Jacks or Better Video Poker

The following strategy is a simple strategy for Jacks or Better video poker. Using the strategy on a full pay machine will result in an expected return of 99.46%. Compared to the optimal strategy return of 99.54%, mistakes in the simple strategy will cost 0.08%, or one total bet every 1178 hands.

To use the strategy look up all viable ways to play an initial hand on the following list and elect that which is highest on the list. A “high card” means a jack or higher.

  • Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
  • 4 to a royal flush
  • Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
  • 4 to a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair
  • 3 to a royal flush
  • 4 to a flush
  • Low pair
  • 4 to an outside straight
  • 2 suited high cards
  • 3 to a straight flush
  • 2 unsuited high cards (if more than 2 then pick the lowest 2)
  • Suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K
  • One high card
  • Discard everything

Jacks or Better Terms:
High card: A jack, queen, king, or ace. These cards are retained more often because if paired up they return the original bet.
Outside straight: An open ended straight that can be completed at either end, such as the cards 7,8,9,10.
Inside straight: A straight with a missing inside card, such as the cards 6,7,9,10. In addition A,2,3,4 and J,Q,K,A also count as inside straights because they are at an extreme end.
Comparison to Optimal Strategy
The following table compares the probability and return of each hand under both the simple strategy and the optimal strategy.

Simple Strategy to Optimal Strategy Comparison          
Hand Pays Probability   Return  
Simple Optimal Simple Optimal
Royal flush 800 0.000025 0.000025 0.020076 0.019807
Straight flush 50 0.000111 0.000109 0.005552 0.005465
Four of a kind 25 0.002363 0.002363 0.059067 0.059064
Full house 9 0.011517 0.011512 0.103657 0.10361
Flush 6 0.011087 0.011015 0.066521 0.066087
Straight 4 0.010637 0.011229 0.042547 0.044917
Three of a kind 3 0.074543 0.074449 0.223629 0.223346
Two pair 2 0.129552 0.129279 0.259104 0.258558
Pair 1 0.214437 0.214585 0.214437 0.214585
Nothing 0 0.545729 0.545435 0 0
Total   1 1 0.99459 0.995439

The next table is a frequency distribution of the error, or difference in expected return, between the simple strategy and the optimal strategy.

Error Frequency    
Error Number Probability
0 2540016 97.732016%
.01% to .99% 5808 0.223474%
1% to 1.99% 12084 0.464955%
2% to 2.99% 6336 0.24379%
3% to 3.99% 7320 0.281651%
4% to 4.99% 11976 0.4608%
5% to 5.99% 11868 0.456644%
6% to 6.99% 1260 0.048481%
7% to 7.99% 216 0.008311%
8% to 8.99% 0 0%
9% to 9.99% 0 0%
10% to 10.99% 0 0%
11% to 11.99% 768 0.02955%
12% to 12.99% 36 0.001385%
13% to 13.99% 216 0.008311%
14% to 14.99% 840 0.032321%
15% to 15.99% 216 0.008311%
Total 2598960 100%
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