Get ready to learn another poker variant. This time around, it’s not a household name, but trust us, you’ll enjoy it nevertheless. Read on for the rules of Johnson and Jacks Back.
The Beginnings of Poker
While there are varying accounts of the origin of poker, some believe that this fascinating card game developed from As Nas. This was a Persian game from the 16th century. According to some experts, French settlers from New Orleans found about it and spent some of their time playing. And it was in the United States where poker began to blossom and attract more people.
In the beginning, regulations weren’t strict, and people could enjoy this pastime without any fear. However, this didn’t go on for too long, and gambling was soon forbidden in most towns in the USA. For this reason, players came up with the idea of moving the excitement onto steamboats. They’d sail the Mississippi River, all the while gambling and taking the most from this game. In time, they even stopped using a deck comprised of 20 cards and began incorporating the one with 52.
Interestingly enough, although the country was ravaged by the American Civil War, people found time to make some new additions to poker. In other words, they came up with draw and stud poker. Also, they added the wild card soon after — around 1875. And after further improving the game, it caught the attention of the rest of the world and soon spread worldwide.J
Today, it’s a famed card game that even has its own tournament — the World Series of Poker. And skillful players are lauded and admired by poker enthusiasts. You can play it in most well-equipped casinos that vie for the attention of gamblers. However, while you’re in a poker room, you might not come across Johnson and Jacks Back. For this reason, we’ve decided to delve deeper and teach you how to play this variant. After all, you might just decide to include it in your home game night.
Johnson and Jacks Back: The Essentials
For this form of poker, we’d recommend having a smaller group — some 4 to 5 players would actually suffice here. Aside from this, most suggest that there should be a limited stake which should be established as per everyone’s bankroll. This would mean that the participants in this poker game would be well aware of the amount they could either lose or place on the table. And especially if you’re playing it with your friends, this might be wise to do.
Apart from this, one hand takes a pivotal role in Johnson and Jacks Back. And you’ve guessed it right — it’s jacks or better. In other words, in order to open a betting round, one player must have this hand. That’s why you should have at least 4 players at the table — it increases the chances of someone getting it. And if someone opens wagering, then the game is played as a Five-card Draw.
But all is not lost if no one happens to have it. Specifically, without jacks or better, Johnson and Jacks Back proceeds as a standard Lowball poker variant. Therefore, you’ll have an opportunity to show just how skillful you are in both of these forms. But bear in mind the major difference between these two variants — how they rank their cards. Namely, in the former, the highest hand wins the pot. On the other hand, the latter follows different rules. In this draw game, a player with the lowest hand emerges as the victor.
Lowball Poker: The Importance of the Wheel
As it’s plausible that, during the course of the game, no one opens with jacks or better, you should know how Lowball poker works. So concretely, Johnson and Jacks Back use the card values of Ace-to-Five Poker. In this case, you should do your best to get a wheel — a hand comprised of the lowest cards. To illustrate, it would have A-2-3-4-5.
In addition, aces are the lowest cards in this poker variant. Apart from that, flushes and straights won’t count against your hand strength. However, pairs will, as once all cards are shown, the one that doesn’t have them will prevail over the other that does.
Of course, you don’t need to have the wheel in order to win in this type — you should just have the weakest combination at the table. For instance, if you have 9-7-6-5-3 and your opponent shows 8-5-4-3-2, then they’ll walk away with money. In contrast, if you get 6-5-3-2-A and another participant receives 8-7-6-5-2, then you’ll be the one celebrating at the end of this game.
Adding the Bug
In order to better everyone’s chances, Johnson and Jacks Back also has a joker. In this case, it acts as a bug, and the cards it can substitute for depends on the game. To be specific, in Five-card Draw, it can act as an ace, or a player can use it to form a straight or a flush. For example, if you have 8-3-J-A of the same suit and the bug, then you’ll combine a flush. This is because the bug will represent the K of that suit.
In contrast, if you’re playing the Ace-to-Five variant, then you should perceive the bug as a card that will substitute for the lowest card you need in your hand. For instance, you get 7-5-4-3 and the bug. In this particular case, it represents an ace. And if you have 4-3-2-A together with the bug, then you’ll combine the wheel, as this card will replace a 5.
Now that you’re familiar with this, let’s mention how the game progresses so that you might sharpen your dealing skills.
Following the Rules of Five-Card Draw
Johnson and Jacks use antes, which means that everyone at the poker table needs to post them before getting their cards. Then the dealer gives five cards to all players who need to examine them immediately. The action starts from the player left of the dealer and progresses from there. In this variant, it is required that one person has jacks or better so that they could open the first betting round. Following their move, the players need to opt for calling, raising, or folding.
Once they have done this, the draw rules allow them to discard any card that might not fit their hand and take new ones. But if you’re absolutely happy with your hand, you can decide to stand pat and keep it as it is. After this, those still actively playing place another bet. Again, it starts with the player to the dealer’s left. Lastly, there is a showdown, during which everyone exposes their hand so that the strongest one could take the pot.
Obeying the Rules of Ace-To-Five
It might happen that, once players are dealt five concealed cards, no one can open. So in this case, the players should know that they’ll be participating in a game of Lowball Poker. The actual game doesn’t differ that much when compared to the above one. After the deal, those who decide to keep playing can place a bet. During this round, everyone has to make the same decision as in the Five-card Draw — will they call, fold, or raise?
Furthermore, then everyone gets an opportunity to draw and give their utmost to combine the lowest hand. After disposing of their cards and getting new ones, there needs to be another wagering round. And if there are any players left, then they need to show their combination and hope that theirs is the best one.
Being the Dealer
If you decide to host a home game, you might want to explore more poker variants and not only play Texas Hold’em with your friends. As it is highly likely that they won’t be familiar with this game, it might be a good idea that you take on the role of the dealer at first. You can be their wingman and guide them through every step. It won’t take them too long to understand this game, as it is a combination of two quite popular variants.
Therefore, do your best and try to impress them with your mad dealing skills!