Mississippi Stud is a paytable game

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Last week, I began the discussion of the game of Mississippi Stud Poker.

Mississippi Stud is a paytable game meaning that the dealer does not have a hand and the player’s hand does not play against any other hand. All that matters is the final rank of the player’s 5-card Poker hand.

Read Last Week’s Article: Mississippi Stud Poker has unique history

I’ve always considered Mississippi Stud to be a revved up version of Let It Ride. Where Let It Ride has essentially optional additional wagers, MS Stud has all mandatory wagers. As the game progresses, the player must keep wagering to stay in or he must fold. As a result, the game is not for the faint of heart.

When there is an optional wager, the player will only make it if there is a positive expectation. A mandatory wager needs to be made sometimes in order to protect the money already wagered.

You don’t want to throw good money after bad, but sometimes you have to make another wager in order to see how the hand unfolds. The bottom line is to play at a $5 MS Stud table, you better have a bigger bankroll than you would bring to a $5 Let It Ride table.

I covered the strategy for the first two wagers in my last column. These are relatively easy to learn strategies. The final wager which is after the player has seen four of his five cards is a little bit more complex.

Up until now, the impact of drawing a Straight or a Flush has been mostly in the background. It had some impact to our decision-making process, but not much of one. With only one card left to go, these hands become very important to the strategy.

It has so much of an impact that not only does a potential Straight of Flush keep you in the game, it actually has you making a 3x wager at this point if you have a 4-Card Flush or 4-Card Straight Flush.

If you have a 4-Card Outside Straight with an 8-high or better (which is most of them), then you also wager 3x. The only other hands that you wager 3x on are the sure winners — a Pair of 6’s or better.

At this point, if you have one of the aforementioned 4-Card Straight/Flush hands, you have a positive expectation. The odds of hitting the hand multiplied by the payout is greater than 1, so you want to bet as much as you can.

That brings us to the hands that we wager 1x for. Any other type of 4-Card Straight that did not warrant a 3x fits into this category. This includes even the lowest 4-Card Inside Straight (2-3-4-6).

Next up is the Low Pair. This is an interesting hand, potentially. If you had the Low Pair after the first two cards, you wagered 3x at that point. But if you don’t improve as the 3rd and/or 4th card is dealt, you have to pull back and only go with 1x.

What we have left are the non-Pair hands that can’t turn into a Straight or a Flush. Essentially, we are just hoping to catch a Pair. We are wagering at this point mostly because we have at least three units on the table and putting a fourth one down is worth it because of the potential win if we can pull minimally a Medium Pair and preferably a High Pair.

In this category, we have the following hands:

• If the player has two or more High Cards

• If the player has 1 High Card and 2 or more Medium Cards

• If the player has 3 Medium Cards and has wagered five or more up until now.

This last category is somewhat rare. But it is possible that the player was initially dealt two Medium Cards and wagered 3x to go with his initial one unit Ante. The first community card was also a Medium Card, which the player also wagered 1x. He has now wagered five units to this point and thus should stay in even if the second community card was a Low Card.

This all assumes that the player followed proper strategy. If for some reason, he didn’t, this rule still applies, but he just might get here via a different path.

If you follow the strategy that I’ve given over the past two weeks, MS Stud can provide a payback of 98.04-98.60 percent depending on the paytable in use. As the only difference in the paytable is the Full House, there is no impact to the strategy based on this.

The only proprietary table game that provides a higher payback (especially with the better paytable) may be Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The average wager is 3.57 units per hand, so you will need to be prepared with a sizeable bankroll and a lot of patience.

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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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