Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is a term you've probably heard before when you've been to casinos. It's the name for probably the most popular and widely used variant of video poker. Video poker means that you are not playing in a land-based casino at the table, but online with a random number generator at a kind of poker mixer. Knowing and understanding the rules of Jack or Better is not only helpful for the game itself (you can't always rely on luck), it also helps you understand other variations of video poker that often build on it.

Also for normal poker, know the rules and set up your poker face. Here you can read our poker introduction and get the kick start you need.

Hand Categories

There are different categories of hands, 3 to be exact.

  1. First there are the pair-based hands, which of course includes the pair, 2 pairs, but also the triplet. You have to try to improve the hand, because one pair is not enough. The other cards have to complement now. Or you can give up a pair completely and have it shuffled all over again. So you have again the possibility on a Straight Flush or similar.
  2. The second category is the consecutive cards. These would be, for example, a straight draw or a flush draw. A straight draw is a consecutive row of 4 where the 5th card is still missing, e.g. 6,7,8,9. The same applies to the flush draw. It has 4 of the cards needed to make a flush, e.g. 4 heart cards.
  3. As a third category, there are those that are neither. Here you need to know what to do because this decision can affect your success or loss.

Example: You get an ace, a queen, a jack, a 7, and a 4. Which cards should be kept or which should be dealt? Correctly, you keep the Jack and Queen, the rest you surrender. Why? The retention of pairs is maximized by keeping these two cards. You also increase the chance of a straight draw.

Poker is very complex as you can see and it takes some practice to see through everything. But like everything else, practice makes perfect!