Themes With Medium Strength Hands in Jacks or Better Video Poker

April 19, 2013


Medium strength hands are one of the places that most people make the most mistakes in video poker in general. If these hands are understood in a basic game like Jacks or Better, then the principles learned can be translated over to various paytables and wild card situations with a little critical thinking. Here we want to look at the basic types of confusing situations that can come up with these hands and what you should do.

Suppose you're dealt T9544 with a flush draw. In this situation, you should ditch the pair and go for the flush draw. However, suppose you have 76544 without a flush draw. Here, you should keep the small pair. The reason for this difference is that a flush draw has a better chance to happen with a better payoff when it does happen. An open-ended straight draw isn't nearly as strong as a flush draw in video poker. Generally speaking, flush draws are better than low pairs, and low pairs are better than open-ended straight draws. If your open-ended straight draw contains at least two high cards, then it starts to be close. With three high cards, you should draw to the straight because of the extra outs to paying hands. For example, with KQJTT, you should ditch the ten and draw to the straight.

Another common situation that's fairly difficult to work out in the moment is when you have a hand like QsJs9s4h3c. Many players can't decide if they should keep the nine of spades or if they should just draw to the queen and the jack. Generally speaking, you'll want to draw to two suited high cards before you draw to three to a straight flush. However, the exception is if you have three to a royal flush. If this hand was QsJsTs4h3c instead, then the best play by far would be to draw to the royal, and it's not even close.

Whenever you have king-high, queen-high or jack-high with a ten in your hand, some players think you should always keep the ten, and others think that you never should. Both types of players are wrong. You should only keep a suited king-ten, queen-ten, or jack-ten combination if you don't have two offsuit high cards to go with. With a hand like KT952 with no flush draw, for example, you should always keep the king-ten combination if it is suited.