Knowing the True Value of Jacks or Better Video Poker Hands
May 15, 2014
If you want to truly master Jacks or Better and provide yourself with a solid foundation for all other video poker games, then you need to learn the true value of different types of hands and draws. These values are represented in your average payout rate for playing hands in different ways, and they can be used to make decisions between playing hands in different ways like when you have a made hand with a draw to go with it. These are the hardest decisions in Jacks or Better, and this information will help you to make them with a higher degree of accuracy.
A single high pair is the most basic building block for this type of analysis, and that's worth about 1.5x. That means your average payout when you draw three cards to a single high pair is going to be about 1.5 times your bet. Along similar lines, the payout rate for a low pair is about 0.8x. Using these two rates as stating points, you can compare them to different types of draws and see how you should play some of the most difficult scenarios.
Let's start with flush draws. A flush draw with no high cards is worth about 1.1x. If you add one high card, it jumps up to about 1.2x, and two high cards will make it worth about 1.3x. With three high cards, it's worth about 1.4x, so you can see that you will always prefer a high pair over a flush draw in every possible scenario that comes up, and you will also prefer a flush draw over any low pair. Note that having four high cards is an automatic draw because that constitutes a royal flush draw, so we don't really consider that case here.
What about open-ended straight draws? With no high cards, they're worth about 0.7x. A single high card jumps that up to about 0.75x, and two high cards makes it 0.8x. Three high cards for a KQJT combination puts your payout rate at 0.87x. What you can see from this is that a low pair is always better than an open-ended straight draw except for the case where you have KQJTT. In this exceptionally rare case, it's better to keep the straight draw because of the power of the high cards to catch big pairs that get the 1x payout.