Playing video poker is a quick way to get in a few hands of poker as well as a shot at winning some money, if your luck is good. The most popular version of video poker at casinos both online and off is Jacks or Better Video Poker.
Jacks or Better in a nutshell
Jacks or better video terminals use the rules that are basic to five card draw. Players make their bets and then are dealt five cards; after analyzing the cards, the player must then choose which to discard and which to keep.
The discarded cards are then replaced with new cards and the player either wins or loses.
Winning or losing a hand at jacks or better is fairly straightforward. Players make their bet back if the have a pair of jacks or any higher hand; a pair of tens or any other lower combination will result in a loss of the bet.
Where players stand to make money with this popular video display is in the payout accorded to different hands. Two pairs will pay two to one; you will get your bet back, plus the payout on the odds. Let’s take a look using $10 bets, the maximum at many different poker terminals.
One pair of jacks or higher will get you your bet back (1 to 1 odds).
Two pairs of any card will get your bet back, plus another ten dollars (2 to 1 odds).
Three of a kind will get you your bet, plus ten dollars (3 to 1 odds).
Straights offer 4 to 1 odds, flushes 6 to 1 odds, full house 9 to 1 odds, four of a kind 25 to 1 odds, straight flushes 50 to 1 odds and Royal Flushes 250 to 1 odds.
These are generally the payouts, but they will be different depending on the video terminal you are playing on. You should also note that if you play for more than one credit, your payouts will greatly increase, particularly for a rare Royal Flush.
One key to success, if success is defined as losing no money, in any casino game is to use an established strategy. Some strategies are as simple as ensuring that you bet no more than you came into the casino with, while others are game specific.
In Jacks or Better video poker, it’s important to remember that even with perfect strategy on a full pay video terminal, the casino will still end up with one dollar in every hundred that you spend over the long term. Not much, but still a loss. Still, getting out early after some success can ensure you made some money on that outing, just try not to go back for a while!
One key strategy in playing Jacks or Better video poker is to divorce yourself from strategies that work well for you in real life poker games. For example, it would be unlikely that you would discard a pair of nines in a real poker game; that is often enough to take the pot against other players.
In Jacks or Better, though, it’s best to hang on only to face cards, and if that means throwing away a pair, then do it. The idea is to play breaking even until the odds give you a great hand.