Jacks or Better is one of the most popular video poker variants and is also one of the easiest to learn. This casino game shares some similarities with five-card draw poker, so players can easily learn how to play Jacks or Better video poker with some experience. We will cover the basics and show you the right Jacks or Better strategy to improve your results.
What is Jacks or Better?
Jacks or Better is a video poker variant where the lowest paying hand has a pair of Jacks. It is very similar to other variations and players can easily switch between versions after learning how to play video poker. In fact, Jacks or Better is arguably the easiest version to learn and master since the rules are straightforward.
Jacks or Better Video Poker Basics
In this game, you receive a payout based on the strength of the hand at the end of the round. Your start with five random cards after placing a bet. You can then choose to hold any of the cards, while replacing the other ones for free. Random cards from the deck will replace the cards that you didn’t hold and the resulting hand is final.
As the name suggests, you must have Jacks or better to receive a payout. A pair of Jacks pays 1x, so you are basically getting back the wager. This is also the case for a pair of Queens, Kings, or Aces. The actual ranking of the cards doesn’t matter as long as they meet the minimum hand requirement.
The payouts then go up for two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, and royal straight flush. It is worth mentioning in the Jacks or Better video poker tutorial that paytables can vary from game to game, especially for a flush and a straight. You can usually find the payout details right next to the dealt cards.
How to Choose a Jacks or Better Poker Game?
The best way to choose between different versions of Jacks or Better at online casinos is to check the return to player (RTP) rate. This is a theoretical estimation of how much the game pays out in relation to the amount wagered. The standard video poker Jacks or Better RTP is between 90% and 97%. However, the best versions can exceed 99.50% with the right strategy (more on that later).
Having different payouts for the same hand strength means that the games will provide different RTP rates. For the best results, we recommend a 9/6 video poker game. This refers to the payouts for a full house and a flush. The table should look something like the following, which results in an RTP of 99.54%:
|Four of a Kind||25x|
|Three of a Kind||3x|
|Jacks or Better||1x|
Other games can provide a higher payout for a royal flush, while lowering the rates for some of the weaker hands. This top-heavy approach is best-suited for players looking for large video poker Jacks or Better wins.
When choosing a casino game, you might also consider the theme. Online video poker games come in different styles, ranging from old-school classics that look like casino machines, to modern video games with detailed themes.
Furthermore, some games can allow you to play multiple hands at the same time. While this can sound overwhelming when first learning how to play Jacks or Better video poker, the truth is that you are only playing one hand, but you get to see multiple results. With multi-hand Jacks or Better rules, you can maximize the number of hands played per hour. Keep in mind that you are also betting a lot more per round.
How to Join a Casino to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker
Given the popularity of the game, you can find video poker options at the best real money online casinos in the US. Signing up is very simple and we will go through the quick steps required to open an account and start playing Jacks or Better video poker for real money.
Step 1 – Choose an Online Casino
Since most online casinos have Jacks or Better poker machines, you can choose from quite a few options in regulated states. For this example, we will go with BetMGM Casino due to its great gaming platform.
Step 2 – Open an Account
As a new player, you first have to create an account in order to access the games. Start the process by clicking on the “Register” button and then fill out the registration form on the site.
Step 3 – Deposit Real Money
While you can play Jacks or Better video poker for fun online by using practice credits, you will have to deposit real money for the full experience. You will also receive a 100% welcome bonus on the first deposit to double your bankroll from the very start.
Step 4 – Search for Jacks or Better
Since BetMGM Casino has more than 3,000 games, browsing the full list is not really an option. We recommend looking at the category for table games, or simply using the search function to quickly locate the video poker Jacks or Better game.
Step 5 – Enjoy the Game
Set the size of the bet from the buttons at the bottom. When ready, press the “Deal” button to receive five cards. Choose which ones to hold and then replace the other ones. You will automatically receive the payout if you win.
How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker
Once you start the game, you will see that there are different buttons available at the bottom. The style here can depend on the game in question and some versions can also have extra buttons for different features. For this example, we will be using NetEnt’s Jacks or Better Double Up video poker game because it is widely available online.
As you can see, the bottom dashboard has all the controls needed. The level is the number of coins wagered per hand. You can also activate up to 25 hands in this particular version and set the coin value between $0.10 and $10. The button in the middle is the deal button and will start a round at the selected stake.
For this example, let’s say we are playing at level 5, with five hands at a coin value of $0.20. This means that our total bet is $5 (25 coins of $0.20). After we press the deal button, we have the following starting hand:
With a pair of Kings in the start handing, we are guaranteed a positive result. So, we make sure to hold the two Kings and then replace the other cards. We end up with this result:
We win 30 coins as four of our five hands had a pair of Kings, while one improved and formed two pairs. This means a win of $6 for a $1 profit. We can now collect the payout by clicking on the orange button that is available in the middle.
Extra Feature – Double Up Gamble
For this Jacks or Better video poker guide, we also have to talk about the gambling feature. This is very easy to play and provides pure 50/50 odds. After landing a winning hand, you can enter the prize in a mini-game by clicking on the “Gamble” button. Here, you have to correctly predict the color of a random card, be it red or black. A correct guess will double the prize, but an incorrect guess will lose the amount. You can correctly guess the color multiple times in a row and double the sum every time.
Jacks or Better Video Poker Odds and Payouts
The general rules of Jacks or Better video poker remain the same and so do the odds, even if the payouts change. Every game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards that is reshuffled after every round. For games that show multiple hands, each hand uses a different version of the deck to ensure fair results. This means that every hand you play has the same odds since they don’t share cards.
Note that quite a few games provide a boosted Jacks or Better payout for a royal flush when using five coins, or at the maximum level. While the other payouts are simply multiplied by the level due to the added coins in the wager, the royal flush payout goes up significantly.
When this is the case, video poker Jacks or Better odds are better at the maximum level. We recommend lowering the coin value and maxing out the level. This will keep the bet size about the same, but you will still benefit from the increased payout for the strongest hand in the game.
Unfortunately, the odds of getting a royal flush in the first five cards are 1 in 649,740. With optimal play in 9/6 video poker, you have a 1 in 40,391 chance of creating a royal flush by changing the right cards. That’s still much lower odds than getting hit by lightning in your lifetime (1 in 15,300).
These are the video poker Jacks or Better odds for the initial hand:
|Royal Flush||1 in 649,740|
|Straight Flush||1 in 72,193|
|Four of a Kind||1 in 4,165|
|Full House||1 in 694|
|Flush||1 in 509|
|Straight||1 in 255|
|Three of a Kind||1 in 47|
|Two Pairs||1 in 21|
|High Pair (Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces)||1 in 7.69|
|Any Pair||1 in 2.37|
Jacks or Better Strategy
Video poker is a casino game where players can affect the outcome of the round. As a result, using the right video poker strategy can improve the results. This is basically a series of correct moves to make based on the probability of winning. While they don’t guarantee a win every round, or even every session for that matter, following a Jacks or Better cheat sheet can have good results in the long run.
Keep in mind that even with optimal play, the casino has an advantage in most games. The RTP in 9/6 video poker Jacks or Better is of around 99.54%, which makes it similar to blackjack with optimal strategy.
After learning the basics on how to play video poker jacks or better, you can start implementing the following tips. Following these will result in the perfect Jacks or Better video poker strategy, but it can be difficult to remember all of them. So, practice makes perfect.
- If you only have one high card, hold it and draw new ones for the other four.
- If you have any pair, hold it and draw three new cards even if you have a straight/flush draw.
- Break a low pair if you have four to a straight flush or a royal flush.
- Only break a high pair if you have four cards of a straight flush or royal flush.
- Always hold any two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, or four of a kind.
- Hold a flush or a straight, unless you are only one card away from a royal flush.
- If you have a suited 10 and Ace as the highest two cards, only keep the Ace.
- If you have four cards of a flush or straight, with no pairs, hold the four cards and draw one.
- When you start with three cards to a royal flush and no pairs, keep the three cards and draw two.
How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker on Mobile
While the mechanics and the Jacks or Better rules remain the same when switching from a desktop computer to a mobile device, the interface can change a bit. This is because some online casino games can be optimized for iPhone and Android devices. As a result, you have a more compact dashboard and the buttons are moved to the right side. This gives you easy access with your thumb when holding the phone in landscape view.
The good news is that if you know how to play Jacks or Better video poker, you can easily continue on the mobile version. The main difference is that you have to open the betting interface from the menu button at the bottom to set the stake.
We found that some mobile video poker games remain the same as on desktop computers. So, you have the same buttons at the bottom.
Jacks or Better Video Poker Tips
The following Jacks or Better tips will help you make the most of the gaming session online. Some of these don’t apply when playing Jacks or Better video poker in casinos, but can give you an edge on online sites.
- Practice for Free – Play Jacks or Better video poker for fun to learn how the controls work. You can opt for the demo version and practice for free while using virtual credits. Also try out the mobile version if you plan on playing on the go.
- Use Casino Bonuses – As a new player learning how to play Jacks or Better video poker, you can claim a welcome bonus when joining the casino. This will boost your bankroll and thus give you more opportunities to win. Check the terms to see if video poker games are eligible for the offer.
- Choose the Right Game – There are different versions of the game that provide different Jacks or Better payouts. We recommend the 9/6 video poker variant, but also check to make sure that four of a kind pay 25x.
- Bet the Maximum Coins – For the best Jacks or Better strategy, bet five coins per round. This is because some games have a boosted payout for a royal flush at the highest betting level. You can still change the coin value to make sure that you are not betting too much.
- Gamble Responsibly – Keep in mind that even with the right moves and a perfect Jacks or Better cheat sheet on hand, you are not guaranteed a winning session. Don’t bet more money than you can afford to lose. Moreover, set deposit and spending limits to help you stay within budget.