The clue is in the name: Jacks or Better pays out for any hand that includes at least a pair of Jacks. It is often referred to as Draw Poker because players draw against the dealer, rather than competing against other players. As the basis for many other variants, Jacks or Better is considered to be the best for those new to video poker.
Jacks or Better also happens to be the most popular variant of video poker on the market. Almost all top video poker suppliers offer some form of the original favorite, Jacks or Better. Additional games and even online slots offshoots have been created around this timeless game.
Jacks or Better has a number of variations, which differ only in the payout for certain hands. The most common game is technically known as Full Pay Jacks or Better, or 9/6 Jacks or Better, because the payout for a full house is nine times the initial wager, and six times for a flush. The different pay scales change between software providers and casinos, but lower payout options can include the following:
In all styles of Jacks or Better, players are dealt five cards and choose which to hold and which to discard, replacing the discarded cards with new cards from the same pack. The ultimate goal is to create the best hand from five cards. The order of hands, from highest to lowest, is as follows:
As with most online video poker games, players are given the choice to play one hand, or many hands (if they are feeling bold) at the same time, usually up to a maximum of 100 hands at any one time.
Success in Jacks or Better video poker is simply about making the most of the cards dealt. Unlike Texas Hold'em that is very popular in online poker, there are no opportunities to bluff, and no other players to read – it simply comes down to choosing the right cards to hold.
The ultimate goal is to achieve a royal flush, but the odds of this happening are very slim. Unlike some slot machines, video poker programs aren't set to deliver maximum bonuses at set intervals of play – video poker programs use random number generators to deal cards.
This means that the true odds of being dealt a royal flush are 650,000/1, and the odds of making a royal flush after the draw are 40,000/1. Because the odds are so slim, it's considered wise to keep any winning hand, rather than breaking smaller winning hands up in pursuit of larger payouts.
Hitting Jacks or Better has odds of 5/1 and, while it only pays out 1/1, sticking to small wins like this can prove to be a lucrative and optimal strategy in the long run. If players find themselves with no winning hand, a recommended strategy is to keep face cards and discard the rest.
"A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade."