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Best of John Grochowski
Mississippi Stud Poker31 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:
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Best of John Grochowski