Criss Cross Poker is a proprietary casino table game by AGS. Its name comes from the ✚ shape of community cards dealt on the table.
Unlike in the regular poker rules, players don’t hold their own hands. They combine communal crisscross cards plus two personal cards to make the best five-card hand.
The game was a for-fun variation developed by online poker players in the early 2010s. By 2014, the game was officially adopted by several casinos and has begun to rise in popularity.
How to Play Criss Cross Poker?
Criss Cross Poker is played using the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck pattern. Only a single deck is used, and between 2-8 Players can participate in a game.
In front of each Player’s individual seat will be a number of Play zones, or “Boxes.” These boxes are the Across Ante, the Down Ante, the Five-Card Bonus, and the Across Bet, Middle Bet, and Down Bet boxes.
Criss Cross, like most Table-Poker games, requires an Ante to be paid by players before cards can be dealt. In Criss Cross, however, one Ante is actually two.
Players must make two equal wagers into the Across Ante, and into the Down Ante. Criss Cross Poker is essentially playing two games of Texas Hold’em simultaneously. As such, Players must make two antes, one for each game.
These Antes will normally be forced to conform to proscribed betting limits set by the table, minimums, and maximums that will be posted on a sign near the table.
Five-Card Bonus Wager
Once a Player has made their Antes, they are welcome to make an additional bonus wager.
The Five-Card Bonus is a special bonus that pays out based on the five cards that make up the Cross of Community Cards for which Criss Cross Poker is named.
If those five community cards form a meld, the Player wins a payout further explained in the “Payouts” section below.
Keep in mind that Players win this five-card bonus even if they do not beat the Dealer in the normal procedure of the game.
Once Antes have been made, and Players who choose to have made optional bonus wagers, then the Dealer will begin the actual deal.
Two cards will be dealt face-down to each Player, just as in Texas Hold’em. These cards are personal to the Player, and should not be shared with the table even though they are only facing off against the Dealer.
Once each Player has been dealt two cards, the Dealer will deal themselves two face-down cards, and then deal out five cards face-down in the following manner:
These cards will make up the community cards of the game.
Notice that when going from top to bottom, or left to right, there are two separate groupings of 3 cards that can be made. These three cards will make up the community cards of their respective “Orientation.” This is why there are Across and Down bets to be made.
Firstly, there is the Across Bet. This can also be thought of as the “Flop”. These are the first community cards to be revealed. Players may wager exactly 1x, 2x, or 3x their initial Across ante.
Once each Player has made their Across Bet, the Dealer will reveal the left and right cards in the cross:
The next phase of the game begins, and one can think of this as the Turn. The same procedure occurs, with Players betting 1, 2, or 3 times their initial Down ante, and once each Player has made their wager, the Dealer will reveal the top and bottom cards:
Players then make their final wager, the Middle Bet. The procedure is the same as before, with the Middle card being wagered on this time.
Comparing Hands in the Showdown
Players then compare their two hands to the Dealer’s two hands, and achieve payouts or pay their wagers to the House when appropriate.
Players are attempting to form two five-card poker hands that outmatch the Dealer’s respective five-card hand in the same category. So Across faces Across, and Down faces Down in the showdown.
- The Across Wager pays out when your five-card poker hand formed from the three left-to-right cards in the cross beats the Dealer’s equivalent Across hand.
- The Down Wager pays out the same for the three top-to-bottom cards.
- The Middle Wager pays out when the Player is able to win with either of their hands. If both of the Player’s hands were winning hands, then the highest-ranking hand would be the one used to determine the payout.
Players receive different payouts for successful hands, depending on the meld they were able to form. These payouts will be explained further in the “Payouts and Odds” section below. Further, so will the Five-Card Bonus, which has its own special payout that Players receive even if they lose.
Once each Player has had their showdown against the Dealer, and lost money or received payouts as appropriate, the Dealer will collect the cards and a new game can begin.
Criss Cross Poker Rules
You can find a summary of the Criss Cross Poker rules below:
- Players MUST make two equal antes at the start of the game, the Across Ante and the Down Ante.
- Players use their two personal cards in conjunction with the three Across and Three Down cards in order to form two five-card Poker hands in order to beat the Dealer.
- There are no qualifications in Criss Cross, both the Dealer and the Player play with the hands they are dealt.
- You can fold either hand, or both, if you so choose. To fold, simply do not place additional money into the Across, Middle, and Down bets. However, if you fold all three hands, you cannot receive any payout except for the five-card bonus.
See the official rack card by AGS
Payouts and Odds
The Across, Middle, and Down wagers all payout with the same odds. You are paid for the meld you are able to form with the respective hand, or in the case of the middle wager, if either of your hands were able to beat the Dealer’s two hands.
- The Middle wager pays out for the highest value hand which beat the Dealer.
- Antes are always paid out on a 1:1 basis for games that were won against the Dealer.
- Antes and Wagers on hands that lost are taken by the House.
As all of the payouts are the same, regardless of which wager a Player succeeded on, the following paytable can be considered for each possible non-bonus wager.
- High Pairs, in the table above, are any face cards and Aces.
- Low pairs are pairs made of cards ranked 6-10.
Any pairs made of cards lower ranked than 6 result in a loss of the wager, even if it was able to beat the Dealer’s hand.
Across Bet Odds
Although their payouts are the same, the odds of the Across Bet are actually slightly worse than the odds of the Down Bet. This is because, by the time the down cards are revealed, the two across cards have already been revealed.
This reduces the total card pool from 52-(2x Number of Players) to 50-(2x Number of Players). Although this seems like a small distinction, it does mean that the overall house edge is about 1% less on the Down Bet than on the Across Bet, meaning the Down Bet is ever so slightly the better of the two wagers.
Five-Card Bonus Payouts
Additionally, there is the Five-Card Bonus payout table. The Five-card bonus is a five-card poker hand made up of the five community cards in the center of the table. The payouts for this hand are below:
|Low Pair or Better
A Low pair in the 5-card bonus table is the same definition as in the regular wagers table above. Pairs ranked 6 or higher. The Five-card Bonus pays out, even if Players are unable to beat the Dealer with either of their two hands.
Imagine the following are your two hole-cards:
And suppose the Across Cards are:
3♦ 2♦ 8♣
And suppose the Down Cards are:
6♣ 2♦ Q♠
A pair of Kings in the hand is even stronger in Criss Cross than it is in normal games of Poker. This is because you are very likely to win at least one of your hands. The odds of the Dealer having better than a pair of Kings in both of their hands is extremely unlikely.
As such, you are almost guaranteed to win one of your hands with a pair of Kings alone. Although the payout is only 1:1, you should definitely wager on your middle bet, as well as your Across and Down wagers.
Even though you might lose one of the wagers, the other wager and middle wager will both pay out for a net profit.
Do Not Be Afraid to Fold
Like all Poker based table games, Criss Cross Poker is a game of patience. Do not be afraid to fold when it would be very unlikely for you to win.
Folding on a hand that seems hopeless might seem like giving up on the small chance of victory, but in actuality, you are saving your chips in order to participate in more games.
This increases your chances of being dealt more cards, which therefore increases your chances of winning a hand and recouping losses.
Utilize the Middle Wager Liberally
If you believe you have more than a 50% chance of winning one of your hands, then always bet the middle wager.
Even in cases where you lose, if you win and lose at about the same rate, you will still achieve a profit because you are receiving two payouts for the loss of a single hand.
How do you win at Criss Cross Poker?
Criss Cross Poker is “won” by receiving more money than you lose. This money is based on a paytable that pays more money if a higher value meld is achieved.
Players can win up to four different wagers, depending on the game’s performance.
What are the odds of winning?
The overall odds of at least pushing one of your hands in a game of Criss Cross Poker before any cards have been dealt is about 48%. This is derived from the natural 52% chance of losing.
What is the Middle Bet in Criss Cross Poker?
The Middle Bet is a bet made on the possibility that either one or both of your hands are able to beat the Dealer in the Showdown.
The Middle Bet pays out based on the payout table above, with the highest ranking meld which was able to beat the Dealer used to calculate winnings.
What is the 5-Card Rule in Criss Cross Poker?
The 5-card Rule, or the Five Card Bonus, is a special side bonus players may wager into. This wager will pay out if the five community cards are able to form a meld on their own, with the payout increased as the meld becomes higher in value.