — 4
  • Flush (Any five cards in a matching suit) — 6
  • Full House (A three-of-a-kind and pair) — 9
  • Four-of-a-Kind — 25
  • Straight Flush (Any five consecutive cards in the same suit) — 50
  • Royal Flush (A 10-Ace hand in a matching suit) — 800

Should You Always Bet the Maximum in Jacks or Better?

You might’ve heard many players advocating that the best way to play this game is to always bet the maximum amount. The reason for this is that you’re eligible to win the game’s 4000 coin payout, which is only available to those who bet five coins.

This is certainly the best way to play Jacks or Better if you have the bankroll to support this strategy. Moreover, you don’t actually have to set the maximum coin value if you still want to bet the most coins but are mindful of your bankroll.

This flat betting system is the easiest and most effective way to play Jacks or Better video poker. While you can use positive and negative progression betting systems, Jacks or Better and other video poker don’t require any complex betting tactics.

Betting five coins every hand mathematically gives you the best returns in the long run. So, even if you don’t land the elusive Royal Flush, you’ll still be making the most of your Jacks or Better bankroll.

Jacks or Better Strategy FAQ

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