Four card poker is a relatively new casino card game similar to three card poker, invented by Roger Snow and owned by ShuffleMaster.
The player makes an ante bet and may also make an aces-up bet. Five playing cards are dealt to the player who has to make the best four-card hand possible. The dealer is dealt five cards face down, and one card face up, a total of six cards. He also has to make the best four-card hand. After seeing his cards and the dealer’s face up card, the player can opt to fold, in which case he receives nothing, or play, by betting 1-3 times his ante.
If the player has three of a kind or better, he will receive a bonus based on the ante wager as follows: three of a kind – 2 to 1, straight flush – 20 to 1, four of a kind – 25 to 1. The ante bonus is ‘automatic’ and is paid regardless of whether or not the player’s hand has beaten the dealer’s hand.
The aces-up bet is resolved independently of the dealer’s hand, purely on the rank of the player’s payout. The specific payout depends on the payout in use, with payouts for a pair of aces (pays even money on the aces-up wager) or better.
The dealer has an advantage in having an extra card from which to select the best four, and the fact that if the player folds, he will lose his ante, even if his hand was better than the dealers. The player gets return from the bonus bet payment and from the ability to raise by more than one unit one the hand is good.
Perfect strategy for when to raise and fold is somewhat complex, but a simple strategy (shown below) has been developed. With optimal play, the ante + play bet has a house edge of about 3.36% of the initial bet.
A simple strategy (as listed on the new bitcoin casinos information pamphlet available at some four card poker tables) dictates the following when playing the ante bet:
Pair of 2’s or less, fold.
Pair of 3’s through 9’s, bet 1x ante.
Pair of 10’s or better, bet 3x ante.
The following general rules apply to evaluating poker hands, whatever set of hand values are used.
* Individual cards are ranked A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (low, but only when part of an A-2-3-4-5 straight or straight flush).
Individual card ranks are often used to evaluate hands that contain no pairs or other special combinations, or to rank the kickers of otherwise equal hands. The ace only plays low in ace-to-five and ace-to-six lowball games, and only plays high in deuce-to-seven lowball.
* Suits have no value.
The suits of the cards are mainly used in determining whether a hand fits a certain category (specifically the flush and straight flush hands). In most variants, if two players have hands that are identical except for suit, then they are tied and split the pot. Sometimes a ranking called high card by suit is used for randomly selecting a player to deal.
* A hand always consists of five cards.
In games where more than five cards are available to each player, hands are ranked by choosing some five-card subset according to the rules of the game, and comparing that five-card hand against the five-card hands of the other players. Whatever cards remain after choosing the five to be played are of no consequence in determining the winner. (For example, when comparing identical full houses, there are no “kickers”.)
* Hands are ranked first by category, then by individual card ranks.
That is, even the minimum qualifying hand in a certain category defeats all hands in all lower categories. The smallest two pair hand, for example, defeats all hands with just one pair or high card. Only between two hands in the same category are card ranks used to break ties. The highest single card in each flush or straight is used to break ties (the ace-through-five straight is the lowest straight, the ace being a low card in this context). Within two two pair hands, the higher pairs are first compared. If they tie, then the secondary pairs are compared, and then finally the kicker.
* For ease of explanation, hands are shown here neatly arranged, but a poker hand has the same value no matter what order the cards are received in.