Discount Gambling

Chase The Flush Easy Advanced Strategy

Posted in chase the flush by stephenhow on March 8, 2023

AGS’s Hold’Em-style flush game has recently arrived at my local Viejas Casino, and now it’s all I play anymore. It’s fun and relaxing to just play symbols and colors, and there’s a lot more different outcomes than in simple Ultimate Texas Hold’Em. Structurally, it’s similar, where the player paces equal Ante and X-Tra wagers (similar to UTH’s Ante = Blind) before the hand begins. The players and dealer then each receive three hole cards, which is more interesting than UTH’s two hole cards, because of the increased ways to make a hand.

I did the analysis for AGS back in 2017 when they developed the game, and I’ve previously posted all the details about the house edge and the original bonus. I included a basic strategy for the game in that original post, but now that I’ve played it at length, I think I can present a much more concise description of a nearly optimal strategy.

To summarize the rules, the player posts an equal Ante and X-Tra bonus bet before the hand begins. Each player and the dealer each receive three hole cards. There are four community cards, exposed via a 2-card flop, then a 2-card turn/river. The player may go all-in with a 3x Play bet pre-flop, or with a 2x bet after the flop, or with a 1x bet after the turn/river. Otherwise the player folds and loses his Ante and X-Tra bets. The dealer qualifies with a 3-card Nine-high or better hand, otherwise the Ante pushes. The Play bet always receives even-money action, and the X-Tra bonus pays odds when the player beats the dealer with a 4-card flush or better. The only hand for the main game are flushes (i.e., not straight flushes, or any other rank) rated by the number of cards of the same suit in a hand, followed by their descending card ranks.

Fortunately, the near-optimal strategy works out to be very straight-forward, and plays fairly automatically. You know what to look for in advance of each step, and how to react to what cards hit the board. Basically, you preflop raise (3x) strong starting hands, generally 2x/1x bet a 3-card flush (except for a few exceptions), and occasionally 1x call a two-card flush against a rainbow board. The exceptions are few and very specific, and will make sense to you as soon as you encounter them.

Improved and Intuitive Strategy

Preflop, you should 3x the following strong hands:

  • any three suited cards
  • any suited Ace
  • any suited King with sufficiently high offsuit kicker (KQs.3+, KJs.4+, KTs.5+, K9s.5+, K8s.6+, , K7s.7+, K6s.7+, K5s.7+, K4s.7+, K3s.8+, K2s.8+)
  • suited Queens w/ high offsuit kickers: QJs.J+, QTs.J+, Q9s.J+, QXs.Q+
  • suited Jack with King+ offsuit kicker
  • suited Ten with Ace offsuit kicker
  • rainbow AA.4+, KK.J+, AK.7+, AQ.T+

After the flop, you should 2x bet any 3-card flush or better, except when:

  • check a 3-card flush using suited flop and a hole card LESS THAN 6 (BUT 2x bet if you ALSO have a 2-card flush with higher ranks than your 3-card flush)
  • check a NON-QUALIFYING 3-card flush using the LOWER board card of an offsuit flop (BUT 2x bet when you ALSO have a 2-card flush using the higher board card)

You can 2x bet two 2-card flushes on the flop in the following cases:

  • 2x bet a 2-card NUT FLUSH (you hold the Ace or King) using one board card, and you have ANY OTHER 2-CARD FLUSH using the other board card, or that’s higher than the other board card
  • 2x bet two 2-card flushes using both suits on board when your hole cards are BOTH PICTURES

On the river, you’ll bet a 3-card flush that doesn’t fall into the following weak cases:

  • Against a double-suited board (2 suits with 2 cards each), fold any flush with 15 or fewer one-card beats (1x call any flush in the “high” suit, but fold a 3-card flush in the “low” when holding a Ten or lower)
  • Against a once-suited board (2 of a suit you don’t have, 1 of your flush suit, and a 3rd suit), fold a non-qualifying 3-card flush less than the suited board cards, and fold a 3-card flush lower than the 2 suited cards on board and lower than the 3rd suit, else 1x call
  • Don’t “play the board” when the 3-card flush on board is lower than the offsuit card on board (otherwise 1x “play the board” in all other cases, even when it’s a low, non-qualifying 3-card flush)

And finally, you should 1x play a two-card Ace-, King-, or even Queen- against a rainbow board when there are less than 10 single-card outs that beat your hand. Sometimes you’ll be able to play an EIGHT in your hand when it’s the same suit as the only Ace on board.

Why It’s Fun

You may have noticed that UTH has become very crowded these days, and everyone knows the game well enough to take all the fun out of it. The games are usually expensive, with minimums at $10-$15-$25 Antes, because of its popularity. And I don’t have to tell you how bad that game can run, especially when the boards miss your 4x raising hands.

Chase The Flush is kind a return to the days when Ultimate was new, and nobody knew how to play. It’s kind of fun to see people learning a new game, trying out new strategies. UTH has become a bit boring, and less communal. People selfishly call out for their specific card(s) to hit the board, which would probably hurt you. In Chase The Flush, multiple people make various hands out of all kinds of boards. This is probably due to the fact that players hold three hole cards instead of two.

Also interesting is that the 7-card flush (pays 250:1 on both the X-Tra and the Same Suit Bonus) and the 6-card flush (pays 20:1 on the X-Tra, and 50:1 on the Same Suit Bonus) hit much more frequently than their Royal and Straight Flush counterparts on UTH. It’s perceptible. Also the Same Suit Bonus hits about 25% of the time, but at my local casino (Viejas), they’ve lowered the payouts a bit, and the house edge is substantially higher than the typical UTH Trips side bet.

At my local casino, they always seem to have a $5 minimum table, and sometimes it’s not very full, and you can enjoy having some more personal space than at a packed UTH table. Also, because of the 3x (instead of 4x) preflop raise, the game tends to feel like it’s less volatile (until you hit a nice 6-card flush or better, which generally happens every session).

How to Play Quickly

Once you’ve played a bit and understand the strategy, you’ll probably come up with some kind of similar ways of remembering your hand so you don’t have to constantly look at them to decide what to do. Normally, when I 3x raise, I just tuck the cards and forget what I have, and wait for showdown. Otherwise, if I have “rainbow” cards, I just remember the one suit I don’t have. Then, I’ll know if I flop a 3-card flush, or flop two 2-card flushes. If one of the suits I don’t have hits the flop, then chances are I’ll fold if any more hit the turn or river.

If my hole cards are two of one suit, and one of another suit, I’ll mentally note something like “spades, heart”. That way, if both hit the flop, I’ll automatically bet, and otherwise I’ll know if I flop a 3-card flush that I might bet. Similarly, remembering “spades, heart”, I’ll know if I have a 3-card flush or better or not on the river.

Same Suit Bonus (w/ 3-Card Straight Flush Payout)

Outcome Combinations Frequency Payout Return
6-or-7 Card Straight Flush 1,624 0.000012 500 0.006069
5 Card Straight Flush 39,312 0.000294 100 0.029385
4 Card Straight Flush 636,272 0.004756 20 0.095119
7 Card Flush 6,664 0.000050 250 0.012415
6 Card Flush 256,620 0.001918 50 0.095908
5 Card Flush 3,550,872 0.026542 5 0.132709
3 Card Straight Flush 6,736,184 0.050351 3 0.151053
4 Card Flush 22,152,936 0.165587 1 0.165587
Nothing 100,404,096 0.750491 -1 -0.750491
Total 133,784,560  1.000000   -0.062246