If you were to mingle in a gambling circle and ask about this game, most people in it wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. Some might even think that Johnson and Jacks Back was something you had invented before joining their group. Well, it isn’t — it really exists, but it’s an obscure poker variant. It takes second place to the likes of Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Regardless of this, we recommend that you see whether you’d find it appealing or not. If nothing, at least you will be able to brag about your knowledge of yet another poker variant.
And is there a place where you can play this inconspicuous game? Perhaps in brick-and-mortar casinos? Well, you’d have about the same chances of getting struck by lighting. The reason for this is that land-based casinos are turning to more popular games in order to generate profit. Even if they feature poker on their gambling floor, they resort to famous variants — the ones that have become household names over the years. And not only that, but those which might encourage players to show how skillful they are.
What’s more, Johnson and Jacks Back would rarely, if ever, cause this reaction among the loyal casino goers. Most of them dream about visiting a gambling venue and examining games which are an integral part of some of the famous movies. They want to emulate their favorite characters and see if they would dabble in poker or not. For this reason, their first thought when contemplating draw poker isn’t Johnson and Jacks Back, but entirely different games. Understanding this, casino operators provide their gamblers with what they want, and in turn, increase their revenue.
Also, if we were to delve deeper, then we would infer that casinos don’t rely on poker as their primary source of income. The moment you visit them, you detect that they reserve the majority of their space for slot machines and a number of table games. This is because they attract more players, and the owners can be safe in the knowledge that, if all else fails, they’ll at least have these two game types to lure customers in.
With this in mind, you can learn the rules of this variant and then organize a home game. Gather some poker players and go over everything with them. And once they feel confident, start playing and let the best person at the poker table win!
Johnson (And “Jacks Back”) Rules
If you decide to organize a home game, then it would be best to include about 4 or 5 players. With everyone’s approval, you might even impose a limit stake before the game starts. You should determine the amount based on the players’ bankroll. Also, that limit would show how much money they could lose or wager in a single betting round.
Aside from establishing a limit, you should explain to everyone just how important jacks or better is in this poker variant. Namely, this game requires someone to open betting with this hand. Once they do that, then the rules reflect those in Five-card Draw. However, if no one has these cards, then everyone will be playing the Lowball poker variant. And as you probably know, there are some differences between the two, including in their hand rankings.
This type of poker uses 53 cards, as the joker is added to the deck. Its role is that of a bug that can replace any other card. For instance, this bug can substitute for an ace or any other card that forms a flush or a straight in Five-card Draw. As for Lowball poker, you can use it instead of the missing lowest card. So if you have 6-5-4-2, it can replace an ace and might help your hand win that round.
Now that you are aware of the basic outline of the game, we can go over the game progression.
Johnson (And “Jacks Back”) and Five-Card Draw
In this game, every participant needs to post an ante before the cards are dealt. After the players chip in, they will get five cards face down, and they need to check whether they have jacks or better. If they do, then Johnson and Jacks Back will be played as Five-card Draw. The player to the left of the dealer commences, and everyone at the table follows suit. Once that one person shows their hand containing jacks or better, then everyone can fold, raise, or call during the first betting round.
After this betting round, they can dispose of any card they don’t need and keep the ones which might be useful in this draw poker game. Alternatively, they have a choice of standing pat — retaining all the cards. Then active players make another wager, starting from the person left of the dealer. In the end, the game has a showdown so that the remaining players can reveal their cards. The best poker hand, as per the standard rankings, wins the pot.
Johnson (And “Jacks Back”) and Lowball Poker
If no one opens with jacks or better, then the participants follow the Lowball poker rules. Admittedly, the game isn’t that much different than the abovementioned one. The only noticeable difference is that you need the lowest poker hand to win. Here, you should be ecstatic if you get the wheel — a hand containing A-2-3-4-5, forming the lowest hand. So after posting an ante, everyone receives the same number of cards — five. This marks the beginning of the first betting round, and active players can call, fold, or raise.
In addition, participants can examine their cards and see which one of them they will be discarding. They can also stand pat in this variant as well if they wish. Following this, they can wager once again. Lastly, those remaining need to show their cards so that the winner can be determined. As you can see, although this poker variant includes two games, the actual rules are not that dissimilar. Just don’t forget which cards you should be chasing in both of these variants.
At the time being, Johnson and Jacks Back is a rare game that you might find only during a home game. But who knows, maybe it will spread all over the world once more and more people become aware of it. If this happens, we’re sure that it will secure itself a loyal fan base.