Jacks or Better

In the early days, Jacks or Better WAS Video Poker. The game is still popular amongst gamblers today, even though there are now dozens of other variants which (in my opinion) offer far more excitement than regular old Jacks or Better Video Poker, including a wide range of other poker games too.

Why is this? When Jacks or Better was first devised, its inventor chose to offer only small prizes for every hand other than a Straight Flush, or a Royal Flush. The problem is, both of these hands are just as rare in Video Poker as they are in a game of regular poker.

Even if you play this game for several hours every single day, it could still take many months – possibly even a year or more – before you hit one of these elusive top-tier hands. The reason for this is that your chances of being dealt a natural royal flush are 1 in 649,740.

This reduces enormously if, for example, you are dealt three to a royal and only need to hit the other two cards, but I think this makes it clear – you are going to be waiting a long time in between big hits if you stick to playing Jacks or Better!

Michael Shakleton, also known as the Wizard of Odds, has calculated that your chances of hitting a royal flush in Jacks or Better are 1 in 40,388 with all other factors taken into account. The craziest thing is that even though the Straight Flush pays a mere fraction of the prize awarded for a Royal Flush, yet your odds of hitting one are only marginally better.

These issues were quickly spotted by avid players of Video Poker machines, which led to the development of alternatives such as Deuces Wild, Aces & Eights, and Double Double Bonus Poker.

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