Discount Gambling

+EV Mississippi Stud: Why The House Doesn’t Worry

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on February 12, 2011

Lately, I’ve been playing more full exposure Mississippi Stud at my local Barona Casino. I’ve called it “the least enjoyable +EV game” around, because of it’s high variance. Generally, it’s an “expensive game”, played by an older crowd that can afford it. Even though the full exposure game is +EV (around +1.5% of the Ante) using a simple strategy, the game is only full (exploitable) on weekends. The way I think, people should be all over this game, keeping it full, betting $25 Antes, and grinding out $0.37/hand. But the game is usually empty for good reasons: it would take months of full-time grinding and a huge bankroll to take advantage of it. And you’d need a full team of 6 players.

Even when the game is full, the house’s hold (EV) is huge. Because there is no way on earth that people are going to play correctly, no matter what. I play with my cheat sheet, which tells me the approximate return of hands on 3rd and 4th street, and their exact returns on 5th street. Other players wouldn’t be caught dead following this advice, because it tells them to fold more than they like to (and occasionally, it tells them to raise more than they like to). Most players don’t like folding their hands, especially at 2nd street (first two cards), and at the river. They acknowledge that they shouldn’t “chase”, but they don’t know how bad (-EV) it is, and they get caught up in it.

The cheat sheet points out the cost of each mistake, and even the smallest mistake is usually in double digit territory. For example, if you’re on 2nd street, and you have only 1 high out and 2 mid outs, you’re giving up about a 31% house edge (of the Ante) to 1x call and see 3rd street. The return of this call is -1.31 Antes. Folding would be a better choice, costing only 1 Ante (-1.0 return). Calling will return -1.31 on average, or an additional 0.31 Ante loss to see a card. At a $5 Ante, this is an additional $1.55 cost over folding.

When you “chase” a hand, you often pick up just enough outs to “force” you to call again. In our 1/2/0 (high/mid/low outs) example, we called to see 3rd street, making our hand worth -1.31. If we pick up 2 more high outs on 3rd street, we now have a 3/2/0 hand, and we should 1x call again to see 4th street, since folding has a value of -2.0, while calling has a value of -1.75. Notice that we now have a hand that is 0.75 Antes worse than folding on 2nd street (-1.0 Antes), and we’re forced into investing 3 Antes. Chasing could get worse. If we pick up another 2 mid outs on 4th street, we’re again forced into another 1x call, to “protect” our 3/4/0 hand and 3 Ante investment to extract out its -2.94 Ante value (would be -3.0 to fold on 5th street). So that’s how a 31% mistake escalates to a -300% cost. Of course, if we paired up our hand, we could win big. That’s why it’s only a 31% mistake on average.

“Chasing” is horrible, because you should just fold and wait for the next hand, instead of forking out -EV to the house. If you don’t hit, EV just gets worse. Often at the table I hear, “I always see the first card”, meaning they’ll play any two cards to 3rd street. I simulated this “call anything” 3rd street strategy combined with perfect strategy on 4th and 5th street, and the result was a 13.5% house edge. Notice that’s worse than having no other information and playing basic strategy (4.91% house edge). It’s no wonder that most people lose a tremendous amount of money at the game. It’s hard to say, but I’d guess the average player is giving up about a 20% (of an Ante) edge to the house. At a $5 Ante, that’s $1 a hand.

Of course, that $1/hand cost might be the marginal utility of “not folding” + “getting lucky” + “playing hunches” – “bleeding off” to that player. I’m kind of the exception. To me, giving up a 5% edge to the house on a mistaken call feels a lot worse than its $0.25 average cost πŸ™‚

20 Responses

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  1. Tom Mc said, on February 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Your right about the age of the players. I see the younger players play a few hands and leave.
    When they see ALL you need is a pair of sixes or better they think it’s a shoe in.
    Funny thing. I have won most of my money when I am the lone player at the table.
    It does not compute but it seems that’s the way it is.
    At least I know all my outs are still in the deck. lol

  2. JB said, on February 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Is is possible for you to have a practice game for Mississippi Stud? I’m interested in playing, but I’m not sure I really understand the basics.

    • stephenhow said, on February 13, 2011 at 12:30 am

      Yes, there’s already a practice game with all hands shown, and the correct collusion strategy described. You can hit the “auto” button to instantly play 1000 hands using the correct strategy.

  3. vgMega said, on February 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Guilty as charged for being a chaser. I just happened to luck out on most of my chases last night into pushes, but that is definitely not normal. I may try one more time tonight, not sure yet, but really need to step back and think if going for that straight draw is a good idea. it does suck when folding a 2 10 with all 10s out, and end up seeing trips.

  4. Tom Mc said, on February 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I’llbe at Harrahs Rincon 2/14

  5. Tom Mc said, on March 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Went to Harrah’s Friday.
    Played for 12 hours. They raised the table limit to $10 at 7:30 PM.

    Although I was playing a lot of $10 antes earlier it made me mad when they raised it after playing all day.
    Had a few good hands but no quads on the table all day.
    Got my wife off slots and on the table now.

    Getting so you have to get there when the table opens or get on a waiting list now.

  6. vgMega said, on April 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Been a while since I posted…I have had my butt handed to me on this game lately @ Barona. Just have not hit hands in a long time. I may join you guys up north soon at Harrahs, a few friends of mine have been hired there to deal. I myself got hired at Pala and should be working there in the next few weeks. Hope to see you guys soon, and get some good hands in for me

  7. stephenhow said, on April 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Congrats on your new job vg! I’ll visit you when you get settled in there. I heard they’re going to audition a bunch of dealers for 7 positions at Viejas, but you might have to know how to deal craps. I stopped by Barona Tuesday night, won $32.50 at blackjack in 5 hands, then went home. Still no UTH in the iTable pit yet. Saw some of the regulars at Mississippi Stud, but the table wasn’t full. All the dealers at Viejas say Mississippi Stud is coming in the next few weeks. Who knows, maybe we can make that game full exposure too.

    • vgMega said, on April 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Yeah, I did hear about Viejas at my school.IDK if craps is a necessity though. I will prob stay at Pala as I was lucky enough to get offered full time from the start. I haven’t been to viejas in a long while, so if they get Stud I’ll have to make a visit. They seem pretty relaxed on UTH, but we’ll see

  8. vgMega said, on April 15, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Any action going on @ Barona tonight? Considering going for a little stud

  9. vgMega said, on April 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    YAY! Hit my first quads tonight!! Steve, you should have been there! Made the dealers 400 since I bet for them at the beginning of the hand. Almost started with 15 on top too. Still happy though πŸ™‚

    • stephenhow said, on April 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

      Very nice! What was your Ante? Did you bet 3x on all streets?

      • vgMega said, on April 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

        Had 5 ante with pocket pair, so 3x all the way, plus 1 on top for the dealer, 3x’ed to 10 total.

  10. Tom Mc said, on April 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Harrah’s Rincon yesterday.

    Wife played 12 hours and ended up $10 winner. lol
    At 1930 they raised the table limit to $10. I recouped most of my losses in a few hands.
    Still lost.
    It’s getting harder to get a seat at the table now. Same (OLD FOLKS) including me all the time. Waiting list is becoming common.
    ALMOST got the royal . A J 10 on board Q in my hand King in the hand next to me.
    One more little change in the shuffle.
    Maybe next time.

    Good luck on the tables.


    • vgMega said, on April 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      At Barona I missed it by a Jack of Clubs. Had the A/10, Q and K came up. No clubs out, no high cards out, every possible out was available, and I hit the 5 of spades. Had 10 on top, 2x 2x and 3x on the river, plus the progressive would have paid 156K. Sooner or later I’ll hit it…

  11. vgMega said, on March 17, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Saw a guy win with 4 of a kind Jacks tonight. 15 on top, hand was J,3 called 15, J came and bet 45 45. 3 in the progressive. What a lucky guy πŸ™‚

    • stephenhow said, on March 17, 2012 at 5:44 am

      Wow. That could have been me, if I didn’t get barred 😦

  12. vgMega said, on March 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Do you still play somewhere or are you taking a break?

    • stephenhow said, on March 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

      I’m taking a break for a while. At some point, I’ll go play a little double-baccarat (it’s like Pai-Gow tiles) at Sycuan. But for the most part, I’m doing other things now. I only need small gambling fixes every now and then.

      • vgMega said, on March 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

        I meant to tell you about double bac. After reading your tutorial it hit me that thats what double bac was haha. BTW Stud is getting popular at Pala. Still no straight up sharing but its getting good. Let me know when you head out and I’ll join you some time.

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