In the first edition of Exploring video poker games we take a deep dive into Jacks or better strategy and tips. Jacks or better strategy is one of the highest return to player ratio games in any casino offering around 99.5% return.

As you can already guess, in this series we will explore different video poker games from the most popular like Deuces Wild or Jacks or better to ones that you may not play as often like Build a Wheel Poker or Magic Deal Poker.

Video Poker: basic terms

As it is quite rare for a player without any poker knowledge to go into video poker strategy, we will assume you already know the basic rules of the game. Jacks or better strategy simply means that in order to have a winning hand, your five-card combination must be at least a pair of Jacks.

Simple enough, right?

In this article we will also use terms like:

  • Inside straight (one card to a straight, inside, outs – 4 cards in the deck ). For example, you would need a Jack in a hand when you hold x 10 Q K A.
  • Outside Straight (one card to a straight, open-ended, outs – 8 cards in a deck). In this case, you would be holding a hand such as x 10 J Q K and either a 9 or an Ace would give you a straight.
  • 4-flush (you need one card to make a flush, outs – 12 cards in the deck). You hold four cards of clubs, hearts, diamonds or spades.

Video Poker strategy: Jacks or Better strategy


This is where it gets tricky. In any video poker game there is a great deal of potential mistakes you can make.

In fact, discipline to hold on to a hand and when to draw is the most important part of the strategy.

Here’s what you must remember about the Jacks or Better strategy:

  • When holding one high card, draw four.
  • When holding two, unconnected high cards JAxxx, keep high cards, draw three.

These are the most common scenarios in video poker. The remaining 3 cards are worthless, even if they are connected and in suit.

  • When you hold a pair, low or high, keep onto it. The only reason not to keep the pair is when the rest of the cards connect in an outside straight flush draw. Not a straight draw or a flush draw. The same applies to 3 of a kinds and four of a kinds.
  • When you hold three high cards, keep the two connected (like JQ in xxJQA).
  • When you hold three high cards with a 3-flush, keep high cards for the straight.
  • When you hold a 4-flush, always keep the suited cards. Even in cases of outside straight.

There are two exceptions:

  • 4-flush with 3 to royal flush, go for the royal flush.
  • 4-flush with a made straight, hold.

That’s pretty much all you need to know now about playing Jacks or better video poker. There are more in-depth strategies that can help you increase the payout rate by 0.5% but for now should start practicing and get used to making the correct decisions.