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 🙂

Session Outcome Distribution for +EV Mississippi Stud

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on January 21, 2011

I wanted to know what my session outcome probabilities were for the +EV Mississippi Stud game @Barona, where all the 6 player’s card are exposed. I calculated the distribution below, assuming a 200 Ante bankroll, and playing for exactly 100 minimum bet hands with the collusion strategy. If you use a different strategy, or hit-and-run, then your probabilities will differ.

Updates to +EV Mississippi Stud @ Barona Casino

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on January 21, 2011

I revisited the collusion strategy for full-table (6 players), all cards exposed Mississippi Stud, as dealt at my nearby Barona Casino. I fixed a few small decision points, and calculated the EVs of the threshold points, so you can see the value of marginal calls and folds. When I play again, I’ll probably bring this chart to the table. Notice any return less than -1.0 on 3rd street is a fold (folding costs you your ante, but calling would cost more). Similarly, any return less than -2.0 on 4th street is a fold. And any return less than -3.0 on the river is a fold. For example, calling 1x on 5th street with only 2 high outs and 4 mid outs is going to cost you (-3.16)($5) = $15.80, whereas folding would limit your loss to $15. On average, this “chase” is going to cost you $0.80 more than folding. As another example, calling unsuited cards with only 2 high outs and 1 mid out on 3rd street is going to cost you (0.07)($5) = $0.35 more than folding, on average.

There are a lot of players that play way too many hands, as they don’t want to miss a payout. You can see that even the most marginal of folds is around (0.1)($5) = $0.50 for each bad decision. This can add up over each hand, and each bad decision (sometimes multiple bad decisions per hand). Often, people make multiple bad decisions per hand, making worse than -0.10 mistakes (literally, off the below chart), and betting more than $5 Antes.

Common Decision Points for 6 Player, Full-Exposure Mississippi Stud
Outs 1x EV Notes
High Mid Low
3rd Street (Offsuit)
3 0 0 -0.77 Call
2 2 -0.79 Call
2 1 -1.07 Fold
2 0 3 -1.05 Fold
1 3 -0.99 Call
1 2 -1.31 Fold
0 5 -0.71 Call
0 4 -1.12 Fold
0 3 3 -0.95 Call
0 0 6 -1.43 Fold
0 0 4 -1.86 Fold
3rd Street (Suited)
2 0 -0.87 Call
1 2 0 -0.96 Call
0 4 -0.75 Call
0 3 3 -0.71 Call
0 3 2 -0.98 Call
0 0 6 -1.20 Fold
0 0 4 -1.59 Fold
4th Street
3 2 -1.75 Call
3 1 -1.96 Call
3 0 5 -1.94 Call
3 0 4 -2.02 Fold
3 A’s 0 4 -1.86 Call
2 4 -1.77 Call
2 3 -1.93 Call
2 2 3 -2.10 Fold
2 1 4 -2.14 Fold
1 5 -1.95 Call
1 4 -2.13 Fold
0 6 -1.87 Call
0 5 3 -2.09 Fold
5th Street
5 -2.68 Call
4 2 -2.95 Call
4 1 -3.05 Fold
4 0 -3.16 Fold
3 4 -2.94 Call
2 6 -2.95 Call
2 5 -3.05 Fold
2 4 -3.16 Fold
1 8 -2.95 Call
0 9 -3.05 Fold

Mississippi Stud Folding Strategy

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on June 9, 2010

I’ve been playing +EV Mississippi Stud lately at my local Barona Casino, where all player hands are shown. I’ve found the key to playing the +EV strategy quickly is knowing the folding points, and looking ahead a street or two. I remember the folding points by street and high outs, which is pretty easy. I still play with the strategy table in my hand. The stronger your starting hand, the least amount of help (outs) you’ll need from the community cards. This means that you’ll never fold the strongest hands (5 high outs or better), and strong hands (3 or 4 high outs) will typically go to 4th street before you need to make a decision. I’ve made a flow diagram showing this folding decision. It highlights the key folding decision points, arranged by street and high outs.

Folding Strategy for +EV Mississippi Stud.

Folding strategy for Mississippi Stud, all 6 player hands known.

Don’t use this chart at the tables. Just use it to understand the folding points better, and to learn to play faster. Understand that you’ll never fold a hand with 5 high outs. And with 3 high and 2 mid outs, you won’t have to think until 4th Street. Furthermore, you’ll never fold a hand with 3 high and 4 mid outs. However, if your starting hand has less than 3 high and 2 mid outs, you’ll need immediate help on 3th Street. Chances are, you’ll need more help on 4th Street. And you’ll probably need at least 3 high and 4 mid outs to see 5th Street. It’s uncommon when you end up calling with 2 high and 6 mid outs on 5th Street, and very rare to call then with 1 high and 8 mid outs.

Online Mississippi Stud Practice Game (+EV)

Posted in +EV, collusion, mississippi stud by stephenhow on April 10, 2010

After spending a lot of time playing UTH, I found that there’s an acceptable way to share hole card information with the table. While the dealer, floorman, and surveillance might say something if you flash your hole cards (or play them face up), they don’t care if you verbally share info. Furthermore, if you’re discreet about it, or speak another language, and don’t slow down the game, no one will probably even know you’re doing it.

With this in mind, the value of ShuffleMaster’s Mississippi Stud just went up for everyone. While the game is already played face up at my nearby Barona Casino, now everyone can enjoy the +1.5% EV game at a full table of cooperating players. (See my Simplified 6 Player +EV Strategy, and my 4 Player Collusion Strategy.) In the meanwhile, you can practice the game here for free. It suggests the improved strategy as listed in my player reference card. Of course, you can play your hand any way you want to. Also, you can just hit the “Auto” play button to quickly play 1000 hands using the advanced strategy.

Click on the screenshot below to play:

The older Java game. You must have Java 1.6 installed on your computer (check your version).

Mississippi Stud Game Screenshot

Strategy Card For Mississippi Stud @ Barona Casino

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on September 26, 2009

I finally got around to making a nice, colourful strategy card for Mississippi Stud, as it’s played at Barona Casino near San Diego (i.e., where you get to see all the players hands). I’ve been playing with an awful print out of my strategy table, and it would sometimes slow the game down. We won again last night, thanks to a full house on the last hand!

Mississippi Stud Strategy Table

Mississippi Stud strategy table when all 6 hands seen.

Mississippi Stud @ Barona Casino, CA

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on August 16, 2009

My nearby Barona Casino has been spreading the ShuffleMaster game Mississippi Stud face up for some time now. I finally looked at the game, as it’s played there. Here’s a strategy yielding a 1.5% player edge for a full game (6 seated players). Do not use this strategy unless playing at a full table. Otherwise, play basic strategy (4.91% house edge).

“high outs” means the number of cards in the deck that will give you a high pair (Js thru As)
“mid outs” are the number of cards in the deck that will give you a mid pair (6s thru Ts)
“low outs” are the number of cards in the deck that will give you a low pair (2s thru 5s)

2nd Street:

  • 3x raise a high or mid pair
  • 3x raise with 6 high outs, or with 5 high outs and suited
  • 3x raise a small pair with both trips outs still in the deck
  • 1x call with 3 or more high outs
  • 1x call with 2 high outs if suited, OR at least 2 mid outs, OR at all 3 low outs
  • 1x call with 1 high out if suited AND at least 2 mid outs
  • 1x call with at least 5 mid outs, OR suited and 4 mid outs
  • 1x call with all 3 mid outs and all 3 low outs
  • else fold

3rd Street:

  • 3x raise any made hand
  • 3x raise a low pair if no outs seen (no cards of your hand are out)
  • 3x raise if suited and 8 or more high outs
  • 3x raise if suited and 7 or more high outs AND 7 suit outs
  • 3x raise if suited and 6 or more high outs AND 8 suit outs
  • 1x call if suited
  • 1x call if low pair and 2 trip outs
  • 1x call if low pair and 1 trip out and at least 2 other pair outs
  • 1x call if no-gap straight draw > 456
  • 1x call if 1-gap straight draw and at least 5 mid outs
  • 1x call if 2-gap straight draw and at least 6 mid outs
  • 1x call if at least 4 high outs
  • 1x call if 3 high outs AND (at least 2 mid outs, OR 1 mid out and all 3 low outs, OR all 6 low outs, OR wheel draw and 3 low outs)
  • 1x call if 2 high outs AND (at least 4 mid outs, OR all 3 mid outs and 2 low outs)
  • 1x call if 1 high out AND 5 mid outs
  • 1x call if 7 mid outs, OR all 6 mid outs and all 3 low outs
  • else fold

4th Street:

  • 3x raise any made hand
  • 3x raise any flush draw
  • 3x raise 8 straight outs
  • 3x raise 7 straight outs AND (at least 3 high outs, or at least 4 mid outs)
  • 3x raise 6 straight outs AND (at least 4 high outs, or at least 9 mid outs)
  • 3x raise 5 straight outs AND (at least 6 high outs, or at least 12 mid outs)
  • 3x raise 4 straight outs AND at least 8 high outs
  • 3x raise 3 straight outs AND at least 10 high outs
  • 1x call all other straight draws
  • 1x call any low pair
  • 1x call 5 or more high outs
  • 1x call 4 high outs AND at least 2 mid outs
  • 1x call 3 high outs AND at least 4 mid outs
  • 1x call 2 high outs AND at least 6 mid outs
  • 1x call 1 high outs AND at least 9 mid outs
  • 1x call with all 12 mid outs, or at least 6 mid outs and a previous 3x raise
  • else fold