Rabbit Hunter

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As I worked on one of Shuffle Master’s latest games, I kept hearing the voice of Elmer Fudd in my head saying (over and over again) – “I’m out hunting wabbits, heheheheheh.”
With a name like Rabbit Hunter, is it any wonder? 
The term rabbit hunting in poker generally means someone who tries to find out how his hand would have turned out if the deal had continued until the end.
In a game of Texas Hold’em, this might mean that if someone wins after the turn, one of the other players might want to see the river card to see if he or she would have pulled that big hand. Generally, this is frowned upon, but not in the game of Rabbit Hunter.
This creation introduces a brand new concept to the table game – the idea of paying for an additional card. Unlike most hands where you might make an additional wager to stay in and get more cards, in Rabbit Hunter, you have the option to literally buy an additional one with the money you pay going right to the casino.
This extra card can help you win more on your other wagers, but the money you pay is gone. 
Let’s cover the basics of the game. The player begins by making an ante wager and an optional bonus bet. The player and dealer each get five cards face down. The dealer will also deal a sixth card face down to the player in a separate spot.
The player may review the initial five cards he is dealt and then has some choices. He can fold, forfeiting his ante and bonus wager. He can make an additional wager (play wager) equal to his ante, which will allow him to go head-to-head against the dealer. And, he may make that play wager plus buy the sixth card for an amount equal to his ante wager.
Note: The player can’t buy the card without also making the play wager.
Assuming the player does not fold, his five (or six) card hand will go head-to-head against the dealer’s five card hand. His hand will also be used to determine if he wins the bonus wager. In both cases, if the player bought the sixth card, he may use any five of the six to make his hand. 
If the dealer’s hand is not at least an ace high, the player’s ante wager is a push and the play bet will be paid even money if the player’s hand outranks the dealer’s hand. If the dealer’s hand qualifies with an ace high or better, both the ante and play wagers will pay even money if the player’s hand outranks the dealer’s hand.
If the dealer’s hand outranks the player’s hand, the play wager is lost. The player will win the bonus wager if his hand is at least a pair of 10’s or better. The dealer’s hand is irrelevant.
There are several pay tables that have been developed for Rabbit Hunter. Technically, the payback of the bonus wager is over 100 percent, but as you cannot play it stand alone, this value is meaningless. As a result, the ante/play portion has a payback that leaves something to be desired.
Together, however, they result in a payback that can be over 99 percent when proper strategy is utilized. This means learning both when to play or fold and when to buy the sixth card or not. I’ll present the strategy in a future column.
Rabbit Hunter is already live in two casinos – The Pala Casino in Pala, California and the Jackson Rancheria in Jackson, California. If you’re at G2E this week in Las Vegas, you can also drop by the Shuffle Master booth where the game will also be on display.
Shuffle Master will also be showing another of its newer games, Dealer Bluff, that I had the pleasure of working on.
Dealer Bluff is the first game to utilize card recognition technology in the game play itself. In essence, the table knows what cards were dealt to the dealer which allows the dealer to act first.
The player and dealer are each dealt their hands. The computer scans the dealer’s cards and then tells the table that the dealer has either checked or bet 1x, 2x or 3x. This is determined by a combination of the dealer’s hand, a built in table that determines how often the dealer should do each based on his hand rank and a random number generator.
By doing this, the dealer might bet 2x with nothing or check with a big hand. Hence, how the ‘bluffing’ is generated.
The player can either ‘match’ the dealer’s wager (by either checking or betting 1x, 2x or 3x his original ante wager) or he may choose to come over the top and ‘raise’ the dealer. The player does this by betting either 1x, 2x, 4x or 6x his original wager (depending on what the dealer did). The dealer does not have the option to fold, so whatever the player does is the final wager. 
Dealer Bluff is at the Thunder Valley Casino, also in California. If you’d like to play without risking your bankroll, you’ll have an opportunity at Shuffle Master’s booth this coming week. The strategy for both games is not hard to learn.
In coming weeks, I hope to review both. For now, I’m looking forward to seeing both of these games and any other new ones at the Convention Center this week.


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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