One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker Guide

One-Eyed JackOne-Eyed Jacks video poker adds a fascinating twist to the common wild card games that are popular with video poker players. The game makes a wild card out of the two one-eyed Jacks in the deck which are the jack of hearts and jack of spades. Having a pair of wild cards in play allows players to grab some impressive winning hands.

Video poker can be broken down by pay table or style of play. Jacks or Better is the simplest game on both accounts, allowing for anyone who has ever played Five-Card Draw poker to understand it quickly while playing with a basic pay table. By contrast, bonus video poker games add different pay tables so that players have increased chances at jackpot-style payments on a single hand.

Wild card games, meanwhile, add a little wrinkle on the style of play for video poker. When a player is dealt or draws a wild card, they are allowed to substitute any other card in the deck for it. The idea is to use the wild cards to make the best possible hand you can.

There are two wild card games that are very popular with video poker players. Deuces Wild designates the four 2s in the 52-card deck as wild. Meanwhile, Joker Poker includes a 53rd card, the joker, and designates it as the lone card.

One-Eyed Jacks video poker settles in between those two extremes with a pair of wild cards in a standard 52-card deck. These two wild cards are the so-called “one-eyed jacks” in the deck. Anyone familiar with a deck of cards knows that the jack of hearts and the jack of spades are depicted on the cards as having just one eye.

Therefore, when these two cards come up in One-Eyed Jacks video poker, they become wild cards. Combined with a pay table that really puts a premium on big hands, these wild cards really put some lucrative possibilities at the fingertips of video poker players. Seeing one of those one-eyed Jacks come up is a good sign that you have a potentially great hand within reach.

However, One-Eyed Jacks video poker creates some interesting strategic twists that might confound inexperienced players. On top of that, the payouts for lesser hands are somewhat modest. That means that it’s hard to sustain a bankroll in the game without getting some of those big hands that we mentioned.

In the following article, we’ll take a close look at how One-Eyed Jacks video poker works in terms of gameplay and strategy. We’ll also examine the pay tables and payback percentages, which help determine if the game is worthwhile compared to other video poker games. Finally, we’ll assess the strengths and weaknesses of the game, so you can decide whether or not it’s the right choice for you, whether you’re in a casino or playing the game online.

Learning Basic Video Poker

Since One-Eyed Jacks video poker is a relatively unique version of video poker with a somewhat odd structure, it might not be a good idea to jump right into playing the game. This is especially true if you are going to be playing for money. Instead, it’s a good idea to get yourself acquainted with basic video poker before you proceed to this game.

Luckily, video poker isn’t that hard to learn, even if you’re a newcomer to the game. If you’re at all familiar with Five-Card Draw poker, you’ll have a head start. Video poker is, after all, a simulated version of that game.

Video poker is also governed to a great deal by probabilities. Your probabilities of making a winning hand will help you decide which cards to hold from your original deal and which to discard. And the probabilities of making hands, along with the pay structure for those hands, help to determine which video poker machines are the most lucrative for players.

In fact, video poker holds an edge over slot machines, which are usually located next to them in the casino for those very reasons. There are no probabilities in which you can hang your hat with slot machines. Nor do you have any control over gameplay, as you do in video poker.

But video poker also holds a distinct advantage over table games. Table games also involve strategies and probabilities, just as video poker does. But table games require you to know the protocol of how to play, or you’ll be pressured by other gamblers and casino workers.

Video poker allows you to play all by yourself with nobody else to worry about what you’re doing. And its payback to players is on par or better with any table game you can mention. It easily outdoes slot machines in that department as well.

As you can tell, there is a lot to like about video poker games. If you’ve never played one before, it’s easy. Just follow along with this step-by-step explanation.

  • Establish a Bankroll: This is the money you’ll be wagering, which comes in the form of cash if you’re playing on a machine or as an account that you create online at a gambling website. The bankroll should be large enough that you can play for as long as you wish at the denomination that you’ve chosen. Your bankroll will be rendered in credits or coins, with each one of those equal to the amount of the denomination that you’ve chosen.
  • Make a Bet: Most video poker games, including One-Eyed Jacks video poker, give you the choice of wagering between one and five coins per hand. This choice is up to you, but it’s highly recommended that you make the maximum wager of five coins for each and every hand you play. The reason for this is that the payout for the royal flush wager is much more lucrative at the five-coin level than it is for those who bet one through five coins.
  • Examine Your Deal: When you hit the “deal” button, five cards will appear on your screen from a 52-card deck. The probability of your receiving specific cards on the deal is completely random. Ideally, your five cards will either comprise one of the winning hands on the pay table or, at least, have a good possibility of making one of those hands with a little improvement.
  • Make Your Decisions for the Draw: The draw round is your opportunity to improve your initial hand. You decide which cards, if any, you would like to keep and which, if any, you’d like to discard. This is when strategy comes into play, as you’ll often have multiple possibilities at this point to perhaps draw to various winning hands.
  • Finishing the Hand: Once you have made your decision, you will be given cards from the 47 remaining in the deck to replace the ones that you discarded. At that point, the hand is complete. Your bankroll will be credited if you have managed a winning hand.
  • Playing It All Over Again: You can continue in this fashion as long as you have credits remaining in your bankroll, or you can cash out if you choose and take your redemption ticket to other machines. You can also take this ticket and redeem it for cash.

That is the basic gist of video poker. Once you have that down, you’re ready to move on and try something a little different such as One-Eyed Jacks video poker.

Playing One-Eyed Jacks as Wild Cards

The key element that separates One-Eyed Jacks video poker from other games is the usage of the jack of spades and jack of hearts as wild cards. That means that, when you are dealt one or both of those cards or draw them, they can be substituted for any other card in the deck. They don’t necessarily have to be, but in the vast majority of the situations that will arise, it will be more beneficial to your hand if they become something else.

Let’s take a look at how the wild card element of One-Eyed Jacks video poker really transforms things. Here is a sample deal that you might get during gameplay:

Three of Spades, Five of Diamonds, Eight of Clubs, Nine of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts

Normally, this wouldn’t be a hand of any note. In fact, you might consider throwing all five cards back, especially if you were playing with a pay table that required a rarer hand than a pair to be a winner.

But the jack of hearts, as we said above, is a wild card in One-Eyed Jacks video poker. That means that it can be transformed into any other card in the deck. This still isn’t a winning hand as is, but at least you have the opportunity to take the jack with you as a wild card into the draw.

If that is your decision, it would mean four new cards would be coming on the draw. Let’s take a look at the draw:

Four of Diamonds, Six of Diamonds, Eight of Diamonds, Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts

If there were no wild cards in play, this hand would be nothing more than a pair of jacks. But you’ve drawn the two cards that have been designated as wild in One-Eyed Jacks video poker. And because of that, you can make a straight flush out of the hand.

How? Well, one jack can be turned into the five of diamonds, and the other can become the seven of diamonds. That makes for a four through eight of diamonds, and an excellent hand.

That gives you an idea of how the one-eyed jacks can really change the course of gameplay. It allows you to have a much better chance at big hands, like the straight flush above, that would be extremely rare without the wild cards. And, as a result, more big payoffs are in play as well.

There is one other important thing to remember when it comes to the wild cards in One-Eyed Jacks video poker. You don’t necessarily have to turn them into something else. Imagine the following hand:

Ten of Hearts, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts, Ace of Hearts

That is a royal flush without any changes that need to be made to the hand. The jack of hearts is a part of the hand, but it need not be switched. After all, the natural royal flush is the most lucrative hand in all of video poker, so there wouldn’t be any need for you to look for a better card.

Compare that hand to the following hand:

Ten of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, King of Diamonds, Ace of Diamonds

As you can see, this is not a natural royal flush as constituted. It is, however, a wild royal flush, which means that it becomes a royal flush with the help of a wild card, in this case, the jack of hearts becoming the jack of diamonds.

The distinction between a natural royal flush and a wild royal flush becomes important in One-Eyed Jacks video poker. They receive significantly different payouts, as you will see now as we look at the pay tables.

Pay Tables for One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker

When you play video poker of any kind, one of the first things that you’ll notice is the pay table. The pay table is what enables you to see how much you will receive for each winning hand. Knowing this information, you can then decide how beneficial it is for you to try and achieve certain hands on the draw based on the probabilities.

In terms of One-Eyed Jacks video poker, it’s important to understand how that pay table stands out from other games of its kind. The following pay table is one that is the highest-paying version of the game, also known as the full-pay version:

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Wild Royal Flush 200 400 600 800 1000
Five of a kind 75 150 225 300 375
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Full house 5 10 15 20 25
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5

What you see here is the number of coins that you’ll receive for each winning hand that is available. If you need to know how to read the table, simply follow the hand that you’ve achieved over to the column showing how much you’ve bet. For example, a straight hand accomplished with five coins wagered pays off at ten coins.

One thing you might notice right off the bat is how much higher the odds are for a royal flush played with five coins compared to one achieved with one through four coins played. That is the reason why we have to stress yet again that a maximum bet on each hand is highly advisable. Otherwise, you could really bring down your chances of winning big.

What makes this pay table special? Well, it’s a relatively top-heavy pay table, meaning that much of the payouts for the game are concentrated on the rarer hands. As a comparison, let’s take a look at a pay table for the full-pay version of Deuces Wild video poker game, which is probably the closest thing to One-Eyed Jacks, in terms of gameplay, that you’ll find in a casino or online:

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Four deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild Royal Flush 25 50 75 100 125
Five of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
Four of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Full house 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Straight 1 2 3 4 5
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

Obviously, there is no special payout for a hand of four deuces in One-Eyed Jacks video poker, so that’s one difference. But you can see how One-Eyed Jacks also offers higher payouts on comparable hands. For example:

  • Deuces Wild: 25-1 for Wild Royal Flush
  • One-Eyed Jacks: 200-1 for Wild Royal Flush
  • Deuces Wild: 15-1 for Five of a Kind
  • One-Eyed Jacks: 75-1 for Five of a Kind
  • Deuces Wild: 9-1 for Straight Flush
  • One-Eyed Jacks: 50-1 for Straight Flush

And on it goes like that for most of the pay table. A big part of the reason for that is, with Deuces Wild, you have four wild cards, compared to just two in the deck with One-Eyed Jacks video poker. That means that those big hands are easier to achieve for those playing Deuces Wild.

But beyond that, you can see how much more heavily weighted the One-Eyed Jacks video poker pay table is toward those high-paying hands. To compensate for that, the pay table gives out low payments for hands like a three of a kind and two pair, hands that come up often during gameplay.

That leads to One-Eyed Jacks video poker being what’s known as a high-volatility game. By high volatility, we mean that it is prone to large momentum swings between winning and losing. Lower volatility games tend to be steadier without so many highs and lows.

With One-Eyed Jacks video poker, you have significant opportunities to score big payouts on single hands, meaning that your bankroll could skyrocket in a hurry. But if those big hands don’t come, you are also in danger of seeing that bankroll drop a lot in a relatively quick game.

When you choose a high-volatility game like One-Eyed Jacks video poker, you should prepare for this by establishing a bigger bankroll. This will allow you to keep playing even during one of the streaks where those big hands aren’t in the offing. Otherwise, you could lose all of your stake in a hurry before you can give it a big boost.

Payback Percentages for One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker

The payback percentage of a particular video poker game lets you know how it stacks up against other games of its kind. It shouldn’t be the only factor that you consider when you decide on a game. After all, the volatility should also be considered, as some people have preferences between high and low volatility games.

But if you’re concerned about how lucrative a video poker game can be over the long haul, payback percentage is where you should be concentrating. The payback percentage is calculated by combining the odds of making certain winning hands with the payouts schedule for those hands. Knowing this information will help you to anticipate how much you can reliably expect in return for your investment in a certain game.

Keep in mind that the payback percentage is only an average and not a hard and fast predictor of what you might reap from a game, especially if you’re only playing for a short time. Those playing a specific video game for a short time will find that they might win or lose a lot more than what the percentage might suggest. That’s because luck plays more of a factor in a short span.

Over a long period of time, playing thousands of hands on a certain machine, your return should start to resemble the percentage. The payback percentage for the One-Eyed Jacks video poker pay table we displayed above sits at 100.3%.

That is a particularly robust payback percentage. Usually, we recommend that you play anything that pays back at over 99%. In those cases, the house edge is minimal and can be eliminated by the bonuses you get from the casino using a club card.

With a percentage over 100, however, you don’t need the bonuses to turn a profit. A payback percentage of 100.3% means that $1,000 played through the machine would leave you, on average, with a bankroll of $1,003. That’s a $3 profit, which means that One-Eyed Jacks video poker, at the full-pay level, eliminates the casino’s house edge.

Very few games of any kind that can be found in a casino give the player the edge. That’s why the full-pay version of One-Eyed Jacks video poker is highly coveted. But, alas, it can be hard to find, especially if you’re not in Nevada, where the vast majority of games that come in at over 100% are found.

You might have to settle instead for a lesser pay table when you come upon a One-Eyed Jacks video poker machine. You’ll notice right away some discrepancies in the pay tables. In most cases, the lesser pay tables won’t pay out as much for hands like the wild royal flush and the straight flush, so look out for those on the pay table right away.

If you do come upon a game with a different pay table, do some quick online research to see if the payback percentage is respectable (99 or above). Unless it comes up to that level, you must be aware that there are many other video poker machines that will pay you a better rate over a long time playing the game.

But you can certainly play a lower than 99% One-Eyed Jacks video poker machine if you’re the type who only wants to play short term and likes more chances at jackpot-type payments. It certainly provides you with plenty of those opportunities.

Developing Strategy for One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker

We talked above about payback percentages for video poker and how it’s calculated. What you also need to understand is that the only way you can conceivably reach those percentages is if you manage to play the game perfectly. By that, we mean that you must make the right decisions every single time when it comes down to which cards to hold and which to discard.

That concept might be hard to grasp for beginning video poker players. After all, how can any decision be wrong when the draw is random and luck comes into play? The key is to understand that the right plays are the ones that will bring you the most value if you played a certain deal many, many times, rather than just once.

Each possible combination of cards that you can be dealt comes with a maximum expected value that you can achieve only by making the right decision. Learning what that decision is can be the tricky part.

Everyone knows that you would hold a four of a kind or a straight flush if they were dealt to you. But what do you do when you have many different choices within a single deal?

Is it better to go for a hand that you have a better chance of making on the draw, even though it might not pay that much? Or should you take a chance on a hand that could bring you a big payout even though you need to get a little lucky on the draw with a certain card or two?

These are the kind of decisions that come into play when you’re playing One-Eyed Jacks video poker, or any video poker for that matter. How do you learn which are the right calls to make? Here are the two best ways that we know.

Video Poker Training Software

When you buy video poker training software (and we do recommend buying it instead of downloading the free, but sometimes flimsy versions), you’re essentially making an investment in your future play. Using this software on a regular basis will help you achieve perfect play. And that can make a difference of several points in terms of your own personal payback percentage.

The software works by simulating video poker gameplay and then alerting you when you make the wrong choice on a hand. It will also let you know what the proper holds and discard should be for that hand. In this way, you learn from your mistakes.

The best training software also allows you to customize play with specific pay tables and wild cards of your choice. In that way, you can tailor your training to a specific game like One-Eyed Jacks video poker. Most free trainers don’t allow you the customizable option, which is why we would recommend against them for all but the most basic video poker variations.

Strategy Cards

The strategy for One-Eyed Jacks video poker is particularly tricky because of the unique presence of two wild cards. Like we mentioned above, there are many Deuces Wild games with four wild cards and Joker Poker games with one. But we’re pretty sure that One-Eyed Jacks is the only one that you’ll find with two wild cards in play.

For that reason, you might have a hard time finding a strategy card for this game. Yet, if you can, a strategy card is an excellent, and free, way for you to learn perfect play. All you have to do is print the card out and memorize all of the information that it contains.

A strategy card works by listing all of the possible combinations of cards you might receive on the deal that could become winning hands. The combinations are then ranked from best to worst. When you see the combination of cards that you have in your hand that ranks highest on the list, you can then discard the cards that aren’t needed.

One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker Pros and Cons


  • The highest-paying machines possess enviable payback percentages
  • Wild cards put big hands into play more often than basic video poker games
  • The pay table gives plenty of opportunities for substantial payouts on single hands

  • It might be hard to find the most lucrative machines
  • Volatile play means that you’ll need a big bankroll to ensure a long stretch of play
  • Strategy is difficult because of the unique structure of two wild cards

Conclusion on One-Eyed Jacks Video Poker

One-Eyed Jacks video poker offers an unusual twist on wild card play for those who find it in casinos or as a part of the best gambling websites. Seeing those one-eyed jacks staring back at you can really lead to some high payouts, but it’s a game that can swallow up your bankroll if the wild cards don’t appear.