How to Play Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is played as a five card draw game. In this version, betting is not allowed to open until at least one player at the table can open betting with a pair of Jacks or better.

Instructions & Rules for Jacks or Better

To begin playing Jacks or Better each player is required to ante. The dealer will then deal out five cards down to each player. Each player will have the chance to look at their cards and decide if they are able to open the betting round. Remember a pair of jacks is required to play.

If nobody at the table has at least a pair of Jacks, each player will muck their hand, ante again and the dealer will deal another five cards face down. On this round a pair of Queens or better is required in order to open up betting. If nobody can open, cards will be mucked, players will again ante, and each player will receive five new cards face down. This will continue with Kings or better, followed by Aces or better and back to Jacks or better until one player is able to open with the minimum requirements.

Once a player is able to open they have the option to bet or check. Each player who remains in the hand will have the option to draw as many cards as they want up to five. Once the draw is complete a final betting round will take place, followed by the showdown. The player with the best five card poker hand wins the pot.

To Summarize;

  • Each person antes into the pot.
  • The dealer will deal each player 5 cards face down.
  • A betting round will take place only if someone is able to open with a pair of Jacks.
  • No jacks, no hand. Hands are mucked and players ante again.
  • If a player opens, the rest of the hand will be played as 5 card draw.
  • The best poker hand wins.
  • Next round will require a pair of Queens or better to open the betting round.

Variations of Jacks or Better and Strategy

This game can be played so many different ways. To make it a bit more difficult you can add “legs” which means a player has to win so many rounds before they can take the pot. When a leg is added, it’s best to remember to control the pot as best as possible. You don’t want to bet huge on the first round when you’re on your first leg as the game can change quickly. Another version of the game can be played where if no one has a pair of Jacks or better, the game is then played as lowball.

Tip –  If one of the players is able to open betting, your hand should be able to improve for you to call the bet. The only time you’d play and draw all five cards is when you’re down to your last leg and need the win.