Jacks or Better Video Poker Guide for 2024

Jacks or Better Video Poker Guide for 2024

Jacks or Better is among the oldest and most popular video poker variants available at online casinos. It combines the excitement of slots with the element of skill required for poker.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about how to play Jacks or Better, including the rules, odds, and payout structure. We also provide expert tips on optimizing your gameplay and increasing your winning potential.

What is Jacks or Better?

Jacks or Better is a video poker game in which players don’t play against other people or live dealers but rather a machine. The payout depends on your hand ranking, with the lowest winning hand being a Pair of Jacks.

This video poker variation was one of the earliest to be developed and was released in the 1980s. It quickly gained popularity as it is simple to learn and has one of the highest RTPs compared to other games. By using tips for playing video poker and a simple strategy at online video poker casinos in the US, you could find yourself walking away with some pretty impressive wins.

How Jacks or Better Poker Works

Jacks or Better is incredibly easy to pick up if you’ve played other poker variations before. Even if you are new to poker, it’s still a straightforward game to learn. It’s played with a standard 52-card deck and your payout depends on the strength of your hand.

To begin, you will need to select the amount of your bet. Once you’ve done this, you will be dealt 5 cards. You then have the option of holding up to five of your cards. Any cards you do not hold are then replaced with random cards from the deck and make up your final hand.

You must have at least a Pair of Jacks or Better to win. This is the lowest-ranked hand that is a winner and has a payout of x1. The stronger your hand, the higher the payout, with the largest payout being x800 for the best hand in poker, a Royal Flush.

Jacks or Better Hand Rankings

Jacks or Better Hands Explained

Understanding the winning Jacks or Better hands and those that have the potential to turn into winning hands is essential. Below, you’ll find the winning hand rankings and those with good potential to turn into winning hands after drawing.

Hand Rankings

These are the winning hands in Jacks or Better, from the lowest ranking (Pair) to the highest ranking (Royal Flush).

  • High Pair: A Pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces.

  • Two Pair: Two separate Pairs, for example, K-K and 7-7.

  • Three of a Kind: Three of the same cards, for example, 8-8-8.

  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of 2 or more suits. For example, 3-4-5-6-7.

  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit.

  • Full House: Three of a Kind and a Pair, for example, K-K and 4-4-4.

  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same value, for example, 9-9-9-9.

  • Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.

  • Royal Flush: 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit.

Potential Winning hands

These are not winning hands and will not pay out if they are your final hand. However, they have the potential to become strong winning hands based on the cards you draw.

  • Four to a Straight Flush: When you have four of the five cards needed for a Straight Flush.

  • Three to a Royal Flush: When you have four of the five cards needed to make a Royal Flush.

  • Four to a Flush: When you have four cards of the same suit.

  • Four to a Straight: When you have four of the five cards to make a Straight.

  • Three to a Straight: When you have three of the five cards to make a Straight.

  • Two to a Royal Flush: When you have two of the five cards to make a Royal Flush.

Jacks or Better Odds & Payouts

These are the Jacks or Better odds and payouts for a 9/6 game played with five coins. This is the most popular and commonly found variation of the game at new online casinos.

Hand Payout Odds
High Pair (Jacks or Better) x1 1 in 7.69
Two Pair x2 1 in 21
Three-of-a-Kind x3 1 in 47
Straight x4 1 in 255
Flush x6 1 in 509
Full House x9 1 in 694
Four of a Kind x25 1 in 4,165
Straight Flush x50 1 in 72,193
Royal Flush x800 1 in 649,740

How to Play the Jacks or Better Game

When you’re ready to play Jacks or Better video poker, you’ll find that the game is available at both desktop and mobile casinos. Once you’ve selected the Jacks or Better machine, the first thing you need to do is select your stake.

In this game, the stake is represented by coins. You can play with 1-5 coins, but it’s always best to play with 5 coins as it increases the payout of certain hands. The coins had a set value in old machines, but most modern machines let you set the coin’s value.

For example, if you want to bet $2.50 a hand, you should set the coin value to $0.50 and then select 5 coins, as this will be a $2.50 stake (5 x $0.50).

Once this is all set, press the “Deal” button and you will receive five cards. Click on the cards you want to hold, and then click on “Draw”. This will replace the cards you did not hold and give you your final hand. You can simply click on the Deal button again to play again for the same stake.

Jacks or Better Gameplay

Jacks or Better Poker Double Up Gamble Feature

After winning a hand in the Jacks or Better game, there are some variants that offer a double-up feature that gives you the chance to double or even quadruple your winnings.

After you have won, you can choose to collect or gamble. If you collect, you receive your Jacks or Better payout in your wallet and can choose to either walk away with your winnings or carry on playing. However, if you gamble, you will be presented with facedown cards with the option of red or black.

If you correctly guess the color, your winnings are doubled. You lose the full payout from your winning hand if you are incorrect. On some machines, the gamble feature works a bit differently.

Instead of choosing red, black, or suits, you are presented with one face-up card, which is the dealer’s, and four face-down cards. You then select one of four face-down cards, and if your card is higher than the dealer’s, your payout is doubled.

Jacks or Better Double Up Gamble Feature

Jacks or Better Strategy

Using a Jacks or Better video poker strategy, you can increase the RTP to approximately 99.54%, one of the highest RTPs you will find on any casino game. Knowing when to hold or discard Pairs is an integral part of a Jacks or Better strategy.

High Pair

A High Pair (Jacks or higher) is guaranteed money, so you should keep it in almost all instances. Here are some examples of when you may be tempted to break your High Pair for the chance at a better hand, but you shouldn’t:

  • If you have a Four to a Flush and a high pair you should keep the pair and redraw the other three cards.

  • If you have a Four to a Straight (either inside or outside straight draw), you should keep the pair and redraw the three other cards.

Although it’s almost always a bad idea to break a high pair, there is one scenario where you should break your high pair. You should break the high pair and redraw one card if you have Four to a Royal Flush.

The chance of hitting the card you need is 46 to 1, which is a 2.16% chance of happening. Yet the payout of a Royal Flush is 800 to 1, which has implied odds of 0.12%, so the potential reward is well worth the risk at this point.

Low Pair

Unlike a High Pair, a Low Pair (10 or lower) is not a winning hand. However, there are scenarios where it is still worth keeping the Low Pair, such as the two below:

  • If you have four to a Straight, you should keep the low pair and redraw the three other cards.

  • If you have three to a Straight Flush, you should keep the low pair and redraw the other three cards.

There are instances where it is smart Jacks or Better strategy to discard the Low Pair in hopes of drawing cards to give you a strong hand.

  • If you have three or four to a Royal Flush, you should keep those three or four cards and redraw the others.

  • If you have four to a Flush, you should discard the low pair and redraw the card, but not in the potential flush. For example, with a 4♥,4♦,5♦,10♦,J♦, 4♦, 4♥, 5♦, 10♦,J♦ you should redraw the 4♥.

  • If you have four to a Straight Flush, you should discard the low pair and redraw the card not in the potential straight Flush. For example, with a 6♠,6♥,7♠,8♠,9♠, you should redraw the 6♥.

Pro Jacks or Better Tips

Unlike many other casino games, Jacks or Better involves an element of skill and isn’t 100% chance-based. While it is more luck-based than other forms of poker, like Texas Hold’em, players can implement a Jacks or Better poker strategy to increase their win rate. Here are our top Jacks or Better tips that will help you optimize your gameplay.

Keep a Winning HandKnow When to Keep High CardsPlay for FreeAlways Play With Five CoinsDon't Push Your Luck

Keep a Winning Hand

One of the most important tips for playing video poker is that 99.9% of the time if you have a winning hand, you should keep it. Sometimes, people want to risk paying hands like a High Pair to chase a stronger hand like a Straight or Flush in the hopes of a bigger payout.

However, the only time when it is a good strategy to do this in Jacks or Better is if you have four of the five cards to make a Royal Flush. In all other instances, players should keep any paying hand.

Know When to Keep High Cards

One of the key elements of learning how to play video poker Jacks or Better is knowing when you should keep or discard High Cards. We recommend keeping High Cards in the following situations:

  • You have no pair and no potential draw.

  • You have two different High Cards. For example, K♠, Q♠, 7♦, 5♣, 2♠. Here, you should keep the K♠, Q♠ and withdraw the other three.

  • When you have a High Card and a Low Pair. For example, 5♠, 5♦, K♠, 8♣, 2♠. Keep the 5♠, 5♦, K♠.

  • When you have three High Cards.For example, Q♠, J♦, K♠, 5♣, 2♠, keep Q♠, J♦, K♠ and redraw the other 2.

It’s better to discard your High Card in these scenarios:

  • You have three to a Royal Flush, and one High Card is not part of the potential Royal Flush. For example A♠, K♦,Q♠, J♠, 7♦. Here you would discard the K♦ and the 7♦.

  • You have a Low Pair with no suited high cards. For example, 8♦, 8♠, Q♣, 4♥, 3♣. Keep the Low Pair and redraw Q♣, 4♥, 3♣.

Play for Free

Lots of top online casinos offer free video poker Jacks or Better. When you first start, you should utilize these demo versions to get to grips with the game, understand all of the hand rankings, Jack or Better rules, and practice a basic strategy.

You should also take advantage of casino bonuses. Many sites provide very generous welcome packages, and you can use this bonus money to play the game without risking your own money but still have the opportunity to win real money.

Always Play With Five Coins

The reason you should play with 5 coins is that, like with many online casino slots, the payout you receive from video poker increases with each coin you use. For example, if you are using 1 coin at a 9/6 machine, the payout for a royal flush is x250, but if you use 5 coins, it’s x800.

Although Royal Flushes are rare, if you play with less than 5 coins, you lose a huge amount of money if it hits. It’s always better to play on a machine with a lower stake than to play with less than 5 coins. If you only have $1.50 max to play each hand, play on a machine with a $0.25 stake per coin and use 5 coins for $1.25 per hand rather than play at a $0.50 stake machine with 3 coins for $1.50.

Don’t Push Your Luck

As we mentioned earlier, many Jacks or Better casinos offer the gamble double-up feature. There’s nothing wrong with using this feature but use it wisely. If you have anything above Three of a Kind, it’s best to stick with what you already have.

Pros and Cons of Playing

There are several variations of video poker games at online casinos. Although Jacks or Better is an excellent variant to play, there are a few downfalls that should be considered. Here is a breakdown of a few pros and cons you can expect to find.


  • Has an RTP of up to 99.54%

  • Can be found at most online casinos

  • Simples to play & implement a strategy

  • Has a low volatility compared to some other variations


  • No wild cards like in Joker Poker

  • Doesn’t have bonus payouts like in Double Bonus Poker

Other Useful Guides for Video Poker Players

The Bottom Line

Now you know the answer to “What is Jacks or Better?” and have a better idea about how to play it, you’re all set to try the game out for yourself. The good news is that plenty of US casinos offer this video poker variant. However, our favorite for this game specifically has to be Wild Casino.

Here, you will be able to kickstart your gambling fun with a generous welcome bonus. There are also a handful of variants available, such as Jacks or Better Multihand and single hand Bonus Jacks or Better.

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Responsible Gambling

Gambling addiction is a very serious issue. It can lead to financial problems and cause a strain on relationships with loved ones. It can also severely impact mental health and cause depression. This is why it’s essential to practice responsible gambling whenever betting or playing casino games. Here are some useful resources for information, advice, or help with gambling addiction.