A winning strategy for Joker’s Wild Poker

November 28, 2000 7:54 AM
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QUESTION: What is the strategy for Joker Poker?

GAMBLING GURU: Most of the new multi-game machines omit Joker Wild Poker, including the popular Triple Play. But, Jokers Wild poker is very popular because hands such as straight flushes and four-of-a-kinds are more common, and the "mini-jackpot" paid on a five-of-a-kind is not out of reach.

Of course, you must decide between the full payout and progressive machines. Whichever you choose, always try to find a machine that pays at least even money for Kings or better, and 20-1 for four-of-a-kind.

Because the joker complicates the playing strategy, it will be broken into two parts: hands dealt with a joker and hands dealt without.

Hands without the joker:

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush even if it means breaking a pat high pair (kings or aces), straight or flush. But don’t break a pat straight flush for a one-card draw to a royal.

2. Draw two cards to a royal flush, unless you already hold a pat straight flush, straight, flush or three of a kind.

3. Draw one card to a straight flush even if you already hold a pat flush or straight.

4. Draw two cards to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush, straight, or three of a kind.

5. If you need one card for either a flush or a straight, draw for the flush.

6. If you need one card for either a flush or straight and already hold a high pair, keep the high pair.

7. If you need one card for a flush or two cards for a straight flush and already hold a low pair (queens or lower), break up the pair and draw. If you need one card for a straight and already hold a low pair, keep the low pair.

8. If you’re dealt two pair and one of them is a high pair, keep the high pair. If not, retain both.

9. Always draw to a low pair rather than holding a single high card.

10. Draw five cards when you don’t have a single high card that can be paired.

Hands with the joker:

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush unless you already hold a pat straight flush or joker royal flush.

2. Draw two cards to a royal flush unless you already hold a pat straight flush, straight, flush or three of a kind.

3. Draw one card to a straight flush even if you already hold a pat flush or straight.

4. Draw two cards to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush, straight or three of a kind.

5. If you need one card for either a flush or a straight, draw for the flush.

6. If you need one card for either a flush or straight and already hold a high pair, keep the high pair.

7. If you’re dealt anything less than a high pair, or you can’t draw to the hands listed above, hold the joker and draw four cards.