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A Beginner’s Guide to Aces and Faces Video Poker

The Basics 

Aces and Faces is a popular form of video poker based upon Jacks or Better. As the name suggests, there are boosted payouts for four of a kind hands that include the face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) or Aces. Therefore, the game is popular with players who prefer to play for rarer larger payouts than regular small payouts.  

Aces and Faces takes no time to learn and the rules are very simple. However, if you want to maximise your returns and try to minimise losses, then strategy is very important. Anyone who has ever played a game of five-card draw will find the game very familiar. Essentially, the aim of the game is to build the best five-card poker hand possible and stronger hands result in bigger payouts.  

In most games, you begin by setting your coin size and how many coins you wish to bet. You then click on ‘Deal’ to receive your first five cards. At this point, you can choose which of those cards you wish to hold and which to discard. The discarded cards are then replaced and you will be paid out as long as you have a winning hand. In many versions of the game, the cards will be automatically held if you already have a winning hand. You will win as long as you are holding at least a pair of Jacks. Here is a standard pay table for the game: 


1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 






Four Aces 






Straight Flush 






Four J, Q or K 






Four 2s through 10s 






Full House 














Three of a Kind 




Two Pair 


Jacks or Better 


The first thing to notice is that if you want to hit the biggest payout, then you should be playing at the fifth bet level, i.e. you should bet five coins per hand. Therefore, even if you have to use a smaller coin size, it is worth always betting five coins. For example, if you have a budget of €1 per hand, rather than betting one €1 coin, it is worth betting five €0.20 coins.  

Before considering the best strategy to win at Aces and Faces, the first thing is to make sure that you properly understand the different types of poker hands. Here is a quick explanation of each of the hands shown in the above paytable: 

  • Jacks or Better – A hand that contains a pair of Jacks or above.  
  • Two Pair – A hand containing two pairs, for example two 6s and two Qs. 
  • Three of a Kind – A hand that contains three matching cards, such as three 7s.  
  • Straight – A hand containing five sequential cards, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The suit is irrelevant and Ace can be at the beginning or the end of a Straight.  
  • Flush – A hand of five cards from the same suit, for example, 3, 7, 8, 10 and K of Clubs. 
  • Full House – A hand built of a pair and a three of a kind, for example two 7s and three Ks. The suit of the cards is irrelevant.  
  • Four 2s through 10s – A hand that contains four matching cards that are 2s up to 10s.  
  • Four J, Q, or K – A hand that contains four matching cards that are Jacks, Queens or Kings 
  • Straight Flush – A hand that combines a straight with a flush. i.e. five sequential cards from the same suit. For example, 7, 8, 9, 10, J of Hearts.  
  • Four Aces – A hand that contains four Aces. 
  • Royal Flush – A hand containing a straight flush composed of the highest cards, 10, J, Q, K, A of Spades, Clubs, Diamonds or Hearts.  

Aces and Faces Strategy 

It is possible to build a mathematically optimal strategy for Aces and Faces as at any time you will know what cards are left in the pack. A hand is played with a standard pack of 52 cards, so once you have been dealt your first five cards, you know which 47 cards are remaining. Thanks to this, if you are playing a version of Aces and Faces with the same paytable as shown above and using optimal strategy, it will have a house edge of just 0.74%, or put differently, it has a theoretically RTP of 99.26%, which is another reason for the game’s popularity.  

The even better news is that you do not have to be a fantastic mathematician in order to take advantage of this fact. You can follow the optimal strategy without having to do a single sum. However, you will need to be very familiar with the different poker hands if you want to be sure that you are not making any mistakes.  

A video poker strategy chart shows you a list of potential hands in order of their desirability. In other words, it starts with the best possible hand and works downwards. When you use a chart, all you need to do is start at the top and work down. When you reach a hand that matches yours, keep the cards indicated by the chart and discard the rest. Of course, this will not guarantee a win, but it will definitely help. The list is very easy to follow and there is just one thing that you need to be aware of. You will see the expression “x card draw to a y”, where x is the number of cards and y is the type of hand. For example, 4 Card Draw to a Flush means that you have four of the cards needed for a Flush and you hang on to them and discard the fifth.  

If you are new to playing video poker then Aces and Faces is an excellent choice as the strategy chart is relatively simple. Here it is: 

  1. Royal Flush 
  1. 4 of a Kind 
  1. Straight Flush 
  1. 4 Card Draw to a Royal Flush 
  1. Full House 
  1. Flush 
  1. Straight 
  1. 3 of a Kind 
  1. 4 Card Draw to a Straight Flush 
  1. 2 Pairs 
  1. A pair of Jacks or Better 
  1. 3 Card Draw to a Royal Flush 
  1. 4 Card Draw to a Flush 
  1. Unsuited 10JQK 
  1. Any Low Pair 
  1. 4 Cards to a Straight Draw 
  1. 3 Cards to a Straight Flush 
  1. AKQJ unsuited 
  1. 2 Card Draw to a Royal Flush 
  1. 3 Cards to a Straight Draw 
  1. KQJ, QJ, KQ, or KJ (unsuited) 
  1. 3 Cards to a Straight Flush 
  1. JT or QT suited 
  1. Unsuited High Cards 
  1. 1 High Card 
  1. Discard Everything 

You will immediately notice a few things. With very few exceptions, you will always hold on to a winning hand if you are dealt one to begin with. The most notable exception is 4 Cards to a Royal Flush, in this instance you will always go for the Royal Flush, no matter what you are holding. The other exception is 4 Cards to a Straight Flush; you will keep those cards instead of playing for any hand less than 3 of a Kind.  

This may sound a bit daunting at first; however, remember that there are no time constraints, so you can carefully check to see what you are holding. Furthermore, you will find that you get used to the strategy very quickly. Here are a few examples to help you practise:  

Example 1 

You are dealt: 8 Hearts, Jack Clubs, Queen Diamonds, Ace Clubs, 2 Diamonds 

The first thing to notice here is that you have three high cards, Jack Clubs, Queen Diamonds and Ace Clubs. However, while you may think you should hold all three, you should not, as this would make it impossible to get a full house. When you work your way down the list, you will eventually come to number 21, which states that you should hold the Queen and Jack only.  

Example 2  

You are dealt: 5 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 8 Clubs, 2 Hearts, 6 Hearts 

In this hand, you have what is known as four to an outside straight, the 5, 6, 7, 8. This means that a 4 or a 9 will make it into a straight. This corresponds to number 16 on the list, and you will hold those four cards and hope to draw a 4 or 9.  

Example 3 

You are dealt: 9 Hearts, 7 Hearts, 5 Clubs, 2 Hearts, 4 Hearts 

While this may not look very promising at first, you actually have four cards of the same suit, in other words, four to a flush. This is number 13 on the list. Simply discards the 5 Clubs and hope for a heart.  

Example 4 

You are dealt: 10 Clubs, Jack Clubs, Queen Clubs, King Hearts, King Diamonds 

There are three potential hands here. You have four to a straight (10, J, Q, K), a high pair (K, K), and three to a royal flush (10, J, Q). On the strategy chart, a Pair of Jacks or better is number 11 and higher than the other two options. Therefore, hold the Kings.  

To Conclude 

There is no doubt that it can take a little time to get used to spotting the different kinds of poker hands, but as with any skill, it becomes easier with practice. Furthermore, you can also find calculators to check that you have it right. As mentioned, there is no time limit when playing Aces and Faces, so you should use all the tools at your disposal. If you do, then you should see your winnings increase and you will soon be having even more fun.  

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