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Jacks or Better Strategy Card

This page is an adaptation of Michael Shackleford's Jacks or Better strategy card, represented as an intermediate strategy (the optimal strategy is rather convoluted, and the simple strategy does not return as much as you likely want).

Using this strategy on a full pay machine will result in an expected return of 99.52%. To use the strategy look up all viable ways to play an initial hand on the following list and elect that which is highest on the list. A "high card" means a jack or higher.

Full house or better
4 to a royal flush
Straight, three of a kind, or flush
4 to a straight flush
Two pair
High pair
3 to a royal flush
4 to a flush
Low pair
4 to an outside straight
3 to a straight flush (high cards-gaps>=0)
2 suited high cards
4 to an inside straight w/ 3-4 high cards
3 to a straight flush (high cards-gaps=-1)
J/Q/K unsuited
J/Q unsuited
10/J suited
J/K, Q/K unsuited
10/Q suited
J/A, Q/A, K/A unsuited
10/K suited
One high card
3 to a straight flush (high cards-gaps=-2)
Discard everything

Note: The number of high cards in holding 3 to a straight flush is roughly offset by the number of gaps. When evaluating 3 to a straight flush subtract the number of gaps from the number of high cards.


High card: A jack, queen, king, or ace. These cards are retained more often because if paired up they return the original bet.

Outside straight: An open ended straight that can be completed at either end, such as the cards 7,8,9,10.

Inside straight: A straight with a missing inside card, such as the cards 6,7,9,10. In addition A,2,3,4 and J,Q,K,A also count as inside straights because they are at an extreme end.

Gap: The number of ranks needed to fill in the middle of a straight flush. For example a 6,7,8 would have 0 gaps, a 6,7,9 would have 1, and a 6,7,10 would have 2. The following are considered to have 2 gaps because they are at extreme ends: A,2,3; A,2,4; A,3,4; J,Q,A; J,K,A; and Q,K,A. The following are considered to have 1 gap because they are close to an extreme end: 2,3,4 and J,Q,K.

There are many other examples of a jacks or better strategy card available for free on the Internet, but this is one of the best ones.


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