Mississippi Stud Poker has unique history

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Last week, I discussed the game of Let It Ride and how it was one of the earlier games in the evolution of table games.

There is little doubt, in my opinion, that as time has gone on the games went from relatively tame to far more juiced up. Let It Ride might look intimidating because you have to make three wagers. So, for a $5 game, you are placing $15 in wagers. But you rarely leave two of those wagers out there. And when you do, it is often for a sure winner. On a $5 table, the true total average wager is only a bit over $6.

The next step in the evolution was to create a game that has a higher volatility. You wager more, but you can win more.

Enter Mississippi Stud Poker or Let It Ride on Speed as I like to call it. Where Let It Ride was a success story almost immediately, Mississippi Stud Poker has a history like no other casino game. The game was originally conceptualized in about 2005, I believe. It was the brainchild of Mark Yoseloff, who was the CEO of Shuffle Master at the time.  When the CEO of your company has a game idea, it moves forward whether people like it or not. Like Let It Ride, it is a paytable game – perhaps the only other successful paytable game. It plays a lot like Let It Ride with one key difference. Instead of having the option to make additional wagers, these wagers are now mandatory. You either make them or fold.

Mississippi Stud had only a table or two in the entire country for nearly five years before the game began to catch on. Most games with only a couple of tables would have died long before five years.

To begin play, the player makes a single ante wager and is given two cards, while three community cards are dealt face down. To win (or at least not lose), the player must wind up with a pair of 6’s or better. Pairs of 6’s – 10’s push, returning all wagers. Pair of Jacks or better begin actual paying hands.

All wagers pay per the paytable. After reviewing his two cards, the player has three options – fold, play 1x or play 3x of his ante. The dealer will turn over the first of the community cards. Again, the player may fold, play 1x or play 3x of his ante. The dealer will now turn over the second community card and again the player may fold, play 1x or play 3x. Finally, the last community card is revealed and the dealer pays winning hands.

If the player is dealt a pair of 6’s or better on his first two cards, he is going to have 10 times his original wager up there in total – but he is a guaranteed winner (or non-loser). Pull Trips, which pays 3-1 and a $5 player just won $150. Managed to get Quads and you are talking about winning $2,000.

Of course, few hands turn out this way. Many Trips and Quads don’t start out with a pair on the first two cards. Obviously, Straights and Flushes never do.

Playing proper strategy requires that the player will fold just over 31 percent of the time after seeing his first two cards. This is one of the reasons its potential success was doubted.

The player not only folds often, but folds early, leaving a lot of time when he’s staring into space. The player will fold eight percent of the time after the first community card and nearly five percent after the second, for a total fold rate of nearly 45 percent.

The strategy for Mississippi Stud is also a bit more complex than for its predecessor game. You now have to know when to fold, when to play 1x and when to play 3x. 

I’ll go over a partial strategy here. After your initial two cards, you should play 3x if you have a pair and play 1x if you have at least one High Card (Jack or Better) or two Medium Cards (6’s – 10’s).

After seeing the first community cards, you should Play 3x if you have any of the following:

• Pair of 6’s or Better

• 3-Card Royal

• 3-Card Straight Flush (not Inside) where at least 2 of the cards are Medium Cards

• 3-Card Inside Straight Flush with at least 1 High Card

• 3-Card Double Inside Straight Flush with at least 2 High Cards  

Play 1x at this point if you have any of the following:

• Low Pair

• 3-Card Flush

• At least 1 High Card and 1 Medium Card

• At least 2 High Cards

• 3 Medium Cards

Next week, I’ll wrap up my thoughts on Mississippi Stud Poker and review the strategy for the final wager. 

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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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