Video Poker: Jacks Or Better Strategy Tips

There are many different video poker games out there –  but Jacks or Better remains the gold standard. It’s the simplest game of them all, and if you play your cards right, you can narrow the house edge to a minuscule 0.46%. Play Jacks or Better at a live casino with a healthy progressive jackpot attached, and you’ll be the one with the edge.

Learning how to play optimal Jacks or Better takes some time, but it isn’t rocket science. And you can get yourself most of the way there by starting with a near-optimal strategy. Here are three tips to point you in the right direction.

 

Pay Attention To The Paytable

In order to get the lowest house edge possible, you need to find a “Full Pay” machine that gives you the best rewards for making hands. With Jacks or Better, you’re getting paid nine coins for a Full House and six for a Flush. The lowest house edge you can get playing 9-5 Jacks or Better is 1.56%.

 

Bet The Max

The biggest prize in Jacks or Better is 4000 coins, which you win by hitting a Royal Flush after betting the maximum five coins. That’s an 800X return; if you bet fewer than five coins, you only win 250X for a Royal. Betting five coins per hand is clearly the optimal play. If you’ve been betting one coin at 25 cents per hand, bet five coins at five cents each instead.

 

Analyze Your Hand Strength

The general strategy for video poker is to look at your five cards, identify the ones to keep, and discard the rest. The most effective way to do this is by making a list that starts with the strongest starting hands (Four of a Kind or better) where you keep everything, and ends with the worst hands where you toss everything. A near-optimal strategy for Jacks or Better can give you a house edge of 0.54% with a list of 16 different hand strengths. The optimal strategy has 36 levels and a number of exceptions. You’ll find both strategies on the internet; start by learning the easier list, then move up when you’re ready. Don’t wreck your brain over 0.08%.