Among the new age proprietary table games that have managed to hog the limelight in the offline and online casino industry (for instance casinos like Bet365 and others), there are a handful which have really gained a tremendous amount of fan following and have left a major mark on this market.
Three card poker is one such game that has become a huge favourite of many conventional poker players for the reasonable odds, exciting jackpot type of payouts (possible in any hand) and a relaxed game pace that it provides.
However, poker researchers and players everywhere thought - Why should they stop at the three cards version?! Another new age variant of poker and a spin-off of three card poker, which is commonly seen in almost every offline and online casino throughout the world (for ex. Bet365 etc.), is known as four card poker. The concept of this game is quite similar to the three card poker, and you’re handed an extra card for making a poker hand. However, despite the fact that there are certain rules that tilt this game in favour of poker players, there’s also a rule that’s specifically devised for testing the players’ strategies and to keep them on their toes. Although you’re required to make your best four card poker hand in this game (from the dealt 5 cards), the dealer receives 6 cards in total, thus increasing the house edge.
Basics of the game
Every player gets the opportunity of placing either one bet or both of the two available bets – aces up and the ante bet.
Ante bet is normally treated as the primary bet in four card poker, but as is seen in case of three card poker, you’re not obligated to place this bet to wager on aces up. It’s the same vice versa. Let’s begin by discussing the flow of ante bet, and then throw some light on the aces up.
Every player is dealt 5 cards in facedown position by the dealer. A standard deck of 52 cards is used for playing the game. Once the players receive their 5 cards, the dealer deals 6 cards to himself/herself. One out of these 6 cards is placed in face up position on the table, while the remaining 5 stay in facedown position. Regardless of whether you’re playing four card poker in a brick and mortar environment or an online casino like Bet365, you’re not supposed to peek at other players’ cards at this point of the game, as doing so can potentially allow you to use that information to your advantage. And that won’t be fair!
All players who have placed ante bets must now decide whether they wish to raise the bet amount or fold their hands. Anyone who chooses to fold his/her cards must forfeit his/her bet. On the other hand, if a player chooses to raise the bet amount, he/she must place the second wager, the raise, on the poker table. This raise can be anywhere from one to three times of the ante bet amount.
Once this betting round is complete, the players can select four out of the 5 cards dealt to them and make their best 4 card poker hand, discarding the fifth card. Every player tries to make the strongest possible hand using his/her cards. The hand rankings applicable to the game are the same that are used in standard poker, wherein higher ranks beat the lower ranks among the same hand types. However, as there are just 4 cards in every hand, the possible hand rankings are a little different.
Following are the hand rankings used in this game, from best to worst:
– 4 of a kind
– Straight flush
– 3 of a kind
– 2 pair
– High card
After every player is done making his/her best four card poker hand, the dealer reveals his/her cards. He/she makes the best possible four card poker hand that he/she can make, discarding 2 cards (as he/she was dealt 6 cards in total). At this point, all players compare their hands with that of the dealer and whichever player’s hand gets beaten by the dealer, loses his/her bet/s. In case a player’s hand is better than that of the dealer, or if it’s a tie, it’s the player who wins.
All winning players are provided even money returns on their raised and ante bets. Any player who gets a 3 of a kind or a better hand, is also awarded a bonus, regardless of whether he/she actually wins that game or not. Majority of the casinos have the following bonus payout for such hands:
– 4 of a kind is paid out at 25 to 1
– Straight flush is paid out at 20 to 1
– 3 of a kind is paid out at 2 to 1
Let’s now go over the aces up bet
Aces up bet in four card poker
If you know about the pair plus bet of three card poker, you’d be able to quickly learn and master the workings of the aces up bet as well! How this bet turns out for you is entirely dependent on how strong your hand actually is. The result of this bet is not at all contingent upon the dealer’s hand. In fact, at some of the off-line and online casinos, you can even win your aces up bet after having folded your hand (with regard to the ante bet; however, you should ideally never fold a hand that is good enough to win an aces up bet).
You stand to win an ace up bet only and only if you get a very strong hand, which consists of at least a couple of aces. The extent of bonus amount increases with the strength of the hand, and you can win a maximum return of 50 to 1 if you score a 4 of a kind. As with the ante bet, the payout structure of the aces up bet may also vary from table to table and casino to casino. Regardless, the most commonly noted payout structure for this wager type is as follows:
– 4 of a kind is paid out at 50 to 1
– Straight flush is paid out at 40 to 1
– 3 of a kind is paid out at 8 to 1
– Flush is paid out at 5 to 1
– Straight is paid out at 4 to 1
– 2 pairs is paid out at 3 to 1
– A pair of aces is paid out even at 1 to 1
A bit about the four card poker strategy
The game of four card poker is considered a pretty fair casino card game by any casino standards. Although the odds in this game aren’t as favourable for the player as in case of pass line on craps or blackjack, the overall house edge is a pretty reasonable 2.79%, making it comparable to majority of the popular casino games.
The only problem in four card poker is that the exact strategy needed for achieving best returns in it is pretty complex to say the least! In fact, if you carry out some off-line and online research on the ideal four card poker strategy, you’d hardly find one that’d cover all possible combinations and situations related to the dealer’s up card and the players’ cards, all of which have a huge role to play in deciding the exact house edge. Rather, you’re going to come across a great multitude of simple strategies which take players marginally close to good results.
To give you an example, all starting out four card poker players can benefit from a certain ‘beginner strategy’ marketed by a large number of so-called poker strategists. Using this strategy, you can reduce the house edge to below 3.4%. All you need to do is remember three important rules and you’ll be able to implement it successfully! These three rules are:
– Fold all hands that don’t have at least a pair
– Raise the ante bet 3 times if you get a pair of tens or a higher hand
– Raise the ante bet 1 times if you score any other pair
Then there are other complex strategies which involve player having to consider both the visible card of the dealer’s hand and his/her own hand. One of the best strategies of four card poker to have ever been devised by anyone, especially in terms of its simplicity and the kind of returns it can deliver, was by someone known as Michael Shackelford. Using this strategy you can easily bring down the casino advantage to around 2.85%. The main rules of this strategy are:
– Raise your bet 3 times if you get a pair of aces or a higher hand
– Raise your bet 3 times if you get a pair of Jacks, pair of Queens or a pair of Kings, and the dealer’s face up card is lower than the rank of your pair or is the same. Else raise 1 times
– Raise your bet 3 times if you get a pair of nines or a pair of tens, and the dealer’s face up card is lower than the rank of your pair, or is the same. Else raise 1 times
– Raise your bet 3 times if you get a pair of eights and the dealer’s face up card is 2. Else raise 1 times.
– Raise your bet 1 times if you get a pair of threes, pair of fours, pair of fives, pair of sixes or a pair of sevens
– Raise only one times if you score a pair of twos or have a queen, king or an ace high, and the dealer’s face up card is lower than or equal to the ranked card of your hand. Else fold.
– Fold any hand lower than the one detailed above.
But how to go about the aces up wager? This bet features a house edge of around 3.89% at majority of offline and online casino pay tables (including the likes of Bet365 and more), which is slightly higher compared to the ante bet, but much better compared to the majority of side bets you can place in an off-line or online casino. Furthermore, this type of bet can be comparatively cheaper to play, making it an added benefit. Why this is so is because there are no additional bets for you to make. That, combined with the potential of scoring a 50 to 1 payout, makes aces up bet a highly popular bet among four card poker players; despite the fact that its odds aren’t very impressive.
While three card poker has already reached great heights in the casino world, four card poker is also rapidly catching up on popularity, and is definitely an excellent addition to the poker family. It provides reasonable winning chances to players, and plenty of profitable possibilities to players who know how to exploit strategies and improve their odds. At the same time, it isn’t disadvantages for anyone who wishes to just sit down and play a nice game of poker. As in case of its three card counterpart, you stand to win huge sums of money if you score a really nice hand on a side bet. All in all, four card poker is definitely a card game you can look forward to when visiting an off-line or online casino next time.