Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is a variation of 5 Card Draw and it begins with all players posting blinds. To begin the game a pair of Jacks or better is needed at which point the betting would be declared 'open'. When the pot is opened, players can decide whether to stay in the pot or fold. If no player has a pair of Jacks or better to open betting, the hands are thrown away and the game starts again until a player has the required minimum hand. Any player who has legally declared the pot open must prove that they have the hand in order to win the pot (must show the pair of Jacks or better). Further in the game, if there has been a raise, two or more players call the opening bet, or all action is completed before the draw. Any player can request that the opener holds the opening hand and shows it after the winner of the pot has been determined.
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Jacks or Better Variations
One of the reasons why poker fans like Jacks or Better is that it can be played in many different ways. To make it more difficult, players may add legs which means a player must win a certain number of rounds before they can take the pot. When a leg is added, controlling the pot as best as possible becomes you first priority. It’s not wise to bet big on the first round when you’re in your first leg because the game can change quickly. Another Jacks or Better variation is Trips to win. The rules remain intact, expect that a player needs a hand at least as good as three of a kind to win the pot. If the pot is won without a showdown, the winner must show enough cards to prove that he/she holds three of a kind or better. On the downside, this considerably reduces the value of bluffing.
Is it worth playing?
Out of all poker variations, Jacks or Better has divided opinions among players the most. Some think it’s the purest form of poker, others believe in the complete opposite. As far back as 1897 card game scholars warned about the dangers it poses to the game. Robert Fredrick Foster, a prolific author of over 50 books on the rules of play of card, dice and board games made a bold assessment: "The addition of jack pots has probably done more to injure Poker than the trump signal has injured Whist ... the whole system has become a nuisance, and has destroyed one of the finest points in the game of Poker - the liberty of personal judgement as to every counter put into the pool, except the blind”. Many experts have disagreed with Foster afterwards, including the American magician and card manipulator John Scrane, who wrote the following in his 1949 book Scrane on Cards: “It is essential for the stability of the game that a player has jacks or better when opening. If this rule is not enforced and a player opens the pot any time he feels like it, one of the greatest factors of skill in the game is automatically eliminated - which depends on knowing that the opener holds at least a pair of jacks." No matter how many opinions you seek, yours is the most important, and it can be formed only by playing the actual game.