5 Reasons Why Jacks or Better Is Better Than Deuces Wild

By in Video Poker on
6 Minute Read

Jacks or Better is by far my favorite video poker variation. But it’s not the only game I play. I also enjoy changing things up and playing Deuces Wild sometimes.

Both of these games belong on any list of the best games offered by casinos. They offer a return to player percentage higher than any other game than blackjack, and an argument can be made that they’re both better than blackjack for other reasons.

But which of the 2 video poker options is the best? Here are 5 reasons why Jacks or Better is a better game than Deuces Wild.

1 – Jacks or Better Is Easier to Play

Jacks or Better video poker is the easiest video poker game I’ve ever played. It helps that I learned how to play 5 card draw poker when I was growing up, but this is an extremely simple game. You start with 5 cards dealt out of a 52 card deck of cards.

You look at your 5 cards and decide how many to keep and how many to trade in for new cards. You can clearly see what each possible hand pays on the pay table, and you can determine how likely you are to improve your hand any time you draw new cards.

You don’t have to worry about wild cards or bonus rounds or much of anything else. All you need is an understanding of the rank of poker hands. It helps if you can figure out the odds of getting cards you need to complete a better hand, but this isn’t a requirement to play Jacks or Better.

When you play Deuces Wild there are more hands that you can complete, and the lowest paying hand is 3 of a kind. In Jacks or Better you only need a pair of face cards or better to have a paying hand.

I cover more about using strategy in a different section in this article, but it’s easier to use Jacks or Better strategy than to use Deuces Wild strategy. This is important because using strategy is the main way to improve the return to player numbers when you play video poker games.

2 – Simple Pay Table

Jacks or Better has a simple pay table. The pay table on Deuces Wild machines isn’t too much more complicated than Jacks or Better, but it’s definitely more complicated.

The main thing that can be confusing about playing Jacks or Better or other video poker games is the different pay amounts listed under the number of coins that you bet. The good news is that there’s a simple way to avoid any confusion.

I always risk 5 coins on every hand when I play real money video poker. The reason why I always bet 5 coins is to be eligible for the bonus amount I win when I hit a royal flush. And this is why you should ignore all of the other options when you play video poker and just use the 5 coin option.

When you bet 5 coins, the only section of the pay table you need to look at is the 1 on the far right. This helps keep things simple while unlocking the bonus amount when you hit a big hand.

A Jacks or Better Pay Table Only Has 9 Lines

At the top is a royal flush and it pays 4,000 coins. The coin size is set by the machine. The most common coin sizes for Jacks or better machines are 25 cents and $1. This means that you’re betting $1.25 or $5 on each hand.

Under the royal flush are a straight flush and the hands go down to a pair of jacks or higher. A pair of jacks, or higher, pays 5 coins, which is basically breaking even on the hand.

3 – Easier Strategy

Any time you play video poker you can use strategy to improve your odds. In fact, every time you play video poker you need to use strategy.

Every video poker game gives you 2 options when you use strategy. You can try to determine the best play using the odds or you can skip this and use a strategy card. I’ve done it both ways and using a strategy card is the way to go. But it’s helpful to understand how a strategy card has been compiled.

The quick way to do this is to figure out how many cards are left that complete your hand. If you have 2 pairs, there are 4 cards left to complete a full house. The deck has 47 cards left after your first 5 cards, so the odds are 4 out of 47 to improve to a full house.

Jacks or better has the easiest strategy card to use, especially when you compare it to a Deuces Wild strategy card. Here’s a quick strategy chart you can use when you play Jacks or Better. I recommend picking up a more detailed strategy card if you play a lot of Jacks or Better.

  • When you have a paying hand in your first 5 cards, keep the paying hand. The only exception is if you have 4 cards to a royal flush you draw to it instead of keeping a straight or a flush.
  • The next list of hands to keep, in order, are 3 cards to a royal flush draw, 4 cards to a flush draw, a pair of 10’s or lower, and an open end straight draw.
  • The final set of hands to keep, in order, are 2 face cards or aces the same suit, 3 cards to a straight flush draw, 2 face cards or aces that aren’t the same suit, a face card and a 10 of the same suit, and a single card jack or higher.

4 – More Machines

When you want to play video poker you have to be able to find machines. When you want to play mobile or online video poker, this is easy to do. But when you gamble in a live casino it’s more difficult to find video poker machines.

The fact is that there are more Jacks or Better video poker machines available in live casinos than any other version. If a casino has video poker games available, the odds are very high that at least 1 of the machines they have is a Jacks or Better machine.

The machine you find might not have the best pay table, but this is true for every variation of video poker. When you play Jacks or Better video poker, you really need to find a machine that pays 30 coins for a flush and pays 45 coins for a full house. This is the best pay table, and it’s available in most large casinos.

These machines are available online in many casinos and also in many mobile casinos. If you’re having a hard time finding this pay table in a land based casino, consider playing online or mobile video poker.

5 – The Classic Video Poker Game

Jacks or Better is the classic video poker. It’s the game that started the video poker boom in the 1970’s. And it’s still the most popular video poker version available today.

The main reasons why Jacks or Better is still the most popular variation of video poker includes the reasons I list in this article about why it’s better than Deuces Wild.

Even if you’ve never played video poker before, you can sit down and quickly learn how to play Jacks or Better. The only thing you need to understand is how each listed hand is constructed. In other words, you need to know what a flush is, what a straight is, etc.

I like the idea of playing the video poker game that started it all. And Jacks or Better is the classic. The game hasn’t changed a bit since it was first released. Other games have been introduced, but none of them has been able to replace Jacks or Better at the top of the heap.


The truth is that Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild are both great video poker games. With a good pay table and a strategy card you can get a return to player over 99.5%. But there are a few important things that push Jacks or Better slightly ahead.

Jacks or Better video poker is easier to play, has a simpler pay table, and a much easier strategy. It’s also the game that started the video poker explosion, so there are more machines available.

You can’t go wrong choosing either video poker game, but Jacks or Better needs to be your first choice.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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