Four Card Poker is a poker-based table game that is played at many casinos that offer more than just the basic table games of Baccarat, Blackjack, and Ultimate Hold’em.
4 Card Poker, as well as Ultimate Texas Hold’em, was invented by Roger Snow, a prolific table game developer who has invented over 40 different games for casinos all over the world.
How to Play Four Card Poker?
Four Card Poker, like most Poker-Table games, is played using a standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. The game can be played by 2-6 Players, with each Player sitting at a particular seat of the table.
In front of each seat are a set of zones, or “Boxes” that Players will place their wagers within during the game.
These boxes are:
- The Ante
- Aces Up
- 6 Card Bonus.
Players will place wagers in these boxes during their appropriate phases of the game.
The Ante is a wager that all players must make before they are dealt any cards from the deck. Like most table games found in a casino, there are posted minimums and maximums that a Player must adhere to when making wagers.
The Ante must meet or exceed the minimum, and cannot go beyond the maximum.
The Player’s Ante will determine the wager that they can make on the Play box, which comes when Players decide whether they will Play the hand, or Fold, after seeing their cards.
The wager on the Play Box must equal exactly 1x, 2x, or 3x the value of the Ante wager.
Players also have access to two bonus wagers, which must be made at the same time as the Ante, before cards have been dealt. These are the Aces up and Sixth Card boxes.
Aces Up is simply a wager that a Player will receive a pair of aces in their hand, or a better 4-handed poker meld.
Aces Up pays out on a special pay table, further explained below in the Payouts section.
The Aces Up wager is not tied to the Ante, as the Play Box is. However, minimums and maximums may still apply to the Aces up wager.
The Sixth Card box, as its name suggests, is a bonus wager Players can make in order to be dealt a sixth card.
In order to make a Sixth Card wager, Players are compelled to also make an Aces Up wager, though the Aces Up wager and Sixth Card wager do not need to be equal.
Players may use this card in conjunction with the others in the hand to form the best 4-card meld. Players also receive separate payouts based upon a special paytable, which will be explained below in the Payouts section.
Now that the boxes have been explained, regular game procedures can be described.
Once each Player has made their Ante, as well as any additional bonus wagers that they choose to participate in, players will be dealt either 5 or 6 cards depending on their chosen bonuses.
From these five cards, players attempt to form the best possible 4-card poker hand that they can.
Unlike other games of Poker, players only face off against the Dealer in Four Card Poker.
When Players participate in the Sixth card bonus, they actually are trying to make the best 5-card hand, with two special payouts available for special 6-card melds.
If a Player does not feel that they can win against the Dealer, or their bonuses, with the cards they have been dealt, then the best course of action would be to fold.
When folding, a Player decides to forego putting a wager of any kind of their Play box. Although this means that a Player will forfeit any bonus wagers.
However, a Player is not required to place a wager into the Play box.
When choosing to Play, players place a wager equal to 1, 2, or 3 times the Ante wager, and face off against the Dealer.
If their 4-card hand is better than the Dealer’s, then they win 1:1 value for their Ante and Play wagers.
The Aces Up and Sixth Card wagers are paid out regardless of a Player’s performance in the Showdown against the Dealer.
Ending and New Hand
Once each Player has taken their turn in the Showdown against the Dealer, payouts or wagers are made or taken as requisite, and a new hand can begin.
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A brief summary of the 4 Card Poker rules can be found below:
- Players win ties rather than pushing in some other games.
- Players must qualify for Aces Up by having at least a pair of Aces or better.
- The dealer is always dealt 6 cards, rather than 5.
- Players that wish to be dealt a sixth card must also pay into the Aces up Wager.
This is a 4-card hand game, players do not form melds according to the traditional poker card ranks. Instead, 4 Card Poker follows the following Ranking from highest to lowest:
|4♦ 4♠ 4♥ 4♣
|3♥ 4♥ 5♥ 6♥
|3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 4♣
|3♥ 5♥ 6♥ 8♥
|3♣ 4♣ 5♣ 6♠
|2♥ 2♦ 6♠ 6♥
|2♦ 2♣ 8♣ 9♥
These melds determine the value of regular play, when in a Showdown against the Dealer.
Although this is slightly confusing, for the Showdown, players still form the best 4-card hand that they can.
It is only for the Sixth card bonus that Players attempt to form the best five-card hand.
Payouts and Bonus Wagers
The actual Showdown against the Dealer, for which the Ante and Play wagers are made, pays out a simple 1:1 even money.
There is a special circumstance: If a Player manages to form a 4-kind, Straight Flush, or Three-of-a-Kind, then they will be given 50/20/2 times their wager on the Ante and Play boxes, even if they lose against the Dealer.
This is known as the “Automatic Bonus.” However, the Aces Up and Sixth Card bonuses pay out based on different tables provided below.
The Aces Up Wager Payout Table
|Pair of Aces
Players receive the payout for their Aces Up even if they do not beat the Dealer, so long as they qualify.
The Aces Up bonus, like most bonuses, is actually slightly in favor of the casino rather than the player. Although the potential of great payout is there, this is actually only to entice players into paying into the bonus.
In actuality, players are much more likely to receive very little than they are to win. There’s about an 81% chance that a Player receives NO return on their Aces Up wager in any way.
Even a mid-level payout on this table, the Flush, only has a 4% chance of occurring.
As such, while the potential payout is relatively high, it’s unlikely to occur. Over the course of a hundred games, the House is going to take 3.9% more money than you will be able to take. This is because the overall house edge for the Aces Up is 3.9%.
The Sixth-Card Bonus Paytable
Remember, Players form a 4-card hand against the Dealer, and a 5-card hand against this bonus paytable.
The Royal Flush and Full-House are not normally possible in 4-card Poker. In order to qualify for the Six-card Bonus, Players must at least have a three-of-a-kind or better.
The Six Card bonus has even worse odds than the Aces up. The Six Card Bonus has a house edge of 15%, which is atrociously bad. This means over a large number of games, you will lose 15% more money than you will win.
Further, the main selling point of the six-card bonus, the Royal Flush, has a 0.00009% chance of success. Even though you might win 1000x your wager, it is practically never going to happen.
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4 Card Poker Example Hand
Imagine the following are the five cards dealt to you after you made your Ante wager, with an Aces up wager as well:
Q♥ 9♥ K♦ 4♥ 4♦
This is a hand with a possible pair of 4s, with a Queen King kicker.
Although this hand would fail to meet the requirement for the Aces Up bonus, a pair of 4s with a King for the kicker is actually quite strong, as players win ties.
This means that the Dealer would have to have a pair of 5s, or a pair of 4s with an Ace, as players win ties. Although 4 is on the lower end of pairs to have, players only need to showdown against the Dealer.
You are more likely to beat a single person with a pair of 4s than you are to beat a whole table. As such, playing with this hand, and wagering 1x the Ante, is the best course of action.
If you are able to win, then you will recoup the losses from your faulty Aces Up wager. If you lose, you only lose the value of one additional Ante.
Strategy and Tips
Fold if Necessary
Four Card Poker is a game of patience more than anything else. Playing on hands or constantly paying into the bonuses is just a surefire way to lose money more quickly.
This, in turn, allows you to be dealt into fewer games than had you held onto your money more carefully.
Folding will allow you to save some of your money on a bad hand, and wait it out until you are hopefully dealt a strong hand that can be used to 3x on your Play wager
Timing the Bonus Bets
The bonuses, as explained above, have pretty bad odds of success. However, it’s impossible to know when you will hit on a high meld that could be paid out for the bonuses.
As such, when you are nearing the end of your time at the table, such as when you are down to your last 25% of chips, that is a good time to start paying into the bonuses.
You are soon to lose the war of attrition anyway if you are already so low on chips. The best option is to gamble with high risk, and high reward.
If you lose, you lose in 3 games what you would have lost in 5. If you win, you could make enough money to recoup all your losses and even make a profit.