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Best of Elliot Frome

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Four Card Poker – Growing and Growing

27 September 2004

About six weeks ago, I wrote a column here talking about the success of Three Card Poker. There is no doubt that it's the top proprietary game of all time. It will probably stay that way for a while, too. There is, however, for the first time, the prospects of a new game coming up from behind which might just someday take the title away from Three Card Poker.

Four Card Poker was invented by Roger Snow, Manager of Table Games for Shuffle Master. It made its debut about a year ago in California, and in just a year has grown to more than 130 tables across the country. You can find tables in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and soon in Connecticut (Mohegan Sun).

Four Card Poker is an intriguing game. First of all, the name is a bit of a misnomer. You try and make the best possible Four card hand from the FIVE cards you are dealt. The Dealer gets his advantage from the fact that he gets SIX cards to make his best Four Card hand, although one of his cards is dealt up.

The game bears some similarities to Three Card Poker in there are two distinct games being played. The first, called Aces Up, is like Pair Plus. It pays if the Player is dealt at least a Pair of Aces. There are a variety of paytables that are available for use by the casinos but at the moment, the most popular one (50/ 40/ 8/ 6/ 4/ 2/ 1) in use, leaves a bit to be desired in terms of payback. The payback of this paytable is only 95.76%.

The second wager is called Ante/Play and pits the Player's hand directly against the Dealer's hand. Unlike Three Card Poker, the Dealer does not need his hand to qualify. This means if you're dealt a big hand, and the dealer is dealt junk, you're still going to get your big payout. Once you've seen your cards and the Dealer's up card, you can either 'Fold' forfeiting your Ante, or 'Play', placing an additional bet up to 3x your original Ante. This allows you to really sock it to the House when you've got a big hand. Additionally, if you have one of the top 3 hands - Four of a Kind, Straight Flush or Three of a Kind, you'll get an additional bonus payout.

Fortunately, Ante/Play is far more competitive than Aces Up. Ante/Play returns 98.4+% payback. If you follow Shuffle Master's 'basic' strategy, you can get about 98.4% payback. If you go with my 'Expert Strategy' that I've discussed in previous articles, you can push that up to 98.6%. This isn't quite equivalent to most full-pay video poker machines, but it does beat out most other Table Games, and gives the Player a respectable chance at leaving a winner. Players should be advised, however, that the betting structure of Four Card Poker does leave the game a bit more volatile than similar games. As Roger Snow put it 'One of three things typically happens. One, you double up. Two, you get crushed. Three, both one and two, and not necessarily in that order.'

As a final note, in previous columns about Four Card Poker, I've made mention of an upcoming booklet, Expert Strategy for Four Card Poker. I'm proud to announce IT'S HERE! For those of you local to Las Vegas, you should be able to find it at the Gambler's Book Club or Gambler's General Store within the next few days. I should also have it available on our website (www.vpheaven.com) shortly as well.

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome
Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome