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Best of John Grochowski

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Mississippi Stud Poker

31 August 2010

Every year, I see a dozen or more new table games or new table game bonus bets. Relatively few make it into casinos. There's not the same demand for new table games that there is for new slot machines, and table games can go through years of fine tuning along with proving themselves in small venues and in online play before they make a breakthrough.

That can lead to "where have I seen this before" moments. Such was the case when I was checking out a table games pit last month and came across Mississippi Stud Poker. I know I've seen the game at a Global Gaming Expo or three, but who was showing it and in what years escapes me.

I recall seeing a game by that name shown by an independent game developer, but the current iteration is distributed by Shuffle Master, the same company that distributes Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. It's a five-card stud poker variation that you start by making an ante. The dealer the gives you two cards face down, and deals three community cards face down.

After you look at your cards, you may make a bet of one to three times the ante. There's another round of betting after the first community card is turned face up, then another after the second community card, for a total of three rounds of betting.

After the last card is turned up, bets are paid according to a pay table that starts at getting your money back on a pair of 6s through 10s and tops out a 500-1 on a royal flush.

There is no dealer hand to beat, there is no qualifying hand to worry about as in many other stud-poker based games. You're not going to wind up with a great hand only to find you're being paid only on the ante because the dealer didn't have good enough cards. The intrigue and strategy in this game comes solely from knowing when to raise and when to fold.

The house edge is 4.9% of your ante, or 1.4% of total action when additional wagers are taken into account. That compares favorably to Caribbean Stud (5.2% of ante, 2.6% of total action) or Let It Ride (3.5% of one bet, 2.7% of total action).

There is a larger difference between the house edge seen as a percentage of the ante and the house edge as a percentage of total action than in other ante-bet combination games. That's because your total action can be much larger relative to the ante in Mississippi Stud than in other games.

If you start with an ante and have good enough cards for 3x raises after the second, third and fourth cards, you can wind up with 10x your original ante on the table. That $5 ante can become $50 in total action. In Caribbean Stud, you have one opportunity to bet after the ante, when staying in the game requires a wager of exactly twice the size of the ante. If you ante $5 and bet $10, then your total action is $15 — nowhere near the disparity between ante and total action that is possible in Mississippi Stud.

Michael Shackleford's Web site, www.wizardofodds.com, is my go-to place when checking out the probabilities on unfamiliar games, and it has a complete analysis of the game. There is a fairly lengthy strategy table, with a breakdown on what you should do after 2, 3 and 4 cards.

First of all, let's define a high card is a Jack or better, a middle card as 6 through 10 and a low card as 2 through 5. Then this is your betting strategy:

  • After two cards, raise three times your bet with any pair, or one time your bet with at least one high card; two middle cards, or consecutive cards 6-5 or better of the same suit.
  • After three cards, raise three times your bet with any paying hand of a middle pair or higher; three cards to a royal; three cards to a straight flush, 5-6-7 or higher and no gaps; three cards to a straight flush with one gap if you have at least one high card, and with two gaps with at least two high cards. Raise an amount equal to your bet with three parts of flush; a low pair; two or three high cards; three middle cards; one high card and one middle card; or three parts of a straight, 4-5-6 or higher, with no gaps.
  • After four cards, raise 3x with any winning hand; four parts of a flush, or four parts on outside straight, 8 high or better. Raise 1x with any other straight draw; a low pair; at least two high cards; on high cards and two or three middle cards; one high card and two previous 3x raises; three middle cards and at least one previous 3x raise.
  • If your hand doesn't make the list, fold.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski