In this section, we’ll outline a simple strategy for Jacks or Better poker machines. The first strategy chart will outline the strategy for full pay (9/6) machines and 8/5 machines. If you want to take your video poker more seriously you can research correct strategy for any pay table or variation you come across. That being said, you’ll do pretty well on any Jacks or Better machine using this strategy. This strategy will get you an expected return of between 99.10 and 99.50 percent on a 9/6 or 8/5 Jacks or Better machine.


  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • 4 to a straight flush
  • Two Pair
  • Pair of Jacks or Better
  • 3 to a Royal Flush (eg: 10 K A of Diamonds)
  • 4 to a flush
  • low pair (2 through 10)
  • 4 to an outside straights
  • two suited high cards (J Q K A)
  • 3 to a straight flush
  • 2 unsuited high cards (J Q K A)
  • Suited 10/J J/Q or Q/K
  • One high card
  • Discard everything


It’s very important to follow the strategy outlined above—or another strategy of your choosing—exactly. Some players will deviate from the strategy and ‘play a hunch‘ in certain situations. Sometimes they guess right but over the long term, this will hurt much more than it’ll help. Remember that everything the video poker machine does is randomized—machines don’t ‘get hot‘ or ‘go cold‘ so if you try to play them accordingly you’re throwing your money away. Furthermore, it may seem that certain machines produce more of a specific hand relative to other hands—eg: more three of a kind than two pairs, more full houses than three of a kind or whatever. In the short run, you may very well see an inordinate number of completed straights, flushes or other hands. In the long term, however, it all evens out. The initial cards you’re dealt are completely randomized. So too are the replacement cards that you draw. The more you grasp this concept the less inclined you are to buy into ‘hunches‘ and ‘luck‘ and the better you’ll do in the long term.

I’m often asked by novice video poker players if they should change machines during a losing run. The answer—it doesn’t really matter from a statistical standpoint. That being said, it also won’t really hurt you either so if it makes you feel better do it. I’m notorious for leaving one machine for another just because I like the view of the casino better, it’s less crowded, the person playing next to me smells bad or other arbitrary reasons. One reason I don’t change machines is to find one that is ‘luckier‘ than the one I’m currently playing.

There are plenty of other superstitious that get the same answer: are machines in the no smoking section ‘tighter‘ than other machines? Are machines in the front of the casino/near the showroom/near the buffet/near the restroom ‘looser‘ or ‘tighter‘ than other machines in a property? In each case, the answer depends on which specific paytables the casinos have in certain areas but there is no industry-wide standard.

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The above tips apply only to Jacks or Better games. Every video poker variant has a different strategy and the right play on one variation might be the wrong play on another. For example, on a Jacks or Better machine drawing to an inside straight is the wrong play. On a Deuces Wild machine, it’s a correct play under most strategies. It is essential to use the correct strategy for the video poker variation that you’re playing and if possible for the specific paytable.