Jacks or Better Poker Strategy for iPad

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Jacks or Better, also known as Draw Poker, is a variation of traditional video poker. As the name of the game implies, the payoffs start with a pair of jacks. Sometimes the game is also called 9/6 Jacks or Better, which refers to the payoff for a full house (9 credits) or a flush (6 credits). Hands with a value lower than a pair of jacks win nothing. A full deck of 52 cards is used to play the game. You’ll be dealt an initial hand after you choose the amount of money you want to wager on the outcome (by pressing the DEAL/DRAW button), and then you’ll have the option to keep or return all of some of your cards with the DEAL/DRAW button. The new cards will replace the cards you are discarding in the same positions.

The combinations you can achieve in Jacks or Better should be familiar to you if you’ve ever played any form of poker. One pair of jacks or better is where the payoffs start (i.e. 2 jacks, 2 queens, 2 kings, or 2 aces). Two pairs is the next level up, followed by three of a kind. A straight is even better (five cards in a sequence; the suite is irrelevant), and a flush ranks above that—that’s five cards of the same suit, in or out of sequence. A full house is a three of a kind and a pair, and right above that is four of a kind. The second highest combination you can achieve is a straight flush, which is five cards in a sequence in the same suit. A royal flush is the highest achievement with the best payoff, which is A-K-Q-J-10, all in the same suit.

Jacks or Better revolves around trying to make intelligent decisions about which cards to hold onto and which ones to trade off, and how many of each. Many different gamblers have developed different strategies for Jacks or Better. These strategies are typically presented in a chart format, and they are relatively easy to memorize. The idea is to try and discharge cards based on the hand you’ve been dealt until you have a winning combination. You have to think through all the possibilities in order to make sure you don’t miss any, starting at the top of the list with the combination with the highest payout.

So the first thing you would do when you’re dealt a hand is ask yourself the obvious question: Do you have a royal straight flush? If so, you have the perfect hand and you would not want to discharge any of your cards. Similarly, a straight flush is really hard to achieve and has a great payoff, so if you have one, you won’t want to discharge anything. If you have four of a kind, you already have a great hand, but it could be better if you can achieve a flush (which is technically just five of a kind). So you’d trade in a single card and hold onto the four of a kind to see if you can get a flush. If you have four cards of a straight flush or royal straight flush combination, you’d trade in a single card to see if you could complete the combination. If you have a full house or a flush, you already have a great combination, so you wouldn’t do anything.

If you have three of a kind, you would keep the three of a kind and trade in your other two cards in hopes of achieving a higher combination. With a straight you’d do nothing (hold your cards), and with two pairs you’d hold four cards and trade in the other to see if you can get three of a kind.

As you work your way down the list you hold fewer and fewer of your cards, because things can only get better. It’s not even that challenging to understand/remember what to do when you have less useful hands. For example, you might have three cards to a straight flush with two gaps and two high end cards. In this case you’d hold the three and release the two. As your hand improves, you work your way up the chart until you close in on the highest possible payout for your hand given your circumstances.

As you hopefully have realized, there’s a logic behind all of these decisions, so while you can simply memorize a chart for Jacks or Better strategy, it’s easier to remember these decisions if you understand their basis. So have a look at a chart and think through it until you understand it. Play conservatively and hold onto the good cards you have; work on bettering your hand until you get the best combination each time.

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