A winning strategy for Jacks or better video poker

January 02, 2001 12:37 AM
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QUESTION: You’ve printed the strategy for Deuces Wild poker. But what about regular draw poker?

GAMBLING GURU: We assume you’re referring to Jacks or better poker, which could include Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Bonus Deluxe, Triple Bonus, etc.

All of these games are essentially Jacks or Better poker, with the incentive of higher payouts on specific hands, usually Four of a Kind.

There’s a cost, however, to playing for the "mini-jackpots" represented by the higher payoffs – many of the lower hands have smaller paybacks.

Basic Strategy

You’ll have to decide what kind of machine (bonus?) you want to play, and whether it is a full payout or progressive machine. The full payout pays a fixed amount of coins for a royal flush, usually 4,000 coins with the maximum bet. The progressive pays a jackpot that continues to grow until one of its machines hits the royal flush. This is often offset by lower payouts on the other hands.

The primary objective at the Jacks-or-Better machine is to hit the royal flush. You’ll also want to maximize your winnings if you don’t hit the royal, which has odds of about 40,000 to 1 against it. In order to do that, follow this basic strategy:

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush, even if it means breaking a pat high pair (jacks or better), straight or flush. But don’t break a pat straight flush for a 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 unless you already hold a pat flush or straight.

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

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 and already hold a low pair (10s or lower), break up the pair and draw for the flush. If you need one card for a straight and already hold a low pair, keep the low pair.

8. Always hold two pair and three of a kind.

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 and don’t have four to a flush or straight.