Playing Extremely Poor Hands in Jacks or Better for Fun and Profit

Published on: February 12, 2014 

More than half the time in Jacks or Better video poker, you're going to be dealt a hand that does not give you a good draw and is not guaranteed a payout. If you want to really get good at this game, you have to learn how to play the bad hands that you're dealt in the best ways possible. In what follows, we're going to show you how to play hands when you aren't even dealt a pair and you don't have a good draw. This is a majority of the hands that you're going to be dealt, and maximizing your value from them will help to maximize your chances of winning.

If you have no pair, no flush draw and no straight draw, then the ideal situation is to have two or three suited cards. If you have two or three suited cards that are jacks or higher, then keep them and discard the rest. Otherwise, if you have three to a straight flush, even if it includes low cards, then make that long-shot draw. In the absence of that, you're looking at hoping that you have two or more high cards that are not of the same suit.

If this is the case, then you'll want to keep those two high cards and discard the rest. However, if you have three high cards that are offsuit, then you should keep the bottom two. This seems backwards, but it's the correct way to play. If you happen to be dealt AKQJ of four different suits, however, then just discard one. From here, things get pretty complicated since you're having to make the most out of basically being dealt nothing worth anything in this game.

If you are dealt just one high card, then you have a couple of options. If you're dealt a king, queen or jack along with a ten that has the same suit, then keep both the high card and the ten, but remember this is only if they are suited, and it does not apply to an ace-ten combination. If you just have one high card without a suited ten to pair it with, then you'll only keep one high card. If you don't have at least one high card, then discard all five of your cards every single time. Some people try to keep a couple of cards that are close to each other, but that's a mistake.

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