Discount Gambling

Advanced Blind Strategy for 6 Card Poker

Posted in six card poker by stephenhow on July 29, 2022

I’ve been playing a lot of Six-Card Poker at my local casinos, as it’s pretty relaxing to play the Ante bet and the Aces Up bonus. Occasionally, I’ll play the 2-Way Bad Beat bonus, depending on my mood, and the people at the table. But generally, its 10.8% house edge takes all the fun out of that side bet.

On the other hand, I don’t mind giving up a little house edge in order to play some hands blind, especially when the dealer’s three upcards look harmless. It’s pretty funny, given that most people spend a lot of time squeezing their hands, looking for enough to call the dealer. Instead, I realized that for certain weak dealer upcards, it only costs about 5% of reduced EV to call the hand blind. This may sound like a lot, given that I won’t play the Bad Beat bonus because of it’s 10.8% house edge. But overall, I only call about 22% of the hands blind, which total to a 1.0% penalty per hand relative to perfect strategy. It’s worth all the fun, the lulz, and the effort saved.

The table below breaks down the blind call strategy for the given hierarchy of dealer upcard types, prioritized in top-down order. Note that each row of the table pulls all the remaining hands encompassed by the description type, and the rest fall down through the conditions below. I suggest playing blind for only the bottom two rows of the table, which add up to 22% of all hands dealt, with total a per-hand cost of 1.0% of the Ante. I only play blind against J-high or lower, not paired, not all suited, that don’t reach to a straight. You can play more hands, but at the costs listed in the table. (Note the cost of playing all hands blind adds up to about 18% of the Ante.)

Dealer Upcard TypeFrequencyBlind Call
Total Cost
Three-of-a-Kind, else0.0023-94.2%-0.0022
any pair, else0.1695-55.8%-0.0946
any Ace, else0.1910-19.3%-0.0369
any King, else0.1591-11.7%-0.0186
any Queen, else0.1304-6.7%-0.0087
all three suited, else0.0218-8.3%-0.0018
no-gap (e.g., 4-5-6), else0.0161-8.4%-0.0013
one-gap (e.g., 4-5-7), else0.0435-6.6%-0.0029
two-gap (e.g., 4-6-8, or 4-5-8), else0.0490-5.6%-0.0027
other two suited, else0.1304-4.8%-0.0063
all other (rainbow)0.0869-4.6%-0.0040
Blind Play Stats for Top-Down Classification of Dealer Upcards

For the 22% of hands I play blind, most would have been played by basic strategy anyways. Only 18% of these blind calls would have been folds. Generally, it adds a bit of excitement to see your hand after the dealer’s, and usually, you don’t end up regretting the blind call. I don’t care about the cost, I play these hands blind. It usually makes for a fun table. Other people start playing blind too.

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Six Card Poker Bad Beat Bonus

Posted in six card poker by stephenhow on June 25, 2013

sixcardI end up playing a lot of this game at my local Viejas Casino, mostly because it’s a really cheap game if you stick to the just Ante bet (~1.5% house edge). Of course, everyone else plays the Aces Up and Two-Way Bad Beat Bonuses, and you pretty much get ostracised from the table for not betting them. The other players just shake their head at you, and g-d forbid you should lose with a bad beat without betting the bonus. I don’t know where else you’ll ever experience such negative communal disapproval. It’s about as bad when you hit your 12-15 against a dealer 6 upcard in Spanish 21 (you should). On 3rd base. Every hand.

Anyway, everyone just loves the Two-Way Bad Beat Bonus. They don’t care what the house edge is. That’s why they’re there. They just want to hit a 35:1 or higher payout. And it happens frequently enough, especially when you play it every day. It’s the crack cocaine of bonus bets.

I saw the WOO’s numbers for the Two-Way Bad Beat were a little different than mine, but they’re pretty close. The 11.1% house edge is more than I’m usually willing to pay. I’ll bet it once or twice an hour, and consider it an occasional treat. But, unless I made a mistake, it’s not impossible for your straight flush to get beat (1 in 100 million). So you’re telling me there’s a chance …

Six Card Poker Two-Way Bad Beat Bonus
Beat Hand Combinations Probability Payout
Straight Flush 1,967,920 1.0320E-08 10,000 0.000103
Four-of-a-Kind 150,323,712 7.8830E-07 5,000 0.003941
Full House 18,331,506,888 9.6130E-05 500 0.048065
Flush 57,651,601,832 3.0232E-04 200 0.060465
Straight 185,942,016,336 9.7508E-04 100 0.097508
Three-of-a-Kind 776,263,604,160 4.0707E-03 35 0.142475
Two Pairs 6,590,304,418,608 3.4559E-02 10 0.345595
Pair Aces 2,871,866,305,368 1.5060E-02 9 0.135540
Others 180,194,060,203,056 9.4494E-01 -1 -0.944935
Total 190,694,571,947,880 100% -0.111243

Improved Six-Card Poker Collusion Strategy (+EV)

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

I’ve been playing a lot of Six Card Poker at my local Viejas Casino, which gave me the chance to think about a better collusion strategy. When I first posted about this game, I was disappointed that the theoretical limit for collusion would yield only around +1.2% on the Ante bet. So I didn’t try too hard to make a good collusion strategy.

But it’s a pretty fun game, since the dealer shows half his hand, and with a full table, you’ll know 39 of the 52 cards. You can get the rules of the game from the WoOs.

After thinking it through, I boiled down the 6-way collusion strategy to the following three rules:

  • fold any hand already beat by dealer
  • fold any qualifying hand when there are 4 or more remaining single-card outs that beat you
  • fold any non-qualifying hand when a kicker out remains that beats you, or there are 3 or more remaining pair outs for the dealer

This collusion strategy simulates at +0.43%, which isn’t bad. It’s pretty easy to count remaining dealer outs among the confederates. People just have to chime-in on how many copies of the dealer cards they have. The strategy is extremely simple, and the variance is pretty low given the 1x call, and the help in folding -EV hands.

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.