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Tricky Jacks or Better Video Poker Hands

October 15, 2012

A lot of video poker strategy is easy to learn. However, there are some situations that even seasoned players can mess up on a regular basis. We're going to look at a number of tricky hands in Jacks or Better video poker. With each hand, we'll look at the different ways to play and what the correct way to play is. If you study these example hands, then you'll learn a lot about video poker and the right way to play to maximize your chances of winning.

Let's start with a very common example that people mess up on a consistent basis. Suppose you're dealt As Ks Js 8s 2d. In this situation, you have two main options. Most players would immediately discard the Two of diamonds and draw to the flush. However, a second option is to discard both the Two of diamonds and the Eight of spades to draw to the royal flush. The second option is correct in this situation. Even though the royal has a lower chance of happening, the payout is so much larger than the payout for a regular flush that it jusifies taking the risk.

Here's a hand that requires a similar line of thought. Suppose you are dealt the hand Ac Kc Jc Tc 4c. Most people would celebrate that they had been dealt a flush and discard none. However, you could also try to draw to a royal flush by discarding the Four of clubs. Discarding the Four is the correct play in this type of situation when you only need to throw away one card to try to a royal flush. In fact, the only time that you shouldn't discard one to draw to a royal flush is if you are dealt a King-high straight flush.

Playing big hands well is important because there are large payouts involved. However, playing low hands well is also important because they happen so often. Let's say you are dealt 2c Kd 4h Qs Jc, and you are trying to decide which cards to keep. You could decide to keep the King and Queen, the King and Jack, the Queen and Jack, or all three of the big cards. In this one situation, we see the only case where you should keep all three cards: You should only keep three big unsuited cards if they are the King, Queen and Jack. This gives you the maximum chances to win with chances for a straight and three different pairs.