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Last week, I began discussing the two games that followed Three Card Poker in the history of proprietary table games.

They were developed by the same person (Roger Snow) at about the same time. They are Four Card Poker and Crazy 4 Poker. I discussed Four Card Poker in more detail last week and this week, I will cover more about Crazy 4 Poker.

As I mentioned last time, neither game actually involves being dealt four cards, but rather playing four cards from a larger hand. In the case of Crazy 4, both player and dealer are dealt five cards. As such, the house has to find another way to get its advantage.

This where Crazy 4 Poker became transformational in the history of table games. To begin play, the player must make two equal sized wagers – the ante and the Super Bonus. The player and the dealer are each dealt five cards (face down). The player, after reviewing his hand, may now either fold or play, making another wager equal to his ante.

If the player has a pair of Aces or better, he may make a player wager that is 3x his ante. Once each player has acted, the dealer will reveal his hand and resolve all wagers.

If the dealer does not have at least a King high, his hand does not qualify, the ante will push and the play will pay even money. If the dealer qualifies, then both wagers will pay even money if the player’s hand outranks the dealer’s hand. Both wagers will lose if the dealer’s hand outranks the player’s hand.

That brings us to the Super Bonus. The Super Bonus works like a combination of the blind in the more modern games and the ante bonus from Three and Four Card Poker.

If the player has a Straight or better, the Super Bonus is paid per a paytable, regardless of the head-to-head showdown. The player can be paid as much as 200 to 1 if he gets Quad Aces.

If the player has less than a Straight and wins the hand or the dealer does not qualify, then the Super Bonus pushes. If the player loses to a qualified sealer hand, the Super Bonus loses.

Determining the strategy for Crazy 4 Poker was relatively similar to Four Card Poker. We need to decide when to wager 1x vs. 3x and when to fold vs. play.

The rules of the game made part of this very easy. If the player has a pair of Aces, he will win the hand 80 percent of the time. Thus, the player wants to wager 3x anytime he is allowed to. Ideally, he would love to wager 3x even with lower pairs, but he isn’t allowed to do this.

There are too many differences between Crazy 4 and Four Card Poker to assume that we would use the same strategy. First, the dealer gets one less card. Two, there is qualifying. Three, we would be forfeiting two units instead of one.

In the end, the strategy is still as simple, but at a different point. If you have a K-Q-8 or better, you play. There are a few hands that K-Q-8 that should be folded and some K-Q-7 that should be played, but my analysis shows the impact to be 0.01 – 0.02 percent to payback.

The risk of error by trying to memorize these outliers simply isn’t worth it. Using the strategy described here, the payback of Crazy 4 Poker is 98.92 percent which is very strong, especially for a table game with such easy strategy.

What can we expect when we play Crazy 4? You can expect to fold about 23.5 percent of the time, which is significantly less than Three Card Poker. So, you’ll be in the action more often. You’ll wager 3x just under 19 percent of the time.

This is a key point. Frequently, players are timid about placing such large wagers on hands that are marginal – close the the strategy point. But as stated earlier, a pair of Aces is not really near the decision point. You will win this hand 80 percent of the time.

You need to wager 3x when you get these hands if you want to achieve anything close to the theoretical payback. You will win these hands with the dealer qualifying 75 percent of the time.

In between folding and playing 3x are all the play 1x hands. You can expect to win about 37 percent of these hands, which means it may be a bit of a grind if this is where your hands keep showing up.

Of course, there will be a vast difference between the K and Ace High hands and the pair hands. The bottom line is that Crazy 4 Poker offers the player a strong payback with a relatively easy strategy.

The biggest challenge at this point may be finding the game. While it is considered a very successful table game, it is not up there with Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. 

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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