Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

# Mississippi Stud strategy

10 January 2012

Any card game that requires decisions by players has its dividing lines. When the dealer has a 10 in blackjack, you hit when you have a hard total of 16 or less, but stand on 17 or higher. In Caribbean Stud poker, you stay in the game with a bet of double your ante when you have ace-king with no other face cards if one of your other three cards matches the dealer's face-up card. If no such match, you fold.

In Mississippi Stud poker, the dividing lines come when deciding whether to raise your bets or fold. There's no dealer hand to beat. You're just hoping for a hand that makes it onto a pay table that starts at a pair of sixes.

After you've seen two cards, you must decide whether to make an additional bet of 1 to 3 times your ante, or fold. You face the same decision after seeing a third card, and after a fourth.

You can find a full strategy at Michael Shackelford's website, wizardofodds.com, but for right now let's tackle a small problem posed in an e-mail from a reader named Al.

"The Mississippi Stud strategy says that after the first two cards, you should raise three times your bet with any pair and one times your bet when you have at least one high card, two middle cards or 6-5 suited. What does that mean, exactly? What's a high card, and what's a middle card?"

The dividing lines correspond to the Mississippi Stud pay table. Pairs of 5s or less bring no payoff, and those are the low cards. Pairs of 6s-10s are pushes, and those are the middle cards. Pairs of jacks or better bring even-money payoffs, and those are the high cards.

So with J-5, you'd raise your bet, but with 10-5 you'd fold. With a 7 and a 9 — two middle cards — you'd raise, but with a middle and low such as 5-7, you'd fold. You'll keep the middle-low hand 6-5 if both cards are in the same suit, but not if they're in different suits.

There are different dividing lines after you've seen the third card, and again after the fourth.

After you've seen a third card, you want to make your bet of 3x your ante if you have a paying hand of a pair of 6s or better. You'll also make that 3x raise with three cards to a royal; three cards to a straight flush, 5-6-7 or higher and no gaps; three cards to a straight flush with one gap if you have at least one high card, and with two gaps with at least two high cards.

Raise an amount equal to your bet with three parts of flush; a low pair; two or three high cards; three middle cards; one high card and one middle card; or three parts of a straight, 4-5-6 or higher, with no gaps.

After four cards, raise 3x with any winning hand; four parts of a flush, or four parts on outside straight, 8 high or better. Raise 1x with any other straight draw; a low pair; at least two high cards; on a high card accompanied by two or three middle cards; one high card and two previous 3x raises; or three middle cards and at least one previous 3x raise.

There are dividing lines galore. For one, after three cards, you'll raise with a suited 5-6-7, but not 4-5-6. After four cards, you'll raise with 5-6-7-8 of the same suit, but not 4-5-6-7.

Some of the dividing lines are a little less straightforward. Take the strategy point that would have you raise an amount equal to your bet if you have three middle cards and at least one previous 3x raise. Say you're dealt 6-7 of diamonds. That's worth a 3x raise after two cards. Next, you get a 9 of clubs. That's three middle cards, and worth a 1x raise. Then on the fourth card, you get a 2 of spades. Now you have three middle cards, and since you have a previous 3x raise, you stay in the game because you've made a previous 3x raise, too much just to forfeit on a borderline hand.

But what if you had the same cards in a different order? If your first two had been the 6 of diamonds and 9 of clubs, you'd have made only a 1x raise. The 7 of diamonds on the third card would keep you in the game with a 1x raise for three middle cards. But that 2 of spades on the final hand would lead you to fold. Even though your cards are the same, with no 3x raise already on the table, it's not worth investing another 1x raise.

It's a fine line, but if you want the most out of Mississippi Stud, those dividing lines are your guide.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.