Jacks or Better Strategy

Playing Strategy for Winning at Jacks or Better Video Poker

When playing jacks or better video poker, only the ranking of the hands is the same as in table poker. Since the game is played on a machine, your only objective is to get the best-paying hand. J or B is the original video poker game. Once you’ve mastered this game, all other variations of video poker will be much easier to undertstand and to learn.

The computerized machine deals a five card hand. You may keep or throw away as many cards as you like by activating the appropriate button underneath each card. After selecting the card(s) you want to hold or discard, press or click on “deal/draw.” The cards you didn’t want to keep are replaced with new cards. If the new hand consists of a winning combination, you get paid.

JACKS OR BETTER STRATEGY hand rankings and pay-outs:

The winning hands and pay-outs for Jacks or Better, from highest to lowest are:

  • Royal Flush – A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit. It’s the highest-paying hand in poker and occurs, on average, once every 40,000 hands. Pays 4,000 or more coins when five coins are bet. Pays only 250 coins for each of 1 to 4 coins bet.
  • Straight Flush – Five consecutive cards in the same suit, for instance 8, 9, 10, J and Q. Pays 50 per coin bet.
  • Four of a Kind – A hand with four cards of the same value, such as four Nines. Pays 25 per coin bet.
  • Full House – Three cards of one value, and two cards of another value, like three Fives and two Kings. Pays 9 per coin bet.
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, in no particular order. Pays 6 per coin bet.
  • Straight – Any five consecutive cards, such as J, 10, 9, 8 and 7, but not in the same suit. Pays 4 per coin bet.
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value, three Sevens for instance. Pays 3 per coin bet.
  • Two Pair – A hand containing two pairs, such as two Tens and two Aces. Pays 2 per coin bet.
  • Pair of Jacks or Better – A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces makes up the lowest paying hand – returns your bet.

See our Jacks Or Better Hands page for a visual guide to the various poker hand ranks.

A game with the above pay table is called “full pay”. The long-term return is 99.54% with perfect play. Avoid “short-pay” jacks or better machines, those that pay less than the numbers shown above.

When playing jacks or better strategy, analyze every hand carefully, then select the first option on the list that applies to the hand you were dealt. Don’t rush – take your time, the machine will patiently wait for you to make your decision. Hold all paying hands you’re dealt, except break up a lesser paying hand if you get four cards to a royal flush. When you’re dealt non-paying hands, jacks or better strategy dictates you check for the following and hold accordingly:

  • Hold any four cards to a straight flush.
  • Hold any three cards to a royal flush.
  • Hold any four cards to a flush.
  • Hold any low pair (tens or lower).
  • Hold any four-card consecutive straight.
  • Hold any two high cards of the same suit.
  • Hold any three cards to a straight flush.
  • Hold J, Q, and K of different suites.
  • Hold any two high cards of different suites.
  • Hold J, Q or K with a Ten of the same suit.
  • Hold any single high card.
  • If you didn’t get dealt any of the above, draw five new cards.

Tip: Print these jacks or better strategies and refer to them while playing online