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Wild Hold 'Em Fold 'Em, Fortune Pai Gow Wager, Boston 5 Poker

25 May 2004

It's no secret that space devoted to table games has been shrinking for years, as slot machines and other electronic games take an ever-increasing share of gaming floors in every casino jurisdiction in the United States.

Fortunately for table players - and the folks who devise new games - table pits are still large enough in northwest Indiana to try something a little different.

A prime example is Majestic Star in Gary, with both the room and inclination to break out new games. It recently became the first casino in the area to offer Wild Hold 'Em Fold 'Em, devised by Casinovations Inc.

Wild Hold 'Em Fold 'Em has been around for a while but has built popularity slowly - not uncommon among new table games. It has claimed small shares of table space in Nevada and Mississippi over the last five years, and slowly is spreading to the rest of the country.

Deuces are wild in this five-card stud-based game. As in many poker-based table games, play starts with the player placing an ante. After receiving three cards, the player must either make a bet equal to the ante or fold the hand. If the player bets, he receives a fourth card and must decide whether to raise, this time making an additional bet of double the ante, or fold and forfeit both the ante and bet.

If the player raises, he receives a fifth card, and winning hands are paid according to a pay table that starts at 1-4 for a pair of Aces. You read that right - it's 1-4, not 4-1. If you ante $5, bet $5 and raise $10 for a total of $20 in action, a pair of Aces will get you your money back plus $5 in winnings - essentially, your winnings equal your ante.

Everything else on the pay table will win you at least as much as your ante, bet and raise. You'll get even money on two pair or three of a kind, 3-1 on straights, 4-1 on flushes, full houses or four of a kinds, 10-1 on straight flushes, 20-1 on five of a kind, 30-1 on royal flushes with wild cards, 200-1 on four deuces or 1,000-1 on natural royals.

Strategy is easy. After three cards, raise if you have a deuce, a pair, three of a kind, three to a flush that includes an Ace, or three to a straight flush of any denomination. After four cards, raise if you have a deuce, pair, two pair, three of a kind, or four to a straight, flush or straight flush. With that strategy, the house edge is about 6.9 percent.

***

Another uncommon offering at Majestic Star is the Fortune Pai-Gow wager from BET Technologies. In Fortune Pai-Gow, the player makes a side bet on his own hand - it doesn't matter whether the player beats the dealer.

All seven cards are considered for the bonus, not just the five-card high hand or the two-card second-high hand. Payoffs start at 2-1 on a five-card straight and soar to 8,000-1 on a natural seven-card straight flush.

In addition, players who wager at least $5 on the Fortune bet get an "envy bonus" if any other player at the table gets a hand of at least four of a kind. Because more players mean more chances for the envy bonus, the house edge on the Fortune bet is lower with more players, ranging from 5.9 percent against a customer playing alone down to 1.2 percent with five other players.

***

From Harrah's East Chicago comes word that it will soon offer 3-5-7 Poker and Boston 5 Poker. I've written about 3-5-7 a couple of times recently but haven't revisited Boston 5 since Majestic Star brought it to the area two years ago.

The player starts with an ante plus a bet twice the size of the ante. After being dealt three cards, the player may either fold or make a second bet, also twice the size of the ante. Those who make the second bet are dealt two more cards to make the final five-card hand.

If the player wins, the dealer pays both bets and the player keeps the ante. If the dealer wins, the house takes both bets AND the ante. If that's all there was to it, losing $12.50 for each $10 won in a game with a 50-50 chance of winning the hand, no one would ever play.

Fortunately, there's more. There is a bonus payoff on the ante whenever the player has two pairs or better, regardless of whether the player beats the dealer.

The full pay table on the ante bonus is as follows: royal flush, 1,000 x ante; straight flush, 200 x ante; four of a kind, 100 x ante; full house, 25 x ante; flush, 15 x ante; straight, 8 x ante; three of a kind, 5 x ante; two pairs, 2 x ante.

Those payoffs won't get us back everything we lose on the base game, but the effect is to lower the overall house edge on the ante-bet-bet combination to 3.3 percent for the player who bets every hand. According to wizardofodds.com/games, that's the best strategy - never fold.

There's also an optional three-card bonus bet that is the same as the Pair Plus bet in Three Card Poker. On the best pay table, three-card straight flushes pay 40-1, and you get 30-1 on three of a kind, 6-1 on straights, 4-1 on flushes and even money on a pair. House edge is 2.3 percent on this pay table. If the flush payoff is dropped to 3-1, the house edge soars to 7.3 percent, something Three Card Poker players have had to deal with in other parts of the country.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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:

> More Books By John Grochowski