Jacks Or Better

jacks or better online

“Jacks Or Better” is a fast-paced and extremely fun video poker game found at most online casinos.

It is the oldest video poker game and is the game that truly started the video poker craze we see today.

Many people love to play Jacks Or Better because it has an insane RTP (return to player) percentage of 99.54%. You can’t find a game with better RTP percentages out there!

This guide will give you all you need to know about Jacks Or Better and where you can play this exciting video poker game!

Play Jacks Or Better Poker At Top Online Casinos

If you’re wondering where you can play Jacks Or Better at a reliable and safe online casino, we have your back.

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What Is Jacks Or Better?

Jacks Or Better is the original form of video poker where you are presented with five cards, and you must sort through it to strategically formulate the best possible poker hand.

It’s a fast-paced game with a great RTP %, making it one of the best choices for those looking to build a bankroll quickly.

Jacks or Better is also one of the easiest standard video games to play at a high strategy level, and it is ideal to learn because its general principles will apply to many types of other video poker games.

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How To Play Jacks Or Better Video Poker

Once you get used to Jacks Or Better and its rules, it’ll be easy for you to play the game.

By knowing the rules, you’ll be able to play the game without hesitation!

Poker Jacks Or Better Rules

  1. Place Your Wager: Your wager is translated into coins in Jacks Or Better, we advise you to double-check the conversion rate on the specific game you’re playing.
  2. Receive Your Cards: You’ll receive five cards face up. It’s at this point you should start thinking about which cards you should discard.
  3. Sort Through Your Hand: Discard the cards that don’t benefit your winning chances (see the strategy guide and paytables). Once you discard, you’ll get new ones – this will now be your final hand, and you will be paid out according to the paytable.
  4. Receive Your Winnings: The AI will automatically calculate your winnings. If you’re playing multiple hands, then you may be in for a huge payday, depending on what hands you get!

How To Win At Jacks Or Better Poker

Although Jacks Or Better is indeed a game of luck, there is a bit of strategy involved to maximize your potential winnings.

Seeing as there is a choice to be made when you receive your five cards, what you choose to discard will significantly impact how much you win. 

Jacks Or Better Strategy To Win

There is something called “optimal strategy” for Jacks Or Better, and it’s relatively similar to blackjack’s optimal strategy.

This hand-rank table will guide you to choose the best strategy to play with any given initial hand, providing you which cards to hold or discard.

If none of the ranks applies to your playing hand, then you should discard all five cards.

The table below is extrapolated from an extensive study on Jacks’s Or Better optimal strategy.

Check it out for an easy-to-understand format on what is the best way to play Jacks Or Better.

Rank Initial Hand Description Discard Strategy
15-RFRoyal Flush DealtNo discard needed
25-SFStraight Flush DealtNo discard needed
35-4KFour of a Kind DealtNo discard needed
44-RFFour to a Royal FlushDiscard one card
55-FHFull House DealtNo discard needed
65-FFlush DealtNo discard needed
73-3KThree of a KindKeep three of a kind, discard two
85-SStraight DealtNo discard needed
94-SFFour to a Straight FlushDiscard one card
104-2PTwo pairKeep two pair, discard the rest
112-HPHigh pairKeep the pair, discard the rest
124-FFour to a Royal FlushDiscard one card
133-RFThree to a Royal FlushKeep the key cards, discard the rest
144-F : AHTx + K, Q, J, or TFour to a FlushKeep the key cards, discard the last
154-S: KQJTUnsuited KQJ10Keep high card, discard the rest
162-LPLow pairKeep pair, discard the rest
174-S: 5432 – QJT9Four to an Outside Straight with 02 High Cards
183-SF: s + h >= 3Three to a Straight FlushKeep key cards, discard the rest
194-S :AKQJ if QJ fp or 9pFour to a Straight FlushKeep key cards, discard the rest
202-RF: QJSuited QJKeep QJ
214-S: AKQJFour to an Inside StraightKeep key cards, discard the rest
222-RF: KH, AHSuited KQ or KJKeep KQ or KJ, discard the rest
233-SF: s + h = 2, no spSuited AK, KQ, or AJKeep necessary cards, discard the rest
244-S:AHHT or KQJ9Four to an Inside Straight, Three High CardsKeep key cards, discard the rest
253-SF: s + h = 2Three to a Straight Flush (type 2)Keep key cards, discard the rest
263-S: KQJUnsuited KQJKeep high card, discard the rest
272-S: QJUnsuited QJKeep high card, discard the rest
282-S: KJ if JT fpSuited J10Keep J10, discard the rest
292-RF: JTTwo to a Royal Flush, J10Keep key cards, discard the rest
302-S: KHTwo Unsuited High Cards, King HighestKeep relevant cards, discard the rest
312-S: AQ if QT fpSuited Q10Keep high card, discard the rest
322-RF: QTTwo to a Royal Flush, Q10Keep key cards, discard the rest
332-RF: AHTwo Unsuited High Cards, Ace HighestKeep Ace, discard the rest
341-RF: K if KT fp and 9spOne to Royal Flush, KingKeep King, discard the rest
352-RF: KTSuited K10Keep key cards, discard the rest
361-RF: A,K,Q, or JOne to Royal Flush, Ace, King, Queen or JackKeep King, Q,Ace or Jack, discard the rest
373-SF: s + h = 1Three to a straight flush (type 3)Keep key cards, discard the rest

Strategy Abbreviation Key
  • A, K, Q, J, T denote Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten respectively. 
  • High card is any A, K, Q, or J. 
  • If multiple cards are italicized, it means that they are of the same suit. 
  • s is the number of straight that can be made from your playing hand regardless of the suit, and h denotes the number of high cards in the hand that you decide to hold in accordance with the strategy. 
  • fp, sp, and 9sp stand for flush penalty, straight penalty, and 9 straight penalty card. 
  • hp represents high card penalty card and shp represents penalty card that is both sp and hp. nsp, nhp, nshp (n=number) refer to the number of specified penalty cards.

Penalty Cards

Penalty cards are discarded cards that actively hurt your chances of getting a good payout.

For example, suppose you have the opportunity to get a flush but discard cards that hurt your chances of getting it. In that case, that’s a “flush penalty card,” according to John Jungtae Kim’s analysis of Jack’s Or Better strategy.

Jacks Or Better Cheat Sheet

Below is our cheat sheet that was derived from Jacks Or Better optimal strategy and J. J. Kim’s analysis. You can use it when playing Jacks Or Better – no need to be afraid of having this out!

It’s not cheating as it’s simply a suggestion of strategy.

The study found when the optimal strategy is executed, the expected return significantly improves or the net gain is closer to breaking even.

jacks or better strategy cheat sheet

The hand-rank table will guide you to choose a strategy that maximizes expected payout.

We can expect that the odds of lower-paying hands will contribute to ones of higher-paying hands as their potential to be qualified for higher-paying hands is realized by allowing better discards under optimal play.

The “Expected Return Per Hand” chart represents the contribution of each hand to the overall expected payout in Jacks or Better under optimal play strategy.

The chart shows the ratio of change in probability from pre-draw hand to the correct play under optimal strategy for each hand.

A horizontal line is drawn to indicate a ratio of one, the point at which optimal play does not improve the expected return.

Any paying hands that are above the dotted horizontal line, which is all the paying hands, are improved.

For example, the probability of royal flush improves by a factor of 16 and all the higher paying hands (full house and up) are improved by more than a factor of 5.

Tips For Playing Jacks Or Better

  • If you have four cards to a straight or a flush, hold all four of them and discard the fifth unrelated card.
  • If you have most of the cards for a royal flush, you should take a chance and keep them all to try and get a royal flush payout.
  • If you have a pair, hold the pair and discard the three extra cards.
  • If you don’t have any playable hand, hold a Jack or higher. If you don’t have any face cards, discard them all.

Jacks Or Better Pay Table

If you’re a newcomer, you’ll see that there are different versions of Jacks Or Better called “9/6” or “9/5,” and you might be confused.

Those ratios refer to the pay table differences, specifically revolving around the “full house” and “flush” hands.

Most casinos host 9/6 Jacks Or Better, but it’s not uncommon to see worse payouts like 9/5. 

9/6 Jacks Or Better

9/6 Payout Jacks Or Better is the “full version” of the game, as it has the best payouts you’ll be able to find.

Most online casinos host 9/6 Jacks Or Better as a standard, but it’s not uncommon to see other versions that pay less.

Royal Flush800
Straight Flush50
Four of a Kind25
Full House9
Three of a Kind3
Two Pair2
Pair (Jacks or Better)1

Other Jacks Or Better Variants

There are other variants you may also run into. All these Jacks Or Better variants use the same payout table but with certain hand payout differences that can impact your potential winnings. Take a look at the details below:

9/5 Jacks Or Better

The only difference between 9/6 Jacks Or Better and 9/5 is that the “flush” payout is 1 coin less than in 9/6. Flushes are reasonably common in Jacks Or Better, so this is a definitive downgrade.

8/6 Jacks Or Better

In 8/6 Jacks Or Better, a “full house” pays x8 coins, and a “flush” pays x6. This pay table is almost the same as 9/5 Jacks Or Better in terms of ranking.

8/5 Jacks Or Better

8/5 Jacks Or Better is a further downgrade from 8/6. Here, the “flush” pays x5 coins. Once again, seeing as flushes are rather common in Jacks Or Better, this is a certain downgrade.

7/5 Jacks Or Better

From here on, you should be actively avoiding Jacks Or Better that pay this low. Having a payout of x7 on a “full house” is relatively low and not worth playing.

6/5 Jacks Or Better

6/5 Jacks Or Better is the worst version of the game out there – once again, you should try to actively avoid this version as much as you can.

Here, the “full house” pays a measly x6 coins and is definitely not worth your time or money.

If your casino doesn’t have a better paying Jack Or Better game, we recommend you check some of our recommended online casinos out.

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Start Playing Jacks or Better For Real Money Today!

Jacks Or Better is a staple in all online casinos and is a real favorite among players.

The insanely high RTP of 99.54% is attractive as it gives you a great chance to build your bankroll. There’s also always the potential to win big with a royal flush! 

If you’re interested in playing Jacks Or Better for real money but don’t know where to, then our recommended casinos are for you.

Make sure you apply the welcome bonus code on your first deposit for maximum value if you’re a newcomer!

Feel free to use the cheat sheet in this article to climb your way to massive riches.