Jacks or better video poker strategy is complicated. Lots of rules for how to play, which hands rank over which other hands, etc. Probably the most complex issues are the exceptions to the strategy rules, and optimum play has many exceptions.
But if you’re just casual jacks or better player, and you want to have some fun, maybe get some free drinks, and not lose as much as a typical slots player, then you can probably get by not knowing optimum strategy. You can just remember a few simple tips and use some common sense, and you’ll fare pretty well.
• Don’t fight the machine; let it deal you a winner. You will rarely try to draw to a better hand if you’ve already been deal a hand that wins some money. In fact, you’ll probably limit this to when you have a shot at a royal flush, which has such a huge jackpot that it’s worth drawing to.
• Never keep a kicker. A kicker is an extra high card that you hold with a pair. This only reduces your chances of getting 3 of a kind, which adds significantly to your expectation.
• Never draw to an inside straight unless you have at least 3 high cards. (And theoretically, if you have JQKA, you’ve got 4 high cards.)
• Never keep 3 cards to a straight or to a flush.
• Sometimes keep 3 cards to a royal flush.
• When you do decide to start using the basic strategy charts for video poker, don’t deviate based on hunches.
• Don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose.
• Understand the expected cost per hour to play. On a quarter machine, you’re going to put $750/hour through the game. If you give up 2%, then it’s costing you $15/hour to play.
• Join the slot club so you get your rebates and comps. This will reduce your hourly cost.
• If you like expensive liquor or beer, one of the best times to drink it is when you’re playing jacks or better, because they’ll bring it to you for free. This will also help reduce your hourly cost, albeit via barter rather than actual dollars.
The most important jacks or better tip that anyone can offer you is to remember to have fun. It’s a game. Don’t get so bogged down in trying to maximize your return that you forget to enjoy yourself.
Have a look also at our deuces wild tips if you want to try something else in the video poker realm that’s interesting.