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Jacks or Better

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Jacks or Better Video Poker

There are so many different variations of video poker out there, but among the most popular is Jacks or Better, also known as Draw Poker. This is among the most basic variations of video poker that you can play because you need only hold a hand with Jacks or Better to receive a payout. Jacks or Better is was the first variant of video poker to be produced, which is why its play closely resembles the original Draw Poker game.

As in most online video poker games, a hand of Jacks or Better begins with the player’s bet. He is then dealt five cards which he may keep or discard in search of a better hand at his choice.

Jacks or Better - Understanding the Hands

  • High: Any card that is a Jack or higher. Low, on the other hand, refers to all cards that are lower in value than a Jack. Examples of high cards include Ace, King, Queen, and Jack, while low cards run from 2 through 10.
  • Royal Flush: Refers to five sequential cards of matching suit starting with 10 and ending with Ace. This is the highest paying hand in Jacks or Better.
  • Straight Flush: Comprised of five sequential cards of similar suit up to 10 (e.g. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
  • Four of a Kind: Refers to four cards of the same number. For instance, four Kings or four 2s.
  • Full House: Consists of a hand with three of a kind plus a pair (e.g. three 7s and two Kings).
  • Four to a Royal Flush: This simply means you hold four of the five cards needed to form a Royal Flush. For instance, if you have a 10, Jack, Queen, and King, you only need an Ace to complete the Royal Flush.
  • Flush: Contains five cards of the same suit.
  • Three of a Kind: A hand that contains three cards of the same number. For example, three 6s or three Jacks.
  • Straight: Refers to five cards in sequential order but not necessarily of the same suit.
  • Four to a Straight Flush: Simply means you hold four of the five needed cards to complete a Straight Flush.
  • Two Pair: Refer to two pairs of cards, each pair containing the same number (e.g. two 4s and two Aces).
  • Three to a Royal Flush: You hold three of the necessary cards needed to form a Royal Flush.
  • Four to a Flush: Contains four cards of same suit.
  • Four to a Straight: Contains four cards in sequential order, but not necessarily of the same suit.
  • Three to a Straight Flush: Means you have three cards in sequential order and of the same suit to make a Straight Flush.
  • Two to a Royal Flush: Two cards to securing a Royal Flush.

How to Win at Jacks or Better Video Poker

  • Discard the fifth card whenever you have four cards to a Royal Flush, even if that card gives you a Pair or a Flush.
  • Three of a Kind, a Flush, a High Pair, and a Straight all outrank three to a Royal Flush. Play three to Royal Flush when you have lower hands such as a Low Pair or four to a Flush.
  • Keep a High Pair, a Straight, and four to a Flush whenever you have two cards to a Royal Flush.
  • Do not break up a made Flush or a Straight unless when you need only one card to make a Royal Flush.
  • Always keep a High Pair over four to a Flush and four to a Straight.
  • Do not break up a Full House, Three of a Kind, Four of a Kind, or Two Pair.
  • Keep a High Pair unless you have four cards to a Straight Flush or four cards to a Royal Flush.
  • Keep a Low Pair over three cards to a Straight Flush or four cards to a Straight.

If you are not dealt any of the above hands, basic Jacks or Better strategy will advise you to discard all cards and draw five new cards.

Jacks or Better: The Bottom Line

Jacks or Better is a simple and basic video poker variant. It is great for online video poker players looking to get their feet wet, learn the basics of betting, and looking to become more experienced at utilizing basic strategy in their play. It is by far the most played version of the game worldwide from the floors of Las Vegas to casinos in Australia, the UK and Ireland and even further afield.

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