The first video poker games released in the late ‘70s required a minimum of two pairs to win. It wasn’t easy. People didn’t embrace the game until the minimum hand was decreased to a pair of Jacks or better – thus the name Jacks or Better.

Jacks or Better is the least volatile out of all video poker variants, meaning the wins are modest and steady. Conservative video poker players enjoy this variant over the flashier and more volatile machines, such as Double Double Bonus Poker, because the risk is low and the payouts are fairly consistent.

Fortunately for them, there are four different ways to play Jacks or Better: 1 Hand, 3 Hands, 10 Hands and 52 Hands. The more hands you play per round, the higher the standard deviation and variance.


1 Hand Jacks or Better

Variance: 19.51

Standard Deviation: 4.41


When you’re just starting out with video poker, sticking to 1 Hand Jacks or Better is the way to go. You’ll be dealt one hand a round, making learning easier than playing with multiple hands.

For those who’ve never played before, after receiving your hand, you click the “Bet One” button once to play 1-coin a round, twice to play 2-coins a round, and so on, up to 5-coin rounds. Then click the “Deal” button to receive your five-card hand. Click the cards you want to hold onto, hit “Draw”, and you’ll receive your final five-card hand. If you win, you get a chance to play a round of Double or Nothing.


Multi Hand Jacks or Better

Variance: 23.44

Standard Deviation: 4.84


After mastering 1 Hand Jacks or Better, the natural progression is to move on to 3 Hand Jacks or Better. 3 Hand Jacks or Better deals you a five-card hand; out of those five cards, you pick the ones you want to hold. The cards you select will be included in all three hands. When you click the “Draw” button, the unwanted cards are replaced with new ones. Each hand receives a unique set of new cards, so you’ll end up with three semi-unique hands.

After you get comfortable playing with three hands per round, you can upgrade to 10 Hand Jacks or Better, and further down the road, 52 Hand Jacks or Better. Just keep in mind, the cost per round increases as you bump up the number of hands you play. For example, playing the 52 Hand variant with the maximum five $0.25 coins per hand costs $65 a round compared to $1.25 with the 1 Hand version. So enjoy the slow progression because it’s not cheap to play with the pros.