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How can you tell a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine?

31 March 2008

Thank you for all of the information you share for idiots like me.

I love video poker and play as often as I can. Could you please explain how you can tell if you are playing a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine? How are the machines marked? Or do you just calculate the payoff table to determine which machines are which?

Thanks!

Gary

Dear Gary,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns. I'm sure you're not an idiot, particularly since you asked a good question.

Many years ago, in the early days of video poker, you used to be able to tell a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine very easily. The 9/6 "fraction" refers to the one-coin payoff for a full house and for a flush, respectively. All you had to do was look for that payoff on the pay table and you had a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine.

Today it's much harder to identify a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine because there are so many video poker variations (Bonus, Double Bonus, Triple Bonus) available than before. Some of these games pay 9/6, but pay only a push for two pair to fund bonuses on certain quads or other hands. The vast majority of these "9/6" games pay considerably less than the near breakeven 99.5% of 9/6 Jacks or Better.

The only 100% reliable way to identify a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine is to check the entire pay table:

Royal flush: 250/4,000
Straight flush: 50
Four of a kind: 25
Full house: 9
Flush: 6
Straight: 4
Three of a kind: 3
Two pair: 2
High pair: 1

Note that I've talked about identifying a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine. Finding one is another matter. Many casinos have replaced their "relatively easy to play well" 9/6 Jacks or Better machines with other variations that are more difficult to play well and, in some cases, also pay less even with perfect play. The 9/6 Jacks or Better machines are still out there, but they're not as easy to find as in the past.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots