The Highest Paying Casino Game - Jacks or Better Video Poker!
A Casino Game with a Long History and Bright Future
Video poker was introduced as a gaming option in the mid-1970s, but it took a while for it to become a realistic proposition for casinos since the technology wasn’t quite there yet. Early machines were relatively primitive if we compare them to today's standards.
In the early 1980s, reliable video poker machines were becoming mainstream in the casinos. They used a central processing unit to determine the outcome and award the payouts. It didn’t take long for the new game to attract the attention of regular players. Some skilled bettors found video poker to be very rewarding, and this helped increase the game's popularity.
Nowadays, video poker is widely available in brick and mortar as well as online casinos, especially prevalent in Las Vegas. Jacks or Better is the most popular variation of video poker, along with other similar versions, such as Tens or Better and Bonus Poker. The game maintains its high return to player rate (RPT), and if played correctly, it can even have a negative house edge, giving players more advantage on average.
Before you head on over to your chosen online casino, to play Jacks or Better Video Poker, however, you should learn more about the game in our expert guide.
Video poker doesn’t appeal to all casino players. At its core, it has elements of casino poker; a casino table game, and slots, so it should draw fans from both camps. It is played with cards but on a computer, rather than on a classic table. However, it requires a fair amount of knowledge regarding poker hand rankings and odds. This makes it more challenging to play than your average casino game, so it can sometimes discourage newcomers from betting real money.
The best player profile for Jacks or Better Video Poker would be a fan of poker, preferably five card draw. Being familiar with the different rankings for the hand can help you make the right decisions, and so you stand to win more money. Plus, if you are already familiar with the basics, you will be more open to specific strategies and tips for playing Jacks or Better optimally.
The biggest attraction, however, is the low house edge. It is very often that Jacks or Better and 10's or Better machines have the highest return to player rates in a casino. It gets very close to 100%, and it can sometimes even exceed this mark, offering more money over a set period than it takes in through bets.
Other reasons to consider playing video poker include the fact that you can play alone in your rhythm and not have to take a seat at a crowded table in a casino. You will also find the betting range fitting for most bankrolls since it is possible to change the value of a coin and bet up to five coins per round.
A Jacks or Better Video Poker game is played with a regular deck of 52 cards. The gameplay is usually displayed on a monitor, and the machine shuffles the deck before every round. While it is possible to play multiple hands at the same time, each hand is performed with a separate deck and not from a community one.
The player has a couple of betting options for setting the coin size and the number of coins. This can be done from the buttons on the dashboard, located at the bottom of the screen. Most machines also display the paytable based on the current wager on the same screen.
After setting the bet and pressing the deal button, the game will show a hand of five random cards. At this point, players can choose to hold any or all of them. The cards that are not held will be replaced with random cards from the remaining deck. At this point, the round is complete, and the machine awards a payout accordingly based on the strength of the hand.
As the name implies in Jacks or Better, the lowest ranking hand a player can have to receive a payout is a pair of Jacks. In the ‘Tens or Better’ version, players also win if they get a pair of 10's in the final hand.
As long as it is a qualifying pair, the game will pay 1:1 on the bet. Two pairs are worth 2:1 and the rate goes up for three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush. However, players should note that not all machines have the same rates for the different hand rankings. There are quite a few variations here, and it is essential to find the best one to maximise potential profits.
The house edge also depends on the rates offered for hands. A familiar paytable for Jacks or Better offers:
- 800:1 for a Royal Flush
- 50:1 for a Straight Flush
- 25:1 for Four of a Kind
- 9:1 for a Full House
- 6:1 for a Flush
- 4:1 for a Straight
- 3:1 for Three of a Kind
- 2:1 for Two Pairs
- 1:1 for a Pair of Jacks or higher
In this case, the theoretical return to player rate is of about 99.54%.
If the payout rates are smaller, then the house edge is higher. Differences in payout amounts will subsequently occur. The number of coins wagered can play a prominent role since most video poker machines will have boosted payout rates for a royal flush when betting the maximum of five coins. If we are to take the same example from above and use a wager of a single coin, the table in the same machine can only offer 250:1 for a royal flush.
After betting and landing a winning combination, most video poker machines include a double feature. You can choose to collect your prize or enter the mini-game for the chance to multiply it once or several times. While the classic doubling game requires the player to guess the colour of a random card, video poker games use something different. The wheels will spin to reveal five random cards on the screen, the first of which is facing up. The goal here is to pick a card that is of higher value than the one displayed. When guessed correctly, the prize is doubled. If not, you lose the amount. You can opt to double the winnings multiple times in a row or collect them at any point.
As we covered earlier, it is essential to pick the right video poker machine. This is very easy when playing online since you can quickly check out different variants of Jacks or Better and compare their paytables. Keep in mind that variations can be found for the different hand rankings and not just for a royal flush. In fact, getting a royal flush is very rare, and so its payout rate is not as important as it is for the weaker hands. The example paytable we mentioned should be the minimum you play so make sure to check the rates before betting real money.
Once you are ready to go, it is best to bet the maximum amount of coins to benefit from the boosted payout for a royal flush, just in case. This means betting five coins per every wager. You can set the size of the coin to make sure that the total bet fits your bankroll.
Since video poker is a game where the player can influence the outcome of a round, this game of skill will require players to make the right decisions to maximise profits. Some easy-to-follow moves are provided by our team of experts with countless hours of experience playing Jacks or Better Video Poker.
The first tip is to keep in a high pair unless you have a royal flush or a straight flush draw. In these scenarios, it is better to break the pair for the chance to complete the much stronger hand for a bigger payout.
If you have a low pair (up to the required minimum for a payout), it is recommended to hold it and exchange the other three cards. A small pair has the best potential to improve into two pairs, three of a kind, or even a full house. Exceptions apply for straight and flush draws.
An expert move in video poker is to hold the four cards for an outside straight, which can be completed on both ends. In this case, there are eight cards in the deck that can achieve the straight, which makes it a better route than holding the high cards. However, inside straights are harder to get since there are only four cards that can be used to form the hand. In this case, it is better to hold the top two cards if there is nothing better.
The bottom line is that video poker machines are arguably one of the most profitable casino games for players. Their high return to player rates makes them more attractive compared to other gaming options, and they are also very entertaining to play. The potential to win significant sums of money is present with every hand, and it only takes a bit of luck to get four of a kind or even a royal flush.
The drawback is that video poker is not as easy to play as video slots or most table games for that matter. Players have to pay attention and make the right decisions when holding cards to maximise the potential for winning. Some basic poker knowledge is required and this can discourage some players from trying them out.