Playing Wild Card Hands in Kings or Better Joker PokerBy: Mark Freedman, Thursday January 29th 2015
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Joker Poker is very atypical in the video poker world for having three main types of paytables that are all considered standard. You can play a kings or better, aces or better, or two pair plus paytable with this game, and that means that learning the right strategies will depend on which of the particular formats you're playing. The kings or better version is pretty important to learn because the strategies you learn in this version can apply directly to the other two types with very minor tweaks, so we're going to look at a few key hands here where you have a wild card in your hand.
Start with XKh7h5h8c where the X is the joker. Your main options here are the flush draw or keeping the pair of kings. As it happens, the flush draw is going to be worth a bit more with an average payout of 2.021x while the big pair only gives you 1.687x. What's important to note is that there's a third option that comes close to being the best option with a three-card straight flush draw if you keep 7hX5h, and that gives a 1.661x payout on average. Note that if the two singletons were consecutive like 7h6hX that it would be a stronger play than the single pair.
A slightly different hand is XKhTh4h3c. Again, you'll think your two options are the flush draw or the high pair, and again, the flush draw is better. However, what most players will miss is that neither of these is the best option overall. Instead, you can go with the three-card royal with XKhTh since you get to keep the big pair while also having chances to make some great runner hands. This has a payout of 2.051x on average.
Our final instructional hand is XKsQhTd4c. What you'll see here is that you have an option to go with a big pair or an open-ended straight draw. You should also note that no three-card royal with the pair of kings is available. The big pair is only slightly stronger than the straight draw here with a 1.693x payout compared to a 1.688x win. Pay attention to the differences in these three hands and study these examples, and you'll build up a much bigger understanding of how to play some of the most difficult hands that can come up in this game.
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