Jacks or Better Video Poker was born thanks to a minor tweak - when the paytable of the first mass produced Video Poker game, Draw Poker, was slightly altered. Instead of two pairs, the lowest paying hand became a pair of Jacks or better, which increased the payouts and sent the popularity of Video Poker through the roof.
Jacks or Better was basically the first Video Poker game. Today, it's still the most popular amongst tens or hundreds of Video Poker games that have been created since.
In the game's full pay version, the return to player is 99.54%. The full pay version of a Video Poker game features a paytable with the highest theoretical return. Many land based or online casinos provide the same Video Poker game with different paytables – with payouts for some hand combinations decreased (and sometimes even some increased) in order to reach a lower overall return.
The full pay Video Poker game is also called "9-6" Jacks or Better, based on the payout for Full House and Flush. The full pay version of Jacks or Better Video Poker is not that easy to come by, but is available in casinos featuring Video Poker games from most games providers including Microgaming, Playtech and RTG.
Variance of Jacks or Better Video Poker
The theoretical payout or RTP tells only a part of the story about each Video Poker game. Another important figure to take into account when choosing which Video Poker game to play is the variance (volatility). According to variance, we can determine how wins are distributed, based on their amount. If the variance is high, it means that a lower number of high-amount-wins are more likely to occur. At low variance, it is the opposite - most wins are paid to the player in small prizes, and big wins are extremely rare.
The variance of Jacks or Better poker at 19.5 is one of the lowest available. That means that during your session, you will experience more frequent but mostly smaller wins.
Jacks or Better Strategy
If you want to get close to the 99.54% theoretical return, you have to make sure to master the Jacks or Better strategy. Check out our Video Poker strategy article for the Jacks or Better basic strategy table.
Those who would like to get even closer to the declared theoretical payout, should learn and master the optimal (perfect) Jacks or Better strategy, which will help them reach the aforementioned theoretical RTP figure.
Jacks or Better Optimal Strategy
This strategy will enable you to take full advantage of the 99.54% full pay version of Jacks or Better Video Poker.
|3||4 of a Kind|
|4||4 cards to Royal Flush|
|7||3 of a Kind|
|9||4 to Straight Flush Open Ended (Q high)|
|11||4 to Straight Flush Inside Draw|
|12||High Pair (Jacks or Better)|
|13||3 cards to Royal Flush|
|14||4 cards to Flush|
|15||10 J Q K|
|16||Low pair (22 - 10 10)|
|17||9 10 J Q|
|18||8 9 10 J|
|19||9 J Q suited|
|20||9 10 J suited|
|21||Open ended straight draw (10 highest)|
|22||8 J Q suited|
|23||3 to Straight Flush Open Ended (max 10)|
|24||9 Q K suited, 9 J K suited|
|25||9 10 Q , 8 10 J , 8 9 J all suited|
|26||J Q suited|
|27||J Q K A|
|28||J K suited, Q K suited|
|29||J A, Q A, K A all suited|
|30||4 to Straight Inside (3 high cards)|
|31||3 to Straight Flush 2 Gaps 1 High Card|
|32||3 to Straight Flush 1 Gap 0 High Card|
|35||10 J suited|
|37||10 Q suited|
|38||JA, QA, KA|
|39||10 K suited|
|44||3 to Straight Flush 2 Gaps 0 High Card|
As you can see, the optimal strategy is 3 times as long as the basic strategy. The mistakes that will occur because of the simplification of the basic strategy will cost you less than 0.1% in the long run. So, unless you are serious about mastering the optimal strategy, or have an extremely good memory, you will be fine with the basic Jacks or Better strategy.
Free Jacks or Better Online
An excellent way to learn how to play Jacks or Better and to practice strategy is to play free Jacks or Better online without registration or download required. Most casino games providers offer such an option, as well as Jacks or Better online games.
Another option is to start playing Video Poker games using free no deposit bonuses. However, make sure that Video Poker games (and particularly Jacks or Better) are allowed when playing with a bonus, as many online casinos restrict bonuses only to slot games. Also, check out the wagering requirements, which are often higher for Video Poker.