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Best of Jerry Stickman

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Playing 8/5 Jacks or Better

18 March 2017

An acquaintance recently asked me to comment on playing the 8/5 version of Jacks or Better. He understands that 9/6 Jacks or Better is a better game to play, but says it is sometimes hard to find such a game.

For those readers who are not familiar with video poker terminology, the Jacks or Better game is one of the first video poker games ever manufactured. The player will get something back, though many times it is only what was bet, if he or she gets a pair of jacks or a better hand.

The 9/6 or 8/5 refers to the payoff for a full house and flush, respectively. The 9/6 game pays nine units for every unit bet for a full house and six units for every unit bet for a flush. The 8/5 version pays eight units per unit bet for a full house and five units per unit bet for a flush.

The original Jacks or Better games paid 9/6 and became known as “full pay” games, since succeeding versions of the game almost exclusively paid less.

A full pay 9/6 Jacks or Better game returns 99.54% of the money played if you play each hand perfectly. Perfect play means saving the cards from each dealt hand that will return the most on average. The pay schedule for the full pay 9/6 game with the maximum five coins played is:

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 4,000
Straight Flush 250
Four of a Kind 125
Full House 45 (9 x the 5 coins played)
Flush 30 (6 x the 5 coins played)
Straight 20
Three of a Kind 15
Two Pair 10
Pair of Jacks or Better 5

An 8/5 Jacks or Better game returns 97.30% of the money played if you play each hand perfectly. The pay schedule for this game with the maximum 5 coins played is:

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 4,000
Straight Flush 250
Four of a Kind 125
Full House 40 (8 x the 5 coins played)
Flush 25 (5 x the 5 coins played)
Straight 20
Three of a Kind 15
Two Pair 10
Pair of Jacks or Better 5

By simply reducing the payout for two of the hands (full house and flush) by one unit per unit bet, the total payback for the game is reduced by more than two percent. In the long run, for every $100 you play through the 8/5 version you will lose $2 more than if you played the 9/6 version. For this reason alone, a savvy player will avoid an 8/5 game.

Many times, a casino that has standard 9/6 Jacks or Better games will have progressive 8/5 Jacks or Better games. Part of the added profit the casino takes in these lower paybacks is added to a jackpot that pays off when you get a royal flush.

Generally, the progressive jackpot starts at 4,000 units. It very slowly moves upward as people play the progressive machine or group of machines.

As the progressive amount moves higher, the long-term payback also moves higher. It is possible for the progressive to get high enough to offset the reduced payback of the game. It is even possible for the progressive jackpot to get high enough to make the game have a long term positive payback – that’s right, a payback of more than 100%.

To have an 8/5 Jacks or Better game return 99.54% like a 9/6 game, the jackpot has to get very high and that doesn’t happen very often at all. The progressive needs to be almost 8,000 units before the payback reaches that of a 9/6 game. That is almost twice the normal payoff for a royal flush.

I told my acquaintance about the reduced return. I also told him as I am telling you, it is your money and you can spend it any way you choose. I personally have a problem giving an extra two dollars out of every 100 dollars I play in video poker to casinos that already have every game stacked in their favor.

Think very carefully before you decide to play an 8/5 Jacks or Better game. If the casino has full pay 9/6 Jacks or Better games available, I cannot think of a single reason to play an 8/5 game rather than a full pay game.

May all your wins be swift and large and all your losses slow and tiny.

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. He authored the video poker section of "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker!" 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