Jacks or Better video poker, from NetEnt, the big name in online gaming, is the most played online video poker variant. All those people can’t be wrong – and of course they’re not. It’s got a 99.56% RTP (Return to Player). That beats most slots and online video games hands down!

Although the house starts out with a really small edge, is it possible to nudge the odds even further in your favour? Actually it is, and we’ll take a look at how you can go about this. But don’t forget that as well as the great RTP, in UK online casinos, video poker often qualifies for bonuses, and special promotions – so it’s a very attractive proposition.

Playing Jacks or Better video poker

You’ll need to know the hands that count in poker, from the basic high card, through the pairs and triplets, to the runs, flushes, full houses, fours and royal flushes. (Some people say “run”, others say “straight”).

When you start the game, you’ll see the pay table prominently displayed. It shows the multipliers that will apply to your stake, if you get the listed hands. You’ll also see the five cards you’ve been dealt, with a “hold” button under each. You simply hold the ones you want and get the draw on the ones you want to discard.

This being Netent, there’s also a little extra wager – you can place a double-up bet on the colour of the next card. But the main objective of the game is to get at least a pair of Jacks which guarantees you a payout.

Optimal strategy Jacks or Better

If you want to increase your edge against the house, you need to know when to hold some cards, and when to discard your entire hand. There’s a strategy which defines those hands you should play, and those hands that aren’t worth trying to improve. For hands you can’t improve, you should discard the entire hand and get a fresh set of five cards.

Obviously, four of a kind, also known as quads, is a keeper. As is a straight flush, let alone a royal flush. Run (straight), three of a kind (triplets), flush or a full house – play these hands.

The skill and strategy comes in when you don’t have that kind of no-brainer win on your hands. So let’s look at the hands you’re more likely to be dealing with most of the time, and the best strategy for playing them

Four card strategy

  • If you have four cards towards a royal flush or a straight flush, stay in and draw on the single.
  • If you have two pairs, stay in and draw on the single.
  • If you have four of an open ended run, stay in and draw. (This is a run eg 4,5,6,7, where you could draw a card to add to either end of the run).

Three card strategy

  • Three cards towards a royal flush – stay in, and draw two.
  • Three cards towards a straight flush – stay in, and draw two.

Two card strategy

  • If you have a pair of Jacks or better, stay in and draw three.
  • One pair, up to 10s – stay in, and draw three.
  • Two cards of the same suit that are Jacks or better, stay in and draw three.
  • Two cards, different suits, Jacks or higher – stay in and draw three.
  • A ten and a face card that are the same suit – stay in and draw three.
  • Single card Jack – stay in and draw four.

Otherwise – discard all five cards.

How much to bet

Always bet the full five coins allowed. This is because, if you do strike a Royal Flush, you’ll generate the Royal Flush / full bet bonus payout and this can be the difference between 800/1 and 250/1.

You’ll learn a lot about poker in general, and video poker online, by playing Jacks or Better. It’s a fast, fun game which starts out with a great return on any wager, and can be nudged further in your favour, if you follow this strategy.