Is Four Card Poker Worth Playing?
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Every time I walk into a casino, I am immediately on the hunt for the latest games. That habit is partly due to the nature of my career, but I love casino games and want to see the latest additions in action on the casino floor.
Four Card Poker is one of the exciting games I’ve come across in my search for something different. It falls under the umbrella of poker derivative games, but it’s not poker at all.
Like all other poker derivatives, this is a house game. The players are competing against the house rather than other people.
It resembles poker because the game uses a deck of cards and familiar hand rankings from poker. Still, that can be confusing for novice gamblers who have heard that poker can make them a profit.
Can Four Card Poker change your fortunes?
Let’s look at all areas of the game and determine whether Four Card Poker is a hit or a miss.
Playing Poker Derivative Games
The first thing you should know about poker derivative games is that the casino has an advantage. In comparison, there’s no house edge when you play standard poker games like Texas Hold ’em. That’s because players are battling each other, and the house takes a rake.
You will be facing the dealer in games like Four Card Poker. Most players will be familiar with this if they’ve ever tried blackjack.
The setup automatically creates a considerable difference for the player.
The house can’t lose, so you are destined to fail in the long run.
The sole function of these games is to entertain the casino guests, so make sure to pick one that you like playing.
The good news is that you can always get lucky and leave the house ahead, just don’t count on it.
Where Did Four Card Poker Originate?
Four Card Poker comes to us from the people at Scientific Games, which owns Shuffle Master. Not everyone has heard that name, but any casino cards player has undoubtedly seen their product in action.
Shuffle Master provides shuffling machines, card shoes, and many other casino staples for most U.S. casinos.
Thanks to the Scientific Games, they are also responsible for many of the new table games that you see in casinos. They also make a generous profit for creating the latest and most exciting slot machines available.
Scientific Games is constantly working on new products, so that’s how Four Card Poker was brought to this world.
How to Play Four Card Poker
Four Card Poker rules are fairly straightforward. Your objective is to build a more substantial four-card hand than the dealer. Here’s what the flow of a typical hand looks like.
Players make their initial wagers on the ante or the Aces Up spaces on the table. The dealer then deals each player five cards, but the dealer gets six cards.
All of the dealer’s cards remain face down at this point except for the sixth card. The players who made an ante bet must now choose between a fold or a raise.
Players who raise must bet between 1-3x their ante bet. Players who fold are out of the hand.
The players then build their best four-card hand. The dealer will then develop their best four-card hand using the six available.
The winning hands are paid 1 to 1, and the dealer collects losing bets. If the players have three of a kind or better, they’ll also receive a bonus.
Players who made the Aces Up bet will be paid for any pair of Aces or better. I’ll get into the structure of the pay tables momentarily.
First, I want to cover one area of Four Card Poker that makes it better than many poker derivative games. That is the lack of any qualifiers on the dealer’s hand.
Many poker derivative games pad the house advantage by nullifying any hands where the dealer doesn’t have a minimum result. These rules are garbage, and I’ll flatly refuse to play any casino game where there are such blatantly poor conditions.
Four Card Poker Pay Table
The way the pay tables break down in Four Card Poker varies based on the games and what wager you make. For the bonus payouts on the ante bet, the breakdown is as follows.
- Three of a Kind pays 2:1
- Straight Flush 20:1
- Four of a Kind 25:1
These bonuses don’t pay as much as the Aces Up bet but don’t require players to make any additional wagers. However, the more lucrative Aces Up bonuses are less regular than the ante bonus.
Here is a general breakdown of the pay table players see on the Aces Up side bet.
- Pair of Aces 1:1
- Two Pair 3:1
- Straight 4:1
- Flush 5:1
- Three of a Kind 8:1
- Straight Flush 40:1
- Four of a Kind 50:1
You can see that the bonus payout is higher when you make the Aces Up wager, but you need to account for the odds of hitting the hand and how the house edge works against you on these bets.
Progressive Jackpots in Four Card Poker
Since Four Card Poker comes from a company heavily invested in bringing the latest slot machines to casinos, it’s probably no surprise that some Four card Poker games are attached to progressive jackpots.
These jackpots can often be triggered by placing an additional side wager of only $1 per hand. Still, that can start eating away at your bankroll without a few lucky breaks to collect on the prize.
Players will get a specified dollar amount ranging from $9 to $300 for qualifying hands. But big money lies at the top of the heap. A straight flush is worth 10% of the progressive, and four of a kind wins the entire jackpot.
It’s not at all uncommon for these progressive jackpots to be in the high five-figure or low six-figure range. So, hitting only one progressive could make your entire casino year.
Unfortunately, you’ll be burning so much additional money that your bankroll may not live to see such a big win.
Four Card Poker House Edge Explained
The game designers can’t sell casinos a game without proving that the house has an advantage. Otherwise, the entire exercise would be futile.
In Four Card Poker, two primary factors lead to the casinos’ advantage.
The first is that the players don’t get the complete picture.
Since they act on limited information, players often make decisions based on the assumption that the dealer has a good hand. The same strategy is employed in blackjack, and we’ve all seen how that works for the casino.
The second benefit the house is given is having an extra card. It’s like the casinos aren’t even trying to mask the fact that you’re at an extreme disadvantage.
Still, the house edge in Four Card Poker is just over 2.5%, thanks to the bonuses. That’s far from the worst games in the casino, but hardly anything to get excited over.
Four Card Poker Strategy
Many casino games have a strategy that, when played ideally, diminishes the house advantage. The basic strategy for playing Four Card Poker seems straightforward and based on maximizing bonuses.
Let’s look at how the most elementary strategy works in the player’s favor. Here are the three primary tenets of the Four Card Poker strategy.
- Raise the ante 3x with a pair of tens or better.
- Raise the ante 1x with any pair below tens.
- Fold all other hands.
There are more in-depth strategies available, but at some point, players need to look at what they’re getting in return. The basic strategy in blackjack will diminish the house edge down to 0.5%.
That’s a noticeable difference that has a genuine impact on your bankroll. In Four Card Poker, the best you’re hoping for is a bonus to set things in the black.
Can You Make Money Playing Four Card Poker?
The short answer to whether players can make money playing Four Card Poker is “no.”
The house edge is constantly working against you, and strategy won’t change that.
The best a player can hope for is to hit a progressive jackpot and secure those winnings. However, if you spend enough time at the table, those funds will eventually disappear.
Can Four Card Poker change your fortune in the casino?
That depends on where you place your emphasis when casino gambling. The game plays in an entertaining fashion, which is a huge selling point for some.
However, it’s not nearly as exciting and has more than double the house edge of craps. Combine that with the fact that you can’t make a profit regardless of your approach, and you’ve got another decent casino game that will slowly draw on your bankroll.
If the low house edge is your top priority, you should try the following 7 casino games with excellent RTP instead.