Discount Gambling

Six Card Poker @ Venetian, Las Vegas

Posted in +EV, collusion, six card poker by stephenhow on May 11, 2012

On my trip to Vegas last month, I saw this new game at the Venetian, and all I could think of was collusion. I figured it had to be beatable, since the dealer shows half his hand (3 upcards), which should exploitable given confederate card information. Well, I finally got around to looking at it, and of course, its not as exploitable as I hoped.

The game is pretty simple, where both dealer and player get 6 cards to make a 5-card poker hand. There’s only an Ante, and a 1x Play bet. The dealer shows 3 upcards, and you decide to either 1x Play or fold your hand. If the dealer doesn’t qualify with Ace-King, then the Ante pushes regardless of the player hand. The 1x Play bet always receives even-money action against the dealer hand. The Wizard of Odds provides a basic strategy, and lists the house edge at 1.27%.

I figured 6-player collusion would help you know when to play Ace-high, and maybe help you fold a pair when a lot of dealer outs remain that beat you. But first, I simulated a bunch of hands finding the optimal decision given confederate card info. This gave me a very close approximation to the ideal edge obtained by perfect collusion. This 6-player edge amounted to only +1.17%. This isn’t much, especially since any actual collusion strategy approaching this limit would be impractically complex.

At this point, I only made a half-hearted attempt at finding a practical collusion strategy. There’s so many cards involved, its difficult to come up with a workable signalling system. Also, I looked over the collusion decision points, and it wasn’t simple to identify the conditions for making a counter decision to basic strategy. For what it’s worth, I came up with the following “simple” 6-player collusion strategy that simulates at +0.15%:

  • Call two pairs or better, else
  • Call one pair unless there are 7 or more dealer one-card outs remaining that beat you, else
  • Call Ace-high when 2 or more Aces and Kings seen with 9 upcard copies, else
  • Call Ace-high with 4 or more Aces and Kings seen with 8 upcard copies, else
  • Call Ace-high with 6 or more Aces and Kings seen with 7 upcard copies,
  • else fold

Update: I worked out an improved 6-way collusion strategy that yields a +0.43% return with only a couple simple rules.

6 Responses

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  1. JohnDeMarco said, on May 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Just curious, what kind of poker hand evaluator do you use for stuff like this? I’ve experimented with a few with varying success. Here’s a link to an interesting article.

    • stephenhow said, on May 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      I write all my own C++ code. That’s half the fun of it all.

  2. jet said, on June 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Hey U got a better idea, instead of determining what is the optimal strategy for collusion, why not try to determine if seeing one additional dealers hole card (seeing 4 instead of 3) is enough to beat this game. Probably much beter then using 24-30 of the “other” players cards into account. Just curious what the edge is?

    • stephenhow said, on June 2, 2012 at 12:16 am

      You’re right. I wrote up a hole-carding strategy for a reader of this blog that returns over 5% with perfect knowledge of one of the dealer hole cards.

      • jet said, on July 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm

        Is the strategy too cumbersome? If it isn’t I would like to see it (send it to my email). I am surprised that even one additional card would yield such a large improvement, given that similar info on 4cp improves the game by roughly 2% to a still negative EV game (about -0.35%).

        Also, I am assuming that you used some Monte Carlo method to derive this edge. A combinatoric c++ program would have to cycle through COMBIN(52,6)*COMBIN(46,4)*COMBIN(42,2) = 2860418579218200 combinations which would take a ridiculous amount of time (on the order of a few years)

  3. Grumpy said, on June 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Viejas casino recently introduced 6 card poker. I just wanted to let people know that not all the dealers are familiar with the rules. The dealers are supposed to show three cards before the player has to make a decision to play or not. Samar was not showing any of the cards, she seemed confused by the whole game. I am sure Shawn and the Shuffle Master representives must have explained the proper way to deal the game to the dealers, apparently Samar did not take it upon herself to know the rules, it is not brain surgery. She is in charge of a lot of money, and I am surprised that Viejas, and Shuffle Master would want someone who has no clue about the game represent them. There also seems to be some confusion by some dealers that one of the side bets is a two way bad beat, that is the player can beat the dealers hand and still qualify. If the player has a flush, and the dealer has a straight, the player should when the two way bad beat side bet 100 to 1, Sameed apparently does not know this. This is not a slam on Viejas, or Shuffle Master, just a heads up on the person who wants to play this game to be aware.

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