The Top Four Mistakes Players Make in Jacks or Better Video Poker

September 19, 2014


In video poker, Jacks or Better is that game that everyone learns to play first because it's the most basic of all games. We have four big mistakes that people make in this game that really undermine their success. The first mistake is putting too much value in open-ended straight draws. In video poker, they don't hit as often as flush draws, and they get a lower payout, so they have two compound factors that make them worth less than something like a small pair, for instance.

The second big mistake is undervaluing flush draws. Along these same lines, flush draws have more ways to hit when compared to straight draws, plus they get bigger payouts when they do hit. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, this is a 6x payout compared to a 5x payout. People can undervalue flush draws by thinking that they aren't as good as low pairs, and this is really the case when the flush draw includes big cards that could also make high pairs. With so many ways to improve your hand, there's no reason to hold on to a small pair to try to improve to two pair with its low 2x payout or three of a kind with its also low 3x prize.

Our third mistake has to do with two different types of flush draws. A lot of people will see situations with something like AsKsJs4s3d and automatically assume that they should play for the four-card flush draw because it seems intuitive. In Jacks or Better and many other types of non-wild card video poker, you should actually play with a three-card royal draw over a four-card flush draw if you have the opportunity instead. It's a situation that comes up a lot, and it can get you a lot of value if you play this spot correctly.

The fourth and final mistake we're going to cover here has to do with breaking up pat hands. People think if you're given a pat flush or pat straight that you should immediately discard zero and keep your hand for the guaranteed payout. However, if you have four cards to a royal flush, then you should always break up those made hands. This is anti-intuitive since you're giving up a sure thing for a chance at a better hand, but it's actually worth a lot more to go for the royal draw.