Video poker came into being some forty years ago in Las Vegas, NV. The invention of video poker machines came with computer technology development that brought forth many innovations. Players weren’t playing against each other anymore but against the machine. Finally, the appearance of online casinos even enabled multi-hand video poker games.
Each machine has its own rules and paytables, so it is important that we know how to find the best one. Therefore, it can sometimes get a bit confusing. That is why we are going to walk through some of these versions, with a particular focus on the 9/6 version.
But first, we have to mention that all video poker games can be categorized into two main groups: full-pay and low-pay games.
The difference between these two groups is that full-pay games have higher payouts than the low-pay ones. This information is readily available on all video poker machines — you just have to check their paytables. Among other information, paytables contain the payout values for each of the winning combinations. Additionally, the payouts will depend on the number of coins you decide to wager (usually you can bet up to 5 coins), as well as the strength of your winning hand.
Paytables are usually displayed at the top of the screen. There, you will see several columns. The first one on the left is a list of poker combinations, and on the right, you will notice several columns with various numbers. The number of available columns depends on the number of coins the machine allows you to bet. So if you can bet 5 coins, there should be 5 columns, one for each bet. Therefore, depending on the amount you wager, these columns tell you how much you will win for each poker combination.
Jacks or Better Video Poker
The most popular video poker game is undoubtedly the 9/6 version of Jacks or Better (or Draw Poker), which is a full-pay game. Like any other video poker game, JOB has several versions. These variants will award a different number of coins for Full house and Flush hands. The best paying version of the game is the 9/6 version. These machines will pay 9 times the initial bet for Full house and 6 times for Flush combinations. Hence the title “9/6.” So, for example, if you wagered 3 coins and you get Full house, you will receive 9×3=27 coins.
The 9/6 machine is an excellent game for beginners since the chances of winning are the best out there and the risks are fairly low. Besides, it doesn’t require a strategy as complicated as for the other versions. The 9/6 Jacks or Better has 99,54% RTP, which means that in the long run, you should lose only 0,46% of the total amount you’ve bet. However, I must highlight that this is a statistical number calculated over a huge number of games. As such, it doesn’t predict the outcome of a single or a few games.
What affects the game in the short run is variance. To put it simply, the variance of a machine determines how often the winning combinations come and how big they are. So if a machine hits winnings often, the amounts will usually be smaller, and that is a low-variance machine. And on the contrary, if a machine hits less frequently, it is likely that its winnings will be bigger. Each of these options has both advantages and disadvantages, which depend on your preferences. Thus, low-variance machines will be more attractive to low-rollers, whereas high-rollers might prefer high-variance machines.
Everyone knows it takes only several minutes to learn how to play video poker, but it takes years to master it. Although, knowing the variance of specific machines you play is only the tip of the iceberg. In most video poker games, you also get to choose which and how many cards to discard and hold. And since payouts and return rates for specific card combinations will vary among machines, this will affect your decisions too. An optimal strategy will count in as many factors as possible. So give yourself time to shape your perfect strategy and then stick to it to get the best video poker experience.
As everything in gambling is about luck, it is possible to come across certain casino promotions that will offer 10/6 or 9/7 versions of JOB. On the other hand, a player can expect to get worse options more often. These are, for example, 8/6, 6/5, 8/5, and 7/5 Jacks or Better versions, which are all low-pay games.
There are also several bonus poker versions you might stumble upon in your online or brick-and-mortar casino. Keep an eye out for the following features:
- Bonus poker stands out because of its special Four of a kind offer. Four 2s, 3s or 4s get 200 coins (9/6 Jack or Better awards only 125 in the best case). On the other hand, four Aces get 400 coins. The RTP of this version is 99.2%.
- Double Bonus has a specific offer for four Aces combination. In case you get 4 Aces with a 2, 3 or a 4, the machine will award you 2000 coins. The RTP of this version is 100,2%, but only if you apply the perfect strategy and the machine you’re playing on is the 10/7 version.
- Double Double bonus version has large awards for Four of a kind combinations with four aces and a 2, 3, or a 4, as well as Four of a kind combinations of 2s, 3s, and 4s, with an ace as the fifth card. The expected return is 100.1%, however, only if accompanied by perfect strategy.
- Progressive jackpot versions are possibly the juiciest video poker games you can play. These collect all wagers into a shared prize pool, waiting to award the lucky winner with a couple of million.
As we have seen, these are all full-pay versions with very attractive RTP values. Although, the tricky part is that it’s a bit complicated to reach that kind of return since it requires you to perfectly execute the optimal strategy.
Press the Deal Button!
As we have seen, 9/6 Jacks or Better is the most popular version of video poker. It has a fair paytable and can be played by both beginners and professionals alike. Moreover, with enough experience under your belt, you will master the optimal strategy and will even have a shot at beating the house. So good luck and have fun!