Simple Jacks or Better Video Poker StrategyBy: Fabian Rictor, Thursday April 22nd 2010
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Jacks or Better is the most common and most popular variant of video poker found at online casinos. It is so named because the pay table begins with a pair of jacks or a higher pair. Several strategies have been formulated for winning at Jacks or Better. These generally provide returns between 99.45% and 99.55%. What this means in practical terms is that players who follow the best strategy can expect to be better off by only 10 cents for every $100 wagered as compared to players who follow the simplest strategy. Therefore it makes sense to avoid memorizing complex rules and follow the easy to understand steps involving the simple strategy, especially for new players.
The first part of the simple strategy outlines steps to be taken when the player is holding a certain number of cards to a royal flush. If he is holding four cards to a royal flush then the fifth card must be discarded even if it is contributing to a paying combination. An example is if the hand contains nine, ten, Jack, Queen and King of hearts, the player must break the straight flush and discard the nine of hearts. If the player is holding three cards to a royal flush in such a manner that he also has a paying combination, then he should hold on to the paying combination. For example if he holds three, ten, Jack and Queen of hearts and Queen of spades he should hold the two Queens and discard the remaining cards. If the player is holding three cards to a royal flush in such a manner that he does not have a paying combination, then he should hold on to the three cards to a royal flush. For example if he holds three, ten, Jack and Queen of hearts and three of spades he should hold the ten, Jack and Queen of hearts and discard the remaining cards.
The second part of the simple strategy deals with hands that do not have any paying combinations. These hands are also referred to as unmade hands. In such hands players should hold cards to make the following combinations in descending order: four to a royal flush, four to a straight flush, three to a royal flush, four to of flush, low pairs, four to a straight, three to a straight flush, two to a royal flush, two unpaired cards higher than Jack and one card higher than Jack. Low pairs are a pair of tens or lower, which do not figure in the payout table for Jacks or Better. If none of these combinations can be made then the player should discard all five cards.
The final advice to players of Jacks or Better is never to break a winning hand except in two cases. The first case has already been covered in the part of the strategy that discusses four cards to a royal flush. The second exception is that four cards to a straight flush is preferred over a jacks or better pair. This strategy has been based on the probabilities of getting paying combinations starting from the cards that are to be retained and on the payouts of those paying combinations.
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