How to Play a Winning Hand

Jacks or Better is one of the most common and popular video poker games - and or good reason: the principles of the game carry over to almost every other video poker game. Improving your game at Jacks or Better will improve your game overall. Want to get better at the game? Try these tricks to win more chips.

What's Your Hand?

There are 3 types of hands to think about when you're playing poker. The first is pair-based hands, which includes 1 pair, 2 pair and 3 of a kind. Higher-ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs, same goes for a higher valued 3 of a kind compared to lower valued 3 of a kind. If you ever draw a pair-based hand, you'll want to keep the pair and ditch the rest in hopes of drawing an even better hand. Sometimes, though, it's better to dump a pair-based hand and go with a strong draw such as 3 to royal or 4 to a straight flush.

What is a Basic Draw?

Basic draws are straight or flush draws. A straight contains 5 cards of sequential rank in at least 2 different suits. A flush is when the hand contains cards in the same suit but not necessarily in the same sequence. You'll want to keep a pair of Jacks or higher over these types of draws. If you draw a low pair, keep the flush draws but discard the straight draws as they have less of a chance at hitting and typically pay out worse when they do hit. Straight flush draws trump any pair. A straight flush contains 5 cards in sequence, all in the same suit.

What if You Have a Bad Hand?

Sometimes players are dealt a hand that doesn't have a pair or a clean draw. But don't give up. The key is to play smart. Playing these hands the right way can increase your bottom line. If you are dealt a random hand such as AKQ52 with no possibility of a flush, which cards should you keep? Your first guess might be to keep the Ace, King and Queen, but the right move is to keep the king and the queen and discard the rest. Keeping this royal duo will increase your chances for a straight. A high card or no pair hand occurs when the player gets a random hand such as KQ952. These 5 cards don't meet any of the above requirements. In these cases, the only thing with any potential value is the highest card.

The above tricks are simple to remember, and will help you win your next game of Jacks or Better. Not only that, but these skills will help you play other casino games as well.