Hitting a Cut Fastball



            After several weeks of writing about video poker, I need to take a breather and write about a good old fashioned table game.  In trying to decide which one to write about, my mind wandered over to a comment recently written on Amazon about my booklet Expert Strategy for Mississippi Stud.  Quite frankly, the person who bought the book panned it.  It wasn't so much that he didn't like the book, but he felt that all of the information in the book could be found on the internet for free and that all I did was compile information found on multiple website and added nothing to the mix.


            When I first read that review, I laughed pretty hard.  I didn't just write a booklet on a game that was in the casinos, I wrote the math analysis that was used to get it approved in every jurisdiction in the world.  The game was invented by Mark Yoseloff, then the CEO of Shuffle Master (now Bally Technologies).  Roger Snow, then the Director of table games for Shuffle Master  called me about the game and we began the process of determining the feasibility of the game mathematically.  We went through countless paytables and several betting and payout structures.  The final result was a game that had ONE table for its first few years.  Then, little by little, the number of tables began to grow.  Now, it is one of the powerhouses in the casino, numbering well over 100 tables and still growing.


            What made me chuckle the most about the review was that he specifically cited one website where you can find all the information you want about Mississippi Stud.  Like most websites, the information is totally free.  There isn't much I can do about that.  It is the nature of technology in the 21st century.   But, the real irony is that if you go to that website and read the  page on Mississippi Stud and scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll find that the author thanked Shuffle Master for providing a copy of my report as it assisted him in his analysis!


            There is a vast difference between analyzing a game that is being developed and analyzing a game that is already in the casino.  A game that is already live is much easier to analyze.  You simply need to create an analysis  that utilizes the rules and the paytable that is presented.  When you are working on a game in development, these are changing rapidly.  You may find that a paytable provide too big of a house advantage or a negative one.  Even if the payback is right, the win frequency or the fold rate might be all wrong.  You're essentially analyzing a moving target.  It is kind of like the difference between hitting a baseball off a tee and trying to hit a Mariano Rivera cut fastball at 90+ miles per hour.  You use a bat and you're trying to hit a ball, but the similarities end there.


            Ironically, a similar comparison can be made between Mississippi Stud and Let It Ride.  The games are relatively similar.  In Let It Ride, you put all your wagers up before you play and can then pull 2 of the 3 back if you want to not bet them.  This is really no different than simply allowing the Player to check or bet at that point.  In Mississippi Stud, there is no checking.  You either Play or your Fold.  The advantage given to the Player in Mississippi Stud is that you can bet up to 3x your Ante after each card.  If you have a sure winner (Pair of 6's and up), you can really kick the house's butt by potentially getting 10 units out on the table. 


            To begin play, the Player makes an Ante wager and is dealt 2 cards.  Three additional cards are placed in the middle of the table FACE DOWN.  These are the community cards.  At this point, the Player may Fold, Bet 1x or Bet 3x.  The first community card is turned up and again the Player may Fold, Bet 1x or Bet 3x.  This repeats with the 2nd community card.  The Dealer turns over the 3rd community card and resolves the hands.  The Player will win with a Pair of 6's or better.  The paytable odds will be paid on ALL WAGERS.  So, if you have a Straight, which pays 4 to 1, you will be paid on ALL your wagers.  You have to have at least 4 units out there if you didn't fold and you might have as many as 10 units.  So, one big hand can dig you out of a deep hole.  Is it any wonder why I like to call Mississippi Stud - Let It Ride on speed!


            The strategy for Mississippi Stud is a bit more complex than that for Let It Ride.  First of all, you have an additional wager.  Second, you need to think about 3 options, not just 2.  You need to decide when to Fold, when to bet 1x and when to bet 3x.  The easiest of the strategies is for 2-card hands.  If you have a Pair Bet 3X.  If you have at least 1 High Card or 2 Medium Cards (Medium cards are 6-10, High Cards are Jack and better), then Bet 1x.  Fold all other hands.  You will Fold at this point just a little under 1/3 of your hands.


            For the rest of the strategy, you can either go searching for it on the internet or you can simply buy the Expert Strategy for Mississippi Stud booklet.  The normal retail is $5.95, but for my blog readers, I'll make it available for $4.95.  Send a check or money order to Gambatria, P.O. Box 36474, Las Vegas, NV 89133.  If you do order it, please do me a favor and go up to Amazon and write a more accurate review than the one that is there!