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Jacks to Open

What is ‘Jacks to Open’?

In poker, ‘jacks to open’ describes a game in which a pair of jacks or higher are required to open the first round. Often present in tournament and jackpot poker, a ‘jacks to open’ rule ensures that all players entering have a strong hand to play or to oppose. In some forms of poker, jacks or better is required to set the rules as standard play, otherwise the game will revert to lowball rules instead.

‘Jacks to Open’ Explained

If a poker game includes a ‘jacks to open’ rule, it means that a pair of jacks or better is required to open play. For some poker games, especially in tournaments and jackpot games, each player might be required to draw jacks or better in order to make a starting play and enter the game for the next round. In most situations where ‘jacks to open’ is played, at least one player must hold jacks or better in order to open play. They might even be required to post the opener.

In video poker, ‘Jacks or Better’ is one of the most popular forms of the game. Like most electronic draw games, it requires players to hold a pair of jacks or better after the draw in order to make a win. Unlike a ‘jacks to open’ game however, the player does not usually need to pull a high hand to start – they have the chance to improve at the draw.

‘Jacks to open’ is an important rule in games of ‘Jack or Back’ poker (sometimes ‘Jacks or Reverse’). In this form of the game, players are dealt cards as normal and aim to build a high hand. However, if there isn’t a hand of two jacks or better at the table, the play turns to lowball rules and the lowest hand is sought instead.