Jacks or Better Video Poker Rules

editor Poker Games

The player aims to get the best hand possible. The payoffs are marked right on the face of the Video Poker machine. Betting is pretty straightforward. On any given machine you can typically choose $0.25, $0.50, $1, or $5 games. And the bets are 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x (or maximum bet) whichever game you’re playing. So if you’re playing a $1 game, you can place bets of $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5.

If you bet 5 coins, all winning hands are paid out multiplied by a factor of 5, except for the royal flush. This is a bonus amount designed as an incentive to play five coins. And those players who play less than maximum coins are setting up the best payoffs for those who do.

The first thing to note is that the game face shows you the payoff for each betting level. Invariably playing maximum bet pays off better, overall, than any of the lower multiples. Smart players pick the betting level they are comfortable with and choose their card game accordingly.

So, if you are comfortable with a $5 bet, then pick a $1 machine and play at maximum bet for $5. In either case, you are getting the best payoff odds you can for that game.

It is very important to know that the payoff ratios vary from game to game. Jacks or Better may pay 25:1 for Four Of A Kind. These ratios do not necessarily reflect the true odds, so knowing your game helps you play smarter.

Pay Schedules
In a grouping of video poker machines, known as banks or carousels, all of which may look exactly the same, casinos will often ‘mix-in’ several video poker machines with inferior pay programs (short/partial pay). Most often in such a bank of regular non-progressive, non-bonus VP machines, only 1 or 2 may be the Jacks or better 9/6 (nine coins for a full house, and 6 coins for a flush), while the rest are 8/5, 7/5, or even worse, 6/5.

This means that one player, on the 9/6 machine, will be winning more for the same hands than the other players. A 9/6 VP will generally hit the royal flush each 40,000 hands played, or every 80-100 hours of play, while the 8/5 each 45,000 hands, on average; the 7/5’s each 50,000 hands; and the 6/5’s only once about each 70,000 hands played.


Keep any hand that already pays. Possible exceptions, in decreasing value, are:

Hold four card Royal Flushes to make Straights or Flushes.
Four card straight flushes, inside or outside.
High card Pairs rank here.
Three card Royal Flushes.
Four card Flushes.
Low Pairs rank here, trying to build Three Of A Kind.
Four card Flushes.
Four card Straights. Hold inside Straights only if you’ve got three or more high cards (J, Q, K, A).

Follow this general strategy in order of preference:

Keep any two suited high cards. Discard unsuited high cards.

Four mixed-suit high cards:
-keep any three suited, toss the unsuited.
-otherwise, keep them all.
Three unsuited high cards:
-keep all three of K-Q-J.
-with A-K-J or A-Q-J, discard the A.
Keep any two unsuited high cards.
Keep any single high card.

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