May 11, 2017

Jacks or Better Poker Strategy - The Most Famous Video Poker Version

author Peter S.

Video poker is one of the games where it is possible to shift the advantage from the casino to the player. Today we focused on the Jacks or Better variant. You will learn about the frequency of individual winning combinations, but above all how to achieve ideal gaming conditions, ie when the value of the progressive jackpot is so high that it pays to play and erase the advantage of the casino. Moreover, in the end of the article we introduce you the best Jacks or Better strategy

The payout ratio of different hands increases depending on the frequency of the given hands in all video poker games. In Jacks or Better, the most common paying hands are pairs of Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. They also have the lowest payout ratio - just 1:1. At the other end, the rarest hand in video poker, the royal flush, is also the highest paying, at 800:1. The exact frequency of each hand can be found in the table below.

Combination Frequency Average Return
Royal Flush 40391 1,98
Straight Flush 9148 0,55
Four of a Kind 423 5,91
Full House 86,8 10,36
Flush 90,8 6,61
Straight 89 4,49
Three of a Kind 13 22,33
Two Pair 7,7 25,86
Jacks or Better 4,6 21,46

The numbers in the "frequency" column show us the average occurrence rate of all hands:

  • A straight appears once every 89 hands
  • A four of a kind once every 423 hands
  • A straight flush once every 9148 hands

The numbers in the "percentage of return" column show us the relative amount that contributes to the game's total return.

For four of a kind, the figure is 5.91%, which means that four of a kind accounts for 5.91% of the total average return of 99.54% for this game. If this combination were removed from the game entirely, the average return for this version would be only 93.63%.

Jacks or Better

How to find out the short-term winnings at Jacks or Better poker

As you can see in the 'frequency' column, jacks or better combo comes once every 4.6 hands, and a royal flush is then on the other side of the leaderboard. It will only come up once every 40391 hands. Combining this number with the "return percentage" gives us an idea of what kind of win we can expect in a relatively short period of time. And that's very advantageous with Jacks or Better.

For a short game session, say only a hundred hands played, we can expect to play every hand at least once, except for the top three: four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush.

Subtract their percentages from the overall average return, and you get the average return for 100 hands: 91.1%.

99,54 - 1,98 - 0,55 - 5,91 = 91,1 %

We can include four of a kind in a 500-game session. It gives us excellent chances because, for a 500-hand game, the average return rate is already at 97%.

If we were to leave out only the top prize, the royal flush, we would get to 97.54%. As you can see, the straight flush contributes very little to the overall return.

However, you should not approach the game from a short-term perspective. Many players will play millions of rounds of video poker in their lifetime. So what does this short-term data tell you? They can help you figure out what your chances are during your favorite hour of video poker.

Royal flush turns the advantage to our side.

Let's leave frequency aside for now and focus purely on average return. If we play around with the numbers, we can figure out what a royal flush would have to have a payout ratio to get over 100%.

The base game versions, both online and offline, can be found as Jacks or Better progressive. These games collect a portion of your wagered money into a jackpot, and it is by this value that the royal flush payout is then increased. Once someone hits the jackpot, the amount is reloaded from scratch.

It is therefore essential for players to know when the machine reaches that 100% return. In this case, the advantage is already on his side, and he can start playing. Let's take a look at the numbers:

The classic royal flush pays out 4,000 coins and contributes 1.98% to a total return of 99.54%. So to get to 100%, we need another 0.44%. And that's 22.22% of 1.98% (0.44 / 1.98 x 100). So we need to increase the average royal flush return by 22.23% to get over the magic 100%. It means that the royal flush would have to pay out 4889 coins.

So a quarter machine would pay $1222 instead of $1000.

These numbers can be applied to any progressive game. A typical variation of our Jacks or Better video poker is when a flush pays only five credits, and a full house pays eight. This game is known as Jacks or Better video poker 8/5. If this game has a progressive royal jackpot, the average return can also go over 100%, but only if no one hits the jackpot for a long time.

To determine how much the royal flush payout needs to go up, we first need to adjust our numbers to account for the reduced full house and flush payout.

Flush 6.61 x 6/5 = 5.508 and full house 10.36 x 8/9 = 9.2

So now we know the average return values for the full house and flush for Jacks or Better 8/5, which gives a final return of 14.7%. We replace this value with the values from our table (16.97%) and get a figure of 97.28%. We are therefore 2.72% short of 100% for this version of video poker.

2.72 is 137% of 1.98, and we need to increase the payout of the 4,000 coins royal flush by 137%, or 5,480 credits. Simple math tells us that we will achieve a 100% average return if the royal flush pays 9480 credits.

If we convert that to money, that's $2370 on the $1.25 video poker version and $9480 on the $5 version.

The optimal Jacks or Better Strategy

To the player's advantage, it is necessary to know and follow the optimal strategy for the house edge to tip over on Jacks or Better, or for that matter, on any version of video poker. Each poker game has its strategy and cannot be transferred between them. Probably the simplest is the optimal strategy for the version of Jacks or Better poker just described.

Experts just most often recommend starting with this one. For most of the other versions, all you have to do is tweak a few rules, and it's the same thing.

The following strategy is a simplified version of Michael Shackleford's Jacks or Better. To use the strategy, block the highest-ranked card combination in hand (a high card being a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace).

  • Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair
  • 3 cards for a royal flush
  • 4 cards in a flush
  • Low pair
  • 4 cards in a straight open at the end
  • 2 high cards in suit
  • 3 cards in a straight flush
  • 2 high cards in another suit (if you have more than 2, choose the 2 lowest)
  • 10 in combination with another high card in the suit
  • One high card
  • Discard all.
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