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How to Win at Jacks or Better Video Poker: Strategy and Cheat Sheet

There are countless online casino games available these days, but few can match the winning potential of video poker. Among the various game variants, Jacks or Better stands out as the best option for maximizing your returns. In this article, we will explore the basics of Jacks or Better strategy and provide you with a cheat sheet to enhance your gameplay.

Understanding Video Poker and the Effectiveness of Jacks or Better Strategy

Jacks or Better is a variation of five-card stud poker played in an arcade-style format. Unlike traditional poker, you play against the luck of the draw rather than competing against other players. In video poker, any hand that meets or exceeds a pair of jacks will earn you a cash reward based on the paytable.

By employing optimal strategy, you can reduce the house edge to just half a percent, which is comparable to blackjack. This means that your chances of winning are significantly higher compared to slots or other games of chance. The return to player (RTP) ratio for Jacks or Better is around 99.5%, while most slots typically range between 88% and 97%.

As a game of skill, mastering certain aspects of gameplay is crucial. To help you on your journey, we have put together this comprehensive guide. Make use of our expert tips and facts on Jacks or Better strategy to enhance your gaming experience.

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Discover the Top 4 Casinos to Test Your Jacks or Better Strategy

Finding an online casino that offers a wide selection of video poker games can be a challenge. To simplify the process, we’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations. These operators cater to various regions, with some even accepting players from the United States.

1. MyBookie Read Review

MyBookie bonus tab

2. BetOnline Read Review

Betlonine bonus tab

3. Las Atlantis Read Review

Las Atlantis bonus tab

4. BigSpinCasino: Read Review

BigSpinCasino bonus tab

Mastering the Basics of Jacks or Better Poker Hands

Before diving into advanced Jacks or Better strategy, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the basic poker hands that qualify in this game. You should also understand the payout multiplier associated with each hand.

Keep in mind that payouts may vary depending on the machine. For our purposes, we will use the 9/6 machine, where a full house pays out 9 coins. The RTP in this scenario stands at 99.54%.

Hand NameExamplePayoutDetails
PairJ ♥️, J♠️1:1Any two matching cards Jacks or Better
2 Pairs5 ♠️, 5♦️, 9♣️, 9♦️2:1Any two pairs in the same hand
3 of a KindA♠️, A♦️, A♣️3:1Three cards of the same value in your hand
Straight4♣️, 5♦️, 6♥️, 7♥️, 8♠️4:1All five cards in your hand run in sequence
Flush10♦️, Q♦️, 2♦️, 4♦️, 6♦️6:1All five cards in your hand have the same suit
Full HouseK♦️, K♣️, 6♠️, 6♥️, 6♦️9:1Combination of three of a kind and a pair
4 of a KindA♠️, A♦️, A♣️, A♥️25:1Four cards of the same value
Straight Flush5♠️, 6♠️, 7♠️, 8♠️, 9♠️50:1All five cards run in sequence and are of the same suit
Royal Flush10♥️, J♥️, Q♥️, K♥️, A♥️250:1Straight flush from 10 to Ace
Sequential Royal FlushFollows the same sequence as a Royal Flush4,000:1 or moreOnly available at select casinos

Essential Rules for Jacks or Better Strategy

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the various poker hands used in Jacks or Better video poker strategy, it’s time to dive into the gameplay. There are several important rules to keep in mind when playing this variant of video poker.

  • Deck Option: The game is played with a single deck of 52 cards, excluding jokers.
  • Pairs: All pairs must consist of two jacks or higher. A pair of tens or lower is not considered a valid hand.
  • Limits: Each machine clearly indicates the value of each credit when placing a bet. Play within your budget.
  • Wagers: You can choose to place one or five credits as your bet for the next round. The paytable will adjust accordingly.
  • Number of Cards: You will initially receive five cards to start the game.
  • Card Discards: You have the option to discard between 0 and all 5 cards. Our cheat sheet will assist you in making the best decision.
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With these rules in mind, you are ready to commence your game.

Exploring the Passage of Play in Jacks or Better Strategy

The passage of play in Jacks or Better video poker is straightforward and repetitive. Before you begin, ensure that you have enough credits in your account.

  1. Select your bet: Choose between 1 and 5 credits to wager.
  2. Click on “Deal”: Receive your initial 5 cards.
  3. Evaluate: Assess your hand for any potential poker rankings.
  4. Hold: Decide which cards to keep in your hand and proceed.
  5. Discard: Replace any cards not held with additional cards from the deck. Hopefully, this improves your hand’s value.
  6. Payout: The video poker machine automatically determines your rankings and pays out credits according to the paytable.

If you wish to play again, simply repeat the passage of play described above.

Top 3 Tips for Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

As experts in the iGaming and gambling industry, we have compiled a list of tips to enhance your gaming experience when playing video poker. Jacks or Better strategy is easy to remember, so make sure to thoroughly study this guide to optimize your gameplay.

Strategy with chess pieces

1. Choosing the Right Machine

Numerous Jacks or Better video poker variants are available, so it’s crucial to select a machine that offers the best returns. We highly recommend playing at a table with a 9/6 ratio. This ratio indicates the odds the machine pays on a full house, which, in this case, is 9:1.

Some casinos may offer tables with 7/5 or 6/5 ratios, which means you only receive 7 or 6 credits for a full house. It’s advisable to avoid these options.

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2. Low Pair and Straight Draw

This decision may arise multiple times during gameplay. Imagine you are dealt 7♦️, 7♠️, 8♠️, 9♥️, 10♥️. You are one card away from completing a straight, but your pair of sevens seems insignificant. However, the optimal strategy dictates that you discard the 8, 9, and 10, and keep the two sevens. Why? The chances of drawing the 6 or jack needed for an open-ended straight draw are 8 in 47. The payoff for this scenario is only 4:1. On the other hand, keeping the two sevens sets you up for two pairs, three of a kind, a possible four of a kind, and a full house. This option makes much more sense.

3. Low Pair and Flush Draw

Now, let’s consider a situation where you have a low pair and a flush draw, such as 7♦️, 7♠️, 8♦️, 9♦️, 2♦️. Here, a flush pays more than a straight at 6:1, and the chances of landing a suited card are higher. The optimal strategy would be to discard the 7♠️ and try to obtain another ♦️.

Utilize the Jacks or Better Cheat Sheet

While there isn’t a foolproof Jacks or Better strategy that guarantees a win on every hand, you can play optimally by using our Jacks or Better cheat sheet. This cheat sheet will guide you on which cards to retain and which to discard in various hand scenarios. (Click on the sheet to enlarge it)

Understanding Probability in Jacks or Better Strategy

To provide you with an idea of the return probability when playing Jacks or Better strategy, we have used the 9/6 machine payout structure. As you will notice, the higher the hand value, the less likely it is to occur. However, casinos offer higher payouts for these rankings.

Royal Flush2500.0000251.9807%
Straight Flush500.0001090.5465%
Four of a Kind250.0023635.9064%
Full House90.01151210.3610%
Three of a Kind30.07444922.3346%
Two Pair20.12927925.8558%
Jacks or Better Pair10.21458521.4585%
All other Pairs00.5454350.0000%


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