How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker

Basic Rules for Video Poker Machines

Video poker has several variants, but the oldest is Jacks or Better, also known as Draw Poker. Is a great game and easy to play if you already know how to play five-card draw poker. It has an element of skill in addition to luck, compared with the pure luck of playing slot machines. Your chances of winning are improved if you use a good strategy to play the machine.

Rules for Jacks or Better Video Poker

The rules for Jacks or Better video poker are the same as for five-card draw poker. However, there is no raising or bluffing and you're not really playing "against" other players. You just make a single bet at the beginning and your goal is to have a hand that includes a pair of jacks or better. Otherwise, the house wins.

  • To play, you select a number of credits you want to wager from one to five on the hand. The credits can be worth $0.25, $1 or more apiece, depending on the machine.
  • The computer deals you five cards and you select which you want to keep and which you want to discard to draw new cards, just as in five-card draw.
  • Then you are dealt replacement cards and your final hand decides whether you win or lose, and how much.
  • You will win more the better your hand is, so make sure you know the ranking of poker hands.

Like all games you play against the house in a casino, it is nearly impossible to actually win in the long term. However, video poker offers some of the best payouts for a slots-type machine when played well. In fact, when combined with a good casino comp schedule, you can actually make a profit due to the freebies given out.

Tips for Playing Jacks or Better Video Poker

Your game will be improved by using a strategy chart prepared by expert players according to the rules of probability. You can buy a strategy card at many casino gift shops or use a chart from an online site. These charts will show you how many cards to hold or discard based on what you are dealt in your initial video poker hand.

For example:

  • Draw four cards if you have only one high card.
  • Draw three cards if you have any pair.
  • Draw two cards if you have three of a kind or three cards to a straight flush
  • Draw one card if you have four of a kind, two pairs, or four cards to a straight or flush.
  • Do not draw any cards if you have a straight, flush, full house, straight flush, or royal straight flush.

Those are tips you likely already guessed. It is for the hands in between where a strategy chart can help guide you.

You can also practice playing Jacks or Better online or with a mobile app to hone your game. By practicing and consulting a strategy chart, you will be able to remember the best selections to make for each starting hand. This will improve your odds of winning at video poker.

Edited by Adam Stemple, December 2015