Jacks or Better Video Poker

About Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is the most common video poker game. The name “Jacks or Better” means that the lowest winning hand is a pair of Jacks.

Jacks or Better Paytable

The most common Jacks or Better paytable (called 9/6 Jacks or Better) is shown below as well as the odds for getting different kinds of hands.

Hand Payout Probability Return ODDS 1 in
Royal flush 800 0.00248 % 1.98% 40387.72
Straight flush 50 0.01093 % 0.55% 9148.29
4 of a kind 25 0.23626 % 5.91% 423.27
Full house 9 1.15122 % 10.36% 86.86
Flush 6 1.10145 % 6.61% 90.79
Straight 4 1.12294 % 4.49% 89.05
3 of a kind 3 7.44487 % 22.33% 13.43
Two pair 2 12.92789 % 25.86% 7.74
Jacks or better 1 21.45850 % 21.46% 4.66
Nothing 0 54.54347 % 0.00% 1.83
Total   100.000 % 99.544 % 1.00

The “Payout” shows the payout in terms of how many times the total bet is returned. The “Probability” column shows the probability of getting this hand and the “Return” column shows how much of total return this hand represents from the total return. For example we see that 10.36% of total return comes from Full Houses and only 0.55% from Straight Flushes. “Odds” column shows how many hands it takes on average to get that payout. We see that it takes more than 40 000 hands played on average to get a Royal Flush.

Optimal Strategy and Rule Variations

With optimal strategy standard 9/6 Jacks or Better returns 99.54% (0.46% house edge). The following simplified strategy gives 99.52% return.

Hold a hand that is highest on the list, draw other cards.

1 Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
2 4 to a royal flush
3 Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
4 4 to a straight flush
5 Two pair
6 High pair
7 3 to a royal flush
8 4 to a flush
9 Low pair
10 4 to an outside straight
11 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) no gaps 2) high cards >= gaps
12 AKQJ unsuited
13 2 suited high cards
14 4 to a straight, one gap, 3 high cards
15 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) one gap 2) two gaps + 1 high card 3) 234 suited
16 KQJ unsuited
17 QJ unsuited
18 JT suited
19 KQ, KJ unsuited
20 QT suited
21 AK, AQ, AJ unsuited
22 KT suited
23 One high card
24 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) 2 gaps and 0 high cards 2) ace-low
25 Replace All cards


Definitions:
gap – missing rank between cards, for example 6,8,10 has two gaps
high card – Jack to Ace (picture-card)
inside-straight – a straight which can be completed only one way (eg. 7,8,9,J or A,2,3,4)
outside-straight – A straight which can be completed two-way (eg.7,8,9,10)

Net Entertainment Jacks or Better

Other common 9/6 Jacks or better is the version offered by Net Entertainment casinos. This version pays 5x bet for straights, 20x for 4-of-a-kind and 40x for straight flushes. With optimal strategy the NetEnt Jacks or Better pays 99.56%. For this payout you will need to change the strategy a little bit to get the best return. The optimal strategy table is below. All the differences in strategy compared to above strategy table are shown in bold.

Hold a hand that is highest on the list, draw other cards.

1 Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
2 4 to a royal flush
3 Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
4 4 to a straight flush
5 Two pair
6 High pair
7 3 to a royal flush
8 4 to a flush
9 4 to an outside straight
10 Low pair
11 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) no gaps 2) high cards >= gaps
12 4 to a straight, one gap, 3 high cards
13 2 suited high cards
14 4 to inside straight, 2 High Cards
15 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) one gap 2) two gaps + 1 high card 3) 234 suited
16 KQJ unsuited
17 QJ unsuited
18 JT suited
19 KQ, KJ unsuited
20 4 to inside straight, 1 High Card
21 QT, KT suited
22 AK, AQ, AJ unsuited
23 One high card
24 3 to a straight flush with one of the following: 1) 2 gaps and 0 high cards 2) ace-low
25 4 to inside straight, no high cards
26 Replace All cards

Definitions:
gap – missing rank between cards, for example 6,8,10 has two gaps
high card – Jack to Ace (picture-card)
inside-straight – a straight which can be completed only one way (eg. 7,8,9,J or A,2,3,4)
outside-straight – A straight which can be completed two-way (eg.7,8,9,10)

The main differences are to go for a 4-card outside straight instead of keeping a low pair and to keep an inside-straight instead of replacing all cards.

Jacks or Better Introduction Video

Betfair Zero Lounge Jacks or Better

Betfair offers a standard 9/6 Jacks or Better with improved payout of 976 for Royal Flush. This game has 0% house edge with optimal strategy. Notice that you don’t have to play 5 coins for the maximum payout. Again the optimal strategy changes slightly because of the increased value of Royal flush. Use the normal 9/6 Jacks or Better strategy with the following changes to get 100.00% long term return:

Make following changes to the standard strategy

1 Hold three to a royal over high pair, unless the royal contains Ace + Ten
2 Hold three to royal over four to flush
3 Hold suited Ace + Ten instead of just Ace unless there is a third card of the same suit
4 Hold suited Ten + King instead of just the King
5 Hold TK suited over two unsuited high cards ace highest, unless there is another card of the same suit as the king and ten, in which case hold the two unsuited high cards
6 Hold TQ suited over two unsuited high cards king highest, unless there is another card of the same suit as the queen and ten, in which case hold the two unsuited high cards
7 Hold JQ suited over three to straight flush with no gaps
8 Hold TJ suited over JK unsuited
9 Hold TQ suited over QA unsuited

Alternatively you can play Zero Jacks or Better with the normal 9/6 strategy. This gives you a 99.975% return. However with the strategy changes above, you will get a Royal Flush 10% more often!

House Edge

As mentioned above the house edge of standard Jacks or Better is 0.46%, Net Entertainment JoB 0.44% and Betfair Zero JoB 0%. Remember though that about 2% of the payout is within the Royal Flush. This means that for every session when you will not get a Royal flush, you will get an average return of 97.5% - 98%. This means that your balance tends to drop slowly until you get a high paying hand. The following picture shows a simulation of 2000 hands session on Jacks or Better:

Variance and Results Over Bonus Wagering Requirement

While Jacks or Better has a low house edge, it also has a quite high variance which means that there is a good chance of losing while completing the bonus play-through. However if you get a high paying hand like Royal Flush, you will end up much over the expected value. If you prefer to complete the bonus play-through with low risk of losing, blackjack is a better option if it can be played.

The standard deviation per hand in Jacks or Better (single hand version) is 4.42. The following table shows Chance of Gain, Risk of Busting and the Bonus EV for different wagering requirements and bet sizes when completing play-through on Jacks or Better. See the return and variance calculator for other bet sizes and WRs.

Chance of Gain / Risk of busting

Bet per hand Bonus Wagering requirement
  30 x B 50 x B 100 x B
1.25 58% / 22% 45% / 40% 30% / 65%
2.5 55% / 34% 39% / 55% 23% / 73%
5 42% / 51% 31% / 66% 21% / 78%
10 34% / 63% 28% / 71% 16% / 83%
Bonus EV 86.2 77.0 54.0

Choose the correct wagering requirement and your preferred bet size. The bet sizes
are relative to 100€ bonus. (ie. for 200€ bonus, multiply the bet size by two).

The table lists Chance of Gain and Risk of busting. The numbers are derived
by simulating 1000 sessions so they are not absolutely accurate.
Chance of Gain = Probability to end up with profit after completing the bonus wagering requirement
Risk of bust = Probability to lose the whole bankroll (deposit and bonus) before completing
the bonus wagering requirement.

The "Bonus EV" lists the expected value of the bonus. The values are relative to 100€ bonus
(ie. For 200€ bonus, multiply the EV by two).

The following graph shows the probability distribution of the end result when wagering 50xB on Jacks or Better with 1.25€ bet size (bolded in the above table). The percentages in the graph show the cumulative probabilities for the end result. The graph shows that the end result distribution has two humps – those sessions where the player didn’t get a Royal Flush and those sessions where he did.