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Questions on Jacks or Better Video Poker

18 December 2021

Question from Jody about Jacks or Better video poker hands.

Hi Stickman,

I'm hoping you're well.]

I have some more questions for you (Jacks Or Better). How would you play the following hands:

1. 8c, 9c, Jc, Qh, Kd?
2. Ah, 9c, 8c, Qc, Js?
3. Ac, 9h, 8h, Kc, Jh?
4. 8s, Js, Qs, Kd, Ad?
5. 9s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc?
6. 8s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc?

Jody

Hi Jody,

I am doing well, thank you. I hope you are the same.

It looks like what you are really asking here is when do you save three cards of a straight flush. More accurately, it may be how much do the number of gaps and high cards in a straight flush hold impact the return.

Let’s take them one at a time. The partial results are listed based on a 9/6 (full-pay) pay table. The holds are listed in high to low return sequence. Different pay tables would slightly alter the return numbers, but not the ranking.

1. 8c, 9c, Jc, Qh, Kd: This hand has a three-card straight flush with one gap and one high card (8c, 9c, Jc). It also has three high cards (Jc, Qh, Kd) as well as two four-card inside straights (9c, Jc, Qh, Kd and 8c, 9c, Jc, Qh).

8c, 9c, Jc – returns 3.0944 for 5.
9c, Jc, Qh, Kd – returns 2.6596 for 5.
Jc, Qh, Kd – returns 2.5023 for 5.
Jc, Qh – returns 2.4271 for 5.
Qh, Kd – returns 2.3827 for 5.
Jc, Kd – returns 2.3827 for 5.
8c, 9c, Jc, Qh – returns 2.3404 for 5.

Three cards of a straight flush wins it by a significant amount. The higher four-card open straight (with three high cards) comes in second. Notice how far down the four-card inside straight with only two high cards lands on the list.

2. Ah, 9c, 8c, Qc, Js: This hand has a three-card straight flush with two gaps and one high card (9c, 8c, Qc,). There are also four cards of an inside straight with two high cards (9c, 8c, Qc, Js) as well as three high cards (Ah, Qc, Js).

9c, 8c, Qc – returns 2.6133 for 5 – much less than the three cards of a straight flush with one gap above (3.0944 for 5) in example 1. Having two gaps makes a big difference.
Qc, Js – returns 2.4419 for 5.
9c, 8c, Qc, Js – returns 2.3404 for 5 – the same as the four-card inside straight with two high cards in example 1.
Ah, Js / Ah, Qc – returns 2.3383 for 5.
Ah, Qc, Js – returns 2.2803 for 5, less than holding the ace with one other high card. This is because there are only two open spots with only 1,081 possible hands versus three open spots and 16,215 possible results.

3. Ac, 9h, 8h, Kc, Jh: This hand contains a three-card straight flush with one gap and one high card (Ac, 9h, 8h, Kc, Jh) and two cards of a royal flush (Ac, Kc).

9h, 8h, Jh – returns 3.1684 for 5.
Ac, Kc – returns 2.8871 for 5.

4. 8s, Js, Qs, Kd, Ad: This hand contains a three-card straight flush with two gaps and two high cards (8s, Js, Qs). It also contains a four-card inside straight with four high cards (Js, Qs, Kd, Ad) and sets of two cards of a royal flush (Js, Qs / Kd, Ad).

8s, Js, Qs – returns 3.1869 for 5.
Js, Qs, Kd, Ad – returns 2.9787 for 5.
Js, Qs – returns 2.8865 for 5.
Kd, Ad – returns 2.8390 for 5.

5. 9s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc: This hand contains a three-card straight flush with one gap and two high cards (9s, Qs, Ts), a four-card inside straight with four high cards (9s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc), a four-card inside straight with three high cards (9s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc), and two two-card royal flushes (Ac, Kc / Qs, Ts).

9s, Qs, Ts – returns 3.0944 for 5.
Ac, Kc – returns 2.8723 for 5.
Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc – returns 2.6596 for 5.

In each of the above hands, the three-card straight flush hold has the highest return. The suited ace/king runs a close second in a couple of cases, but never enough to make it the preferred hold.

6. 8s, Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc: This hand contains the usual three-card straight flush – this time with two gaps and two high cards (8s, Qs, Ts), a four-card inside straight with three high cards (Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc) and two two-card royal flushes (Ac, Kc / Qs, Ts).

Ac, Kc – returns 28723 for 5. In this hand, a two-card royal flush hold is the most powerful.
8s, Qs, Ts – returns 2.6873 for 5.
Ac, Qs, Ts, Kc – returns 2.6596 for 5.

The examples above show that only a very weak three-card straight flush hold will lose out to two suited high cards. In most cases, the proper hold is the three-card straight flush.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”


Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com
Jerry Stickman

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com