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Hold for a Royal Flush?

24 October 2020

A reader has some questions about holding for a royal flush or something else while playing 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker. Here is the inquiry.

Hi Stickman,

I hope things are going well for you.

I have some questions for you that have to do with Jacks or Better. The answers may be obvious to you but I still need your guidance. Here they are and thanks for helping me. So, in your opinion how would you play these hands?

1. 3s, 7h, Th, Jh, Kh.......Should I try for the flush here or the royal flush?

2. 5h, 7c, Tc, Jc, Qc........Again should I try for the flush or the royal flush?

3. 4s, 7h, Th, Jh, Ah.......Do I go for the flush or the royal flush?

4. 2c, 8h, Th, Jh, Qh......Do I go for the straight flush or the royal flush?

Thanks a lot for your help,

Jody


Hi Jody,

The quick answer is: Hold for the royal flush for hands 1, 2, and 3. Hold for the straight flush for hand 4.

My opinion is based on holding for the highest average return for each of the hands you presented. Each of the hands you sent has three cards of a royal flush. This means there is a reasonable chance to get a royal flush and its accompanying 800-for-1 payoff. However, just because a royal flush seems reasonably possible for the hand does not mean that in the long run the player will make the most money by holding for the royal flush.

Here are some specifics for each hand.

Hand one: 3s, 7h, Th, Jh, Kh.

• Holding the four cards of a flush (7h, Th, Jh, Kh) will return 6.3830 credits on average for the five credits bet.
• Holding the three cards of a royal flush (Th, Jh, Kh) will return 6.9149 credits on average.

Holding the three cards of a royal flush returns more than an additional half credit per hand – again, on average.

Hand two: 5h, 7c, Tc, Jc, Qc.

• Holding the four cards of a flush (7c, Tc, Jc, Qc) returns the same 6.3830 credits for the five credits played as the previous hand.
• Holding the three cards of a royal flush (Tc, Jc, Qc) returns 7.3959 credits for the five credits played.

Holding the three cards of the royal flush returns over one additional credit per five credits played. The reason for the additional return is the fact that the three cards of a royal are also a fully open straight flush meaning a straight or straight flush can be completed on both the high (King and Ace) and the low end (8 and 9) of the three cards.

Hand three: 4s, 7h, Th, Jh, Ah.

• Holding the four cards of a flush (7h, Th, Jh, Ah) returns the same 6.3830 credits on average for five credits played as the previous two hands.
• Holding the three cards of a royal flush (Th, Jh, Ah) returns 6.4339 credits on average for the five credits played.

While it is still proper to hold the three cards of a royal flush for this hand, the advantage of doing so is much less – slightly less than 0.05 credits per hand. This is because of the weaker cards in the three cards of a royal flush. There are two gaps (Queen and King) and the ace is generally weaker than any other face card.

Hand four: 2c, 8h, Th, Jh, Qh.

• Holding the four cards of a straight flush (8h, Th, Jh, Qh) returns 12.3404 credits for the five credits played, on average.
• Holding the three cards of a royal flush (Th, Jh, Qh) returns 7.1369 credits for the five credits played, on average.

This hand contains four cards of a straight flush. This is a very powerful hand. Even though the three cards of a royal flush are a strong three cards, they do not outweigh the advantage of the four cards of a straight flush.

Summary:
While holding three cards of a royal flush may provide more royal flushes over time, the hands that don’t score the royal will lose more money on average than the additional royal flushes provide.

It may be tempting to go for every royal flush possible. It is quite a rush when they hit, but a serious video poker player wants to win the most money. This is accomplished by holding the cards that will provide the best return – regardless of whether that is a hold for a royal flush or something else entirely.

This is not my opinion it is a fact.

May all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerry@aol.com
Recent Articles
Best of Jerry Stickman
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com