Jacks or Better Poker Strategy
When considering strategies it is vitally important that you have a clear idea of the aims of the game, and exactly what it is that you can do to effect the achievement of those aims. In the case of Jacks or Better video poker you can affect the bets you make in terms of the sums, and you have one chance of affecting your cards through the one "draw" round. The decision that you make on the draw round should be a result of careful consideration of the possibilities you have. One of the advantages of playing a machine game is that you can take your time to figure out what you have, no-one is waiting on you and the machine isn't going anywhere.
Thus the first stage of Jacks or Better poker strategy is knowing the possible hands and their payouts. If you are confident that you have internalized this information you can look at the following strategies which dictate exactly what you should do in set situations.
Hand Playing Strategy in Jacks and Better Poker
Strategy number one in jacks or better is never break up a paying hand for the hope of a better hand; as tempting as it may be, as good a feeling as you may have, it rarely works out, and you just end up kicking yourself for having given away a sure fire payout. The only exception to this, where many consider it to be worth breaking up a paying hand is if you have four out of five cards for a royal flush.
For example let's say you have a Ten, Jack, Queen, and Ace of heats, as well as a Queen of clubs. In this situation you have a paying hand – a pair of Queens. Most machines will offer a 1:1 payout on this. Most people would concur that it is worth risking that 1:1 payout for the chance of the 800:1 payout that a Royal Straight Flush, or even the 6:1 or 4;1 payouts that flushes and straights usually get rewarded with. Thus in this situation you would hold all the cards except the Queen of clubs, thus breaking up your pair, and you'd hope that ideally a King of hearts would come, or otherwise a non-heart king for a straight, or a non-king heart for a flush.
Of course if you have a paying hand, it's a bit of a non-brainer what to do; you don't compromise that hand, except in the above scenario, but what if you don't have a paying hand? Well there are a few rules of thumb that should be followed for effective Jacks or Better strategic play.
For starters if four out of your five cards could make up a straight flush, a flush, or a straight, you should hold those four cards. If you have three cards that could make up a royal flush or a straight flush these should also be kept. In terms of pairs, you should hold onto them even if their low pairs that wouldn't get a payout by themselves, but you are of course holding on to them for a 2 pair, a full house, four of a kind or a three of a kind. High cards should also be kept, even if they are not of matching suits, and picture cards should always be held onto.
Thus we have covered what to do in the possibility of straights, flushes, straight flushes, and royal straight flushes; we know what to do with low pairs, and high cards; we are comfortable with 3 and 4 card hands, but what if we don't have any of these things? What if you get dealt 5 cards that are all low, don't match, and won't make up anything. Simple, you swap them all! Remember that sometimes knowing to start a fresh is as much of a strategy as knowing what to keep.
Knowing How Much To Be In Jacks and Better Poker
We have now dealt with half of jacks or better poker strategy, but what about the other half – the knowing how much to bet. Well with regard to this there are also some pretty good guidelines that can be followed that will help you make the most of your play.
The first thing to look out for is a Jacks or Better poker machine that offers Full Pay, which based on 5 coin play amounts to more than a 99% payout rate. A pay-table with this payout will have a 800:1 Royal Flush, 50:1 Straight flush, 25:1 four of a kind, 9:1 Full house, 6:1 flush, 4:1 straight, 2:1 two pair, and 1:1 jacks or better.
If you play on a Jacks or Better game with less than full payout you are simply allowing the house edge to be higher and thus you will win less. The other area where your practical decisions can make a difference to the outcome is whether you play full coin or not. The truth is that many machines will payout out considerably better for full coin play than lesser coin play, especially on the higher hands.
The differences in these payouts can be quite significant, often even more than half the amount for the less than max coin play! However, despite this reality, many argue that this is not a reason to play max coin. It's true that if you win your payout is much larger, however if you loose your losses will be quicker, thus, the decision to play full coin or not should ultimately be one of preference; down to if you enjoy playing full coin or not, and should not be based on a financial situation in which you might feel "cheated" if you win on less than max coins and thus only get 250 times your wager paid out rather than 800 times!
If you follow these guidelines for Jacks or Better poker you will find yourself winning more, and in better control of your game. Always remember that jacks or better is a math game, it can't be won entirely on math, but it can be understood better in this way – thus always assess the best chance of making the best hand, and always put yourself in an optimum winning position by picking the right machines and you won't go far wrong.
Now that you have learned some of the basic jacks or better strategy, how about a refresher on the rules of Jacks or Better poker.