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Learn how to Play Jacks or Better

Basic Game Play

Jacks or Better is a very popular video poker game, which many players finds fun because of its high payouts and its easy game play. To play jacks or better doesn't take a whole lot from you, no matter if it is in a live casino or if you are sitting at home in front of your computer playing it.

When you are ready to play you insert credits, choose the amount of credits you wish to bet and press the "deal" button and five different cards will then appear on the screen of the machine or your computer. Your objective with these five cards is to form the best possible hand according to regular poker hand rankings, but in order to get a payout you will need to get a pair of jacks or better, hence the name.

The first five cards that appears on the machine or your screen can then be chosen to be "held", which means that when you press deal for the second and last time, those cards will not change. This can be useful if you already have a pair of kings for example, making the chance of you hitting three of a kind or a better hand even bigger.

Once you have decided if you want to hold  any cards or not, you simply press deal again and the machine will give you new cards on the cards you did not hold. Once the cards appears the machine will instantly show you if you have won a prize or not and pay you accordingly. A very simple and fun game to play both in live casinos and online. 


The rules of the game are very simple. All you need to be aware of is how many credits you will be betting in each hand, try and form a hand that is a pair of jacks or better and the machine will take care of the rest for you.

There are two rounds of cards in jacks or better, the first round you can hold cards and the second round is known as a showdown round. You can only hold cards after the cards are dealt the first time, the second time there is no holding or changing any cards. Some jacks or better machines comes with bonus games where you can choose to try and double your prize by guessing if the next card will be higher or lower than the card shown on the machine, but in general this is not something that we recommend to do as it provides a lower payout in general. 

Hand Rankings

The hand rankings system used in jacks or better is the same as used in regular Texas Hold'em poker and five card draw games. Below you will find a chart of how the hand ranking system works exactly, if you are not familiar with the ranking system already:

  • High Card - When you have nothing on your hand, the highest card is the one that counts
  • One Pair - Any two cards that are of the same denomination
  • Two Pairs - Any two sets of cards with the same denomination
  • Three of a kind - When you have three cards with the same denomination
  • Straight - Five cards that are in sequence, no matter which suit they have
  • Flush - Five cards of the same suit, no matter which denomination they have
  • Full House - Three cards of one denomination and two cards of another denomination
  • Straight Flush - Five cards in sequence all of the same suit
  • Royal Flush - Best possible poker hand that exists. The hand is where you have ace to ten straight all in the same suit.

What is important to remember here is that high card doesn't provide a prize and that one pair only gives a prize if the pair is of jacks or better. 


The payouts for playing jacks or better are in general the same for most casinos, however it may vary some places. The general payouts are as shown below:

  • One Pair of Jacks or Better Pays 1:1
  • Two Pairs Pays 2:1
  • Three of a Kind Pays 3:1
  • Straight Pays 4:1
  • Flush Pays 6:1
  • Full House Pays 9:1
  • Four of a Kind Pays 25:1
  • Straight Flush Pays 50:1
  • Royal Flush Pays 250:1

Always remember to check if the payouts are better, the same or worse than the scheme above, so you know if you should play jacks or better on the site you are currently on, or change to a site that offers higher payouts as it matters for your odds of winning in the game.