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Full Pay Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better was one of the earliest video poker variations created, and it remains very popular today.

One reason for Jacks or Better’s popularity is that it’s among the simplest video poker games to understand. You don’t have to learn multiple hands, wild cards, multipliers or bonus payouts.

Another reason why people like Jacks or Better is because the full pay (highest paying) version offers 99.54% payback and is found at many land-based and online casinos.

This contrasts other full pay video poker variants, which aren’t commonly found in casinos.

If you want to take advantage of this high payback and simplistic strategy, keep reading as we discuss Jacks or Better’s history, how to play, pay tables and strategy.

Jacks or Better History

Mississippi River Origins

Because Jacks or Better is commonly associated with video poker, many think that it didn’t exist until video poker machines entered casinos in the 1970s.

But Jacks or Better can actually be traced back to the nineteenth century when poker became popular on Mississippi riverboats.

The first known reference comes from gambler and writer J.H. Green who, in 1834, compared Jacks or Better to Three Card Monte. Green felt that Jacks or Better was a fair game, while Three Card Monte was a cheating game.

Like many forms of poker that originated on the Mississippi River, there’s no clear date on when people first started playing Jacks or Better. This leaves Green’s reference as the earliest mention of the game.

Jacks or Better Popularizes Video Poker

Jacks or Better remained in gambling circles throughout the years and was introduced as a video poker variant in the late 1970s.

Video poker was a failure when it was first introduced to casinos in 1970, namely because it was nothing more than a television monitor attached to a central processing unit. Players didn’t trust these machines, nor did they see any reason to gravitate away from the more popular slot machines.

By the mid 1970s, Si Redd and his company, SIRCOMA Si Redd’s Coin Machines, began creating better video poker machines and distributing them to more casinos.

SIRCOMA, later IGT, experienced moderate success with their first game Draw Poker, which is 5 card draw poker that starts payouts at a two pair.

SIRCOMA changed the lowest payout to a pair of jacks, which greatly increased video poker’s popularity. Today, Jacks or Better is still one of the most widely played machine based casino games.

How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better Betting

You can bet anywhere from 1 to 5 coins on your hand. Most land based casinos feature a $0.25 coin denomination, making the minimum bet $0.25 and the max wager $1.25.

As we’ll cover later, the royal flush payout has a disproportionate jump when moving from a 4 coin win to a 5 coin win.

If you want to be eligible for this increase and achieve top payback, then you need to bet 5 coins. To quickly wager 5 coins, click the Max Bet button.

Despite Jacks or Better’s high payback, some players don’t feel comfortable betting $1.25 per hand. If you’re a low roller who still wants to achieve max payback, note that online video poker has coin denominations as low as one cent.

Playing Hands

Once you’ve selected your betting options, click the Deal button to receive your 5 card hand. You then evaluate your hand and decide what to keep based on Jacks or Better strategy.

When you’ve decided what cards to keep and discard, click Draw to finalize your hand. The software will then determine if your hand qualifies for a payout according to the pay table.

Once the round is over, you can make betting changes. Or, you can just click Deal to use the same wager and get a new hand.

Jacks or Better Rules

Jacks or Better uses a standard 52 card deck with no wild cards. This game is programmed to make each card appear with the same odds that you’d expect from a real 52 card deck.

Random number generator software ensures that every deal and hand is randomized.

Land based casinos must submit to state audits to ensure that their video poker and other games are random. Online casinos must adhere to the specifications set forth by their licensing jurisdiction(s).

Jacks or Better Variations

While Jacks or Better is straightforward, IGT has produced some new video poker variants that allow you to play this game in a different format. Here’s a look at games that put a twist on Jacks or Better:

Triple Play Poker
Triple Play sees you play three video poker hands at once, each requiring a separate bet. Any card that you hold in your bottom hand is mirrored in the other two hands. Triple Play Poker forms the basis for the other variants discussed here, which also use a multi hand format.
Good Times Pay
Featured in Triple Play format, Good Times Pay sees you get random multipliers on wins as long as you bet 5 coins per hand.
Hot Roll Video Poker
You can play 3, 5, or 10 hands at once, and you need to bet 10 coins on a hand to make it eligible for the Hot Roller multiplier. This feature randomly sees dice roll across the screen and gives you a multiplier equal to the two dice’s value (2x to 12x).
Hyper Bonus Poker
Hyper Bonus is very similar to Hot Roll with its two 12x multiplier range. The main difference is that no dice are involved in Hyper Bonus.
Multi Strike Poker
This game sees you play up to four hands, which are stacked on top of each other in levels. Every time that you win, you move to a new level/hand. The second level offers a 2x multiplier, the third level has a 4x multiplier and the fourth level has an 8x multiplier.
Multi Strike Poker Super Times Pay
This is the same as Multi Strike Poker, except you can activate the Super Times pay feature on each hand by betting another coin. Super Times Pay gives you a random multiplier on wins worth up to 10x.
Peek and Play Poker
For an extra 2 coin bet, you can activate the Peek and Play feature, which lets you see the first replacement card before you make discards. This can help you avoid making discards or keeping cards that would hurt your hand.
Pick and Pair Poker
This game sees four cards dealt– two on the left and two on the right. You pick one of the two cards to keep on the right hand side and the other card disappears. After this, the final two cards are dealt, and your 5 card hand is complete (no draw round).

Jacks or Better Video Poker Pay Tables and Odds

As mentioned before, Jacks or Better is one of the few video poker games where you can find the full pay version. This is called 9 / 6 Jacks or Better, because a full house pays 9 coins and a flush offers 6 coins.

But even with full pay Jacks or Better available, you’ll commonly find other versions in land based casinos that pay less for a full house and flush.

Let’s look at these pay tables below and discus how the lower full house and flush payouts affect payback:

9 / 6 Jacks or Better Pay Table

Hand1 coin2 coins3 coins4 coins5 coins
Royal flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight flush50100300400500
4 of a kind255075100125
Full house918273645
Flush612182430
Straight48121620
3 of a kind3691215
2 pairs246810
Jacks or better12345

9 / 5 Jacks or Better Pay Table

Hand1 coin2 coins3 coins4 coins5 coins
Royal flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight flush50100300400500
4 of a kind255075100125
Full house918273645
Flush512182430
Straight48121620
3 of a kind3691215
2 pairs246810
Jacks or better12345

8 / 6 Jacks or Better Pay Table

Hand1 coin2 coins3 coins4 coins5 coins
Royal flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight flush50100300400500
4 of a kind255075100125
Full house818273645
Flush612182430
Straight48121620
3 of a kind3691215
2 pairs246810
Jacks or better12345

As you can see, nothing changes between these pay tables except for full house and flush payouts. But, you may be surprised at how these little changes alter the payback:

  • 9 / 6 Jacks or Better = 99.54% payback
  • 9 / 5 Jacks or Better = 98.45% payback
  • 8 / 6 Jacks or Better = 98.39% payback

Considering the drop from 9 / 6 to 9 / 5 Jacks or Better, you can see why it’s good to find the full pay version whenever it’s available.

Earlier, we mentioned the jump between the royal flush payout on a 4 coin and 5 coin win. As the pay table shows, you win 1,000 credits on a 4 coin wager and 4,000 credits on a 5 coin bet.

If you want to attain the highest payback, then you need to bet the max number of coins.

One more thing worth mentioning is that most video poker variants have pay tables that are based on Jacks or Better. Once you learn the Jacks or Better pay table, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to other games.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

Video poker strategy is never easy, but Jacks or Better offers simpler strategy than many video poker variants.

This game doesn’t have a lot of winning hands, meaning you have less to look at when reviewing strategy charts.

In fact, you can even use a simplified strategy chart that’ll get you to 99.46% payback, which is very close to the optimal 99.54% pay.

Below, you can see the simplified strategy chart along with the advanced version.

When reading these charts, start from the top and scan down until you find your hand listed. If you don’t find your hand, then discard everything.

Simple Strategy Chart 99.46% Payback

  • Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Full house, flush, straight, 3 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • 2 pair
  • High pair J J to A A
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • Low pair (10s or lower)
  • 4 cards to an outside straight
  • 2 unsuited high cards
  • Suited K 10, Q 10, or J 10
  • One high card

Advanced Strategy Chart 99.54% Payback

  • Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Full house, flush, straight, 3 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair J J to A A
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • Unsuited K Q J T
  • Low pair
  • 4 cards to an outside straight w/ 0 2 high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • Suited Q J
  • 4 cards to an inside straight w/ 4 high cards
  • Suited K Q, K J
  • Suited A K, A Q, or A J
  • 4 cards to an inside straight w/ 3 high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • Unsuited K Q J
  • Unsuited Q J
  • Suited J T
  • 2 unsuited high cards w/ king high card
  • Suited Q T
  • 2 unsuited high cards w/ ace high card
  • Jack only
  • Suited K T
  • Queen, king, or ace only
  • 3 cards to a straight flush

Conclusion

One of the biggest reasons why people choose video poker is because they want to use strategy and have a solid chance to beat the casino. Jacks or Better offers both of these benefits, without forcing you to look at a novel-like strategy chart.

Beyond these parks, another advantage to Jacks or Better is that it offers the perfect introduction to video poker.

This game’s pay table forms the backbone of every video poker variant. If you already know the Jacks or Better pay table, then you can quickly adapt to new payouts offered in games like Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Deuces Wild and Deuces Wild Bonus.

One more perk to Jacks or Better is that you’ll find its full pay version more often than any other video poker game. When available, full pay Jacks or Better gives you a chance to achieve up to 99.54% payback.

The only problem is that advanced strategy is more complex than the average player wants to deal with. For this reason, we recommend that beginners use the simplified strategy chart and go for 99.46% payback.

In any case, Jacks or Better is definitely worth playing if you’re looking for an alternative to slot machines that actually has strategy.