by Matt Bourie
In video poker, the pay table shown on a machine is the sole component that determines the payback percentage for that particular game.
This means that players can simply look at the pay table to immediately determine what the payback percentage is for the game on that machine. This is something that cannot be done with slot machines as you never know what a slot machine is programmed to pay back to the public.
To maximize their chances of winning, players should always examine the pay table on a video poker machine to make sure they are playing the best pay table available for that particular game.
Keep in mind that the odds of drawing any particular hand are always the same on any particular video poker game. For example, on all Jacks or Better games, regardless of the pay table, the odds of drawing to any particular hand are always the same and any changes to the amount paid for different hands will result in differences in the theoretical return for each particular pay table
Ideally, players should always play a game that offers the highest return for full houses and flushes as those two hands are usually where the payoffs are lowered in order to lower the payback percentage for that game.
So, if the odds are the same on all Jacks or Better games for getting a full house then players should always try to play a game where they get nine coins rather than six coins. This isn’t always possible as many casinos will not offer these higher-paying video poker games, but players should seek them out to see if they are available.
Mathematically speaking, the overall payback percentage on a video poker machine is increased by about 1.1% for each extra coin paid back to the player. Therefore, a 9/6 game would offer a theoretical return of about 99.5%, while a 6/5 would only return about 95%.
Below is a list of the most common Jacks or Better pay tables and the theoretical return to the player for each of those pay tables. The first number shown is the payout for a full house and the second number shown is the payout for a flush.
Jacks or Better Pay Table Theoretical Paybacks
Jacks or Better 9/6 (99.54%)
Jacks or Better 9/5 (98.45%)
Jacks or Better 8/6 (98.39%)
Jacks or Better 8/5 (97.30%)
Jacks or Better 7/5 (96.15%)
Jacks or Better 6/5 (95.00%)
Jacks or Better 9/6 Pay Table (99.54% theoretical return)
The 9/6 pay table serves as the cornerstone of Jacks or Better, representing the gold standard in terms of optimal payout structures. With a full house paying out at 9 times the initial bet and a flush yielding 6 times the initial wager, the 9/6 pay table is renowned for its balanced and rewarding gameplay. The expected theoretical return for the 9/6 pay table typically hovers around 99.54%. Here is a sample representation of the 9/6 pay table:
Modified Jacks or Better Pay Tables (8/6 and 9/5)
The 8/6 and 9/5 pay tables represent slight variations from the standard 9/6 pay table, offering reduced payouts for specific winning combinations. Despite the adjustments, these pay tables remain competitive, providing players with a balanced blend of risk and potential rewards.
The expected theoretical return for the 8/6 pay table is approximately 98.39%, while for the 9/5 pay table, it hovers around 98.45%.
Below are representations of the 8/6 and 9/5 pay tables:
Jacks or Better 8/6 Pay Table (98.39% theoretical return)
Jacks or Better 9/5 Pay Table (98.45% theoretical return)
Lower Paying Jacks or Better Pay Tables (8/5, 7/5, and 6/5)
The 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5 pay tables signify further reductions in payouts, offering relatively lower rewards for winning combinations. These pay tables are generally perceived as less favorable for players aiming for substantial returns, as they curtail the potential earnings significantly.
The expected theoretical returns for the 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5 pay tables are approximately 97.30%, 96.15%, and 95.00%, respectively. Below are representations of the 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5 pay tables:
Jacks or Better 8/5 Pay Table (97.30% theoretical return)
Jacks or Better 7/5 Pay Table (96.15% theoretical return)
Jacks or Better 6/5 Pay Table (95.00% theoretical return)
In this article, we have delved into the world of Jacks or Better video poker pay tables and how they can significantly impact your gameplay. Understanding these pay tables is vital if you want to make informed decisions and increase your chances of winning.
By grasping the relationship between pay tables and theoretical payback percentages, you gain valuable insights into the expected returns from different machines. Theoretical payback percentages tell you what portion of your wagers can be expected to be returned over time and this knowledge empowers you to choose machines with higher potential payouts.
Remember that not all pay tables are created equal! There are various types, including full-pay, short-pay, and progressive jackpot variations. Each has its own unique characteristics that affect both the payout structure and strategy required for optimal play.
When selecting a machine, it’s essential to consider your goals and bankroll size. If aiming for maximum returns in the long run, opt for full-pay machines, if you can find them. On the other hand, if entertainment value is more important than maximizing profits, shorter-pay versions may suffice, but always looks for the best available pay table.
To develop effective strategies based on specific pay table configurations requires careful analysis. Expert players use video poker strategy charts outlining recommended moves based on probabilities associated with each hand combination’s respective payout values. Some players also use video poker software to practice their skills. By using either of these methods, skilled players improve their odds of success.
Understanding video poker pay tables gives you an advantage when playing these exciting casino games at online casinos, or at brick-and-mortar establishments. Armed with this knowledge about theoretical return rates and finding favorable pay table variations that suit your preferences and budgetary constraints will set you up for a more rewarding experience overall!
So go ahead – explore different video poker variants with varying pay table structures while keeping in mind our tips for choosing wisely! Remember to always play responsibly and enjoy the thrill of the game. Good luck!
Matt Bourie is the editor of the American Casino Guide book https://www.americancasinoguidebook.com/ He also co-hosts The Jackpot Gents YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@TheJackpotGents where he, and his father, Steve Bourie, release a video each day documenting their video poker play in a real casino. They also have a website at https://thejackpotgents.com/ where they provide an extensive collection of FREE articles and videos about how to be a better video poker player.