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Tips for Successful Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

The success of poker games is measured by their return and variance. Poker playing with machines, known as video poker, is increasingly becoming a chosen alternative.

Video poker games enable their players to determine returns and variances, hence are the ones with the best odds. Jacks or Better video poker game is very popular owing to its high return and relatively low variance.

The house has an advantage in any casino, and jacks or better video poker is no different. However, if you play jacks or better video poker right, you can reduce that advantage and increase the chances of winning every time video poker is played. Poker is a social game & you can play poker games with your real friends or players online or offline. Offline poker games are simple and fairgame play that can be played at anytime, anywhere with your friends or with professional players.

Jacks or Better Terminologies and Ranks

The best jacks or better strategy is to play poker in the following order of ranks of the play. Jacks or Better strategy for video poker is to play depending on the combination of cards in hand, which must be better than that of the machine.

Ranks are best understood with a few terms that are key to get to know poker better.


These terms are not in a particular order and are also ranked in the poker game. Some of them are used in combination to form other ranks of poker.

  • One pair is two cards of the same denomination. In poker, if each card of the pair is a jack or better, winning the hand is easy. Hence the name of the game, jacks or better.
  • Three-of-a-kind, also known as Trips or a Set, results when you play three cards of the same denomination in poker.
  • Straight is formed when all five cards in hand form a consecutive sequence, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 or 9, T, J, Q, and K. The cards may or may not be from the same suit.
  • Flush is formed when the cards do not form a straight but are from the same suit.


  1. Royal Flush is the best five-card poker hand possible, also known as the high straight, and has the highest rank. In a royal flush, all cards are of the same suit, straight, and at the top end of the series. In other words, it is a set of T, J, Q, K, and A of the same suit.
  2. Straight flush is when all cards are of the same suit and in a consecutive sequence. For example, a set of 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of diamonds qualifies as a straight flush in poker.
  3. Four-of-a-kind happens when four of the five cards are of the same denomination. What makes the hand stronger is the place of the denomination in the series, that is four aces are strongest followed by four kings, four queens, and so forth, which means that four deuces are weakest. Four-of-a-kind is also called Quads in poker.
  4. Full house, also called a Boat, is a combination of a three-of-a-kind and one pair. One must ideally choose to play full house, only when the pair in hand is not jacks or better.
  5. Flush follows next in rank to the full house in poker.
  6. Straight follows next in rank to the flush.
  7. Three-of-a-kind follows next in rank to the straight in poker.
  8. Two-pair is a hand when a play has two sets of pairs and a random card.
  9. One pair follows next in rank to the two-pair in poker.
  10. High card is a play won out of the highest single card in a hand, but in the absence of a pair. Irrespective of the denominations or sequence of other cards, in which there should not be a single pair, the hand with the highest card wins in poker. For example, out of two hands, one of 3-4-8-9-Q and the other of 1-3-6-9-J, the hand with the Q wins.

Odds And Jacks Or Better Video Poker Strategy

Odds of Winning Jacks or Better

A strategy formed by the appropriate order of the ranks played or taking actions based on the machine’s strategy, results in the best rate of return in a video poker game. Depending on the probability of certain hand outcomes, one must play the game of poker with the right strategy.

If we go by what was explained earlier, one pair of aces wins over a full house with a pair of kings any time, even though the former is ranked way below the latter. However, a two-pair hand with a pair of queens and a pair of jacks results in a winning hand above one pair.

However, one must play a full pay game to ensure the maximum rate of return. Most online casinos do not specify if a play is a full pay, contrary to your best interest. In a full pay play of jacks or better, the chances of winning are as high as two times the bet, in case of a two-pair hand. And a full pay play has the best odds of winning not only on video poker but also across the table.

Strategies For Video Poker

At times, being dealt with and or retaining a low pair improves the chances of winning the video poker play. Jacks or better video poker game-winning strategy is to improvise on persistently retaining a low pair, even if one card of the pair forms a straight, a flush, a straight flush, or a royal flush. Jacks or better optimal video poker play recommends that the low pair is kept.

Hence, instead of trying to chase a glorious win, to play jacks or better video poker in a way to an obvious win is far less invariance and high in returns. In other words, the hand with a pair of jacks or better need not necessarily win the video poker play. The winning probability is improved by having a pair of jacks or better in poker, but the strategy need not be a jack or better strategy.

A better strategy can be two-pair, high pair, one pair, or a high card. A high pair has consistent chances to win the hand and found to be a better strategy than the low pair. A royal flush is best but rare, whereas a high card is least desirable but most probable in poker.

When to Play the Low Pair

Poker winning probability and the strategy to choose depends on the denomination and suit of three out of the five cards dealt. 

  • If three cards are leading to a royal flush by breaking the pair of remaining two, then a royal flush is the strategy. 
  • If three or four cards are of a kind, then avoid chasing a royal flush or a straight flush.
  • If all cards are of the same suit, then chase a straight, a flush, or a royal flush.
  • If all cards are not of the same suit, chase a straight and not a flush.
  • If there are two pairs, but no chance of a straight or a flush, then retain the low pair or the one with jacks or better.
  • If there are two pairs, with a chance of a royal flush, then retain the high pair or the one with jacks or better.
  • If there is one pair, retain if it is jacks or better pair else break it if the other three can be combined and chased for a flush, a straight, a full house or a straight flush.
  • If there is one pair, retain it if the pair is of jacks or better and the other three are random.
  • If four or all cards are random, retain the high card else chase a flush or a straight.

Sometimes, a three to a straight flush or a four to a straight flush is used as an intervening strategy to improve the odds of winning or the probability of earning a higher return in poker.

Winning With A Pat Hand

A pat hand is when the player is dealt with all but one card short of completing a set and winning the game. In this case, one must choose wisely as to which card is to be discarded and what combination to pursue.

When dealt a pat hand with a straight, a flush, or a full house, it is called a pat straight, flush, or full house respectively. It is advisable to hold all cards in such a situation and not leave an edge on the table. This may not happen in the most preferable way, however, given below are two scenarios.

  1. If dealt with a pat flush, such as 6-J-Q-K-A, discard the 6 and go for a royal flush. Such a situation is known as a four to a royal flush.
  2. If dealt with a pat straight, a four to a royal flush may happen such as in Td-Jd-Qs-Kd-Ad. In this case, discard the Qs and wait for the Qd.

Full Pay Versus Short Pay Video Poker Strategy

Jacks or better strategy used for a full pay video poker game, as explained earlier, has the highest rate of return. It is found in most online casino poker games, due to its low variance, the highest probability to win, and almost two times the return.

If the video poker is won using any other strategy, a full pay results in a more multiplied but less frequent rate of return. A full house and a flush earn as much as nine for one and six for one respectively in full pay, but not as frequently as jacks or better video poker. A royal flush being a rare occurrence or of very high variance, it returns only about two percent.

Video poker games with the short pay version of jacks or better are also available. Returns are just two to three percent shy of the amount staked in the beginning, but the odds of winning video poker are higher than full pay. Returns of a full house and a flush are just reduced by one for one in a short pay video poker, making it a preferred choice over the full pay version.

However, the tendency to continuously take a risk on the two to three percent and settling for short pay eventually results in a bigger loss over multiple video poker games. Hence, this version is not highly recommended by casino experts.

Pay Table and Slow Down

A pay table or chart gives a better idea about whether a player should choose to play a full pay or a short pay game. Most casinos have machines with a variety of pay charts, showing different long and short-term house edges. Charts with less short-term house edges prompt players to stake more in the beginning and go desperately after a series of games chasing a higher return. 

This is where slowing down becomes important. A player has to pace the plays in such a way that although the house gains more in the beginning, it is the player who takes more returns in the long run. 

Switching between machines rarely makes a difference since all machines are on the same network of the casino and controlled at the backend by the same statistical codes. However, switching between casinos gives a different edge to a player who is looking at long term returns.

Video Poker vs. Online Slots

Card strategies of video poker apply to slots as well. However, in contrast to video poker, slots are played using coins. Each coin has a number and a value assigned to it depending upon how much money is being bet.

It is most advisable to use more coins of less value or less coins per line to win better payouts. For example, using 5 coins of $2 is a better strategy than using 1 coin of $10. And betting in 10 lines of $10 each is better than betting in 1 line of $100. Hence, by betting 50 coins of $2 across 10 lines, a player improves his winning chances as compared to betting 1 coin of $100.

Xiang Han

Xiang Han is a journalist at CapitalBay.News and has hands-on experience in the poker industry. He frequently plays online poker games and serves as a tournament consultant for popular online poker rooms.

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