One relatively recent trend in casino games is to create games based on poker. Mississippi Stud is one of these, and it’s a relatively popular one. The big difference between a game like Mississippi Stud and regular poker is who competes for the money.
In a casino game, the casino banks all the action. The players compete with the dealer, and either the dealer wins or the player does. In a real poker game, you’re competing with all the other players in the game. The dealer doesn’t have a stake.
The amount of prize money you get is based on your 5-card hand at the end of play—much like in video poker. Also, as in video poker, you have decisions to make in Mississippi Stud. Instead of deciding which cards to keep and which cards to throw away, as you would in video poker, in Mississippi Stud, you decide how much to raise or fold over the course of the hand.
1- Read the Rules for Mississippi Stud
A hand of Mississippi Stud begins when you make a bet called an “ante.” The betting limits should be clearly displayed on the table by the casino. After you make your ante bet, the dealer gives you and the other players 2 face-down cards. He also deals 3 face-down cards in the center of the table—these are community cards.
You’re allowed to pick up your cards and look at them. Once you’ve looked at your cards, you get to make a bet. This is called the 3rd street bet, and you have the following options:
- You can fold.
- You can raise the size of the ante.
- You can raise twice the size of the ante.
- You can raise 3 times the size of the ante.
Once all the players at the table have complete their 3rd street betting action, the dealer turns one of the community cards over. Guess what happens now? That’s right—there’s another betting round. You have the same options on this betting round, which is called the 4th street bet. The dealer then reveals the next community card, and there’s a 5th street bet for the players, with the same options.
After the dealer turns over the final community card, the players get paid off based on the strength of their final hand, which is comprised of his 2 cards and the 3 community cards. The amount you get paid is based on the rank of your final poker hand. I cover that in the next section.
2- Understand How the Pay Table Works
There was a time when a pay table was something used only by slot machines and then later by video poker games. Now, a lot of poker-based table games use a pay table, too. A pay table is just a list of payouts for various final outcomes in a gambling game.
In the case of Mississippi Stud, the pay table is based on the poker hand value of your final hand. The payouts are as follows:
- A royal flush pays 500 to 1.
- A straight flush pays 100 to 1.
- A 4 of a kind pays 40 to 1.
- A full house pays 10 to 1.
- A flush pays 6 to 1.
- A straight pays 4 to 1.
- A 3 of a kind pays 3 to 1.
- 2 pairs pays 2 to 1.
- A pair of jacks or higher pays even money.
- Any pair of 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, or 10s is treated as a “push.” You keep your bet, but you don’t win anything. A push is the same thing as a tie.
- Any other hand results in the player losing his bet.
Theoretically, a casino could change the payouts for various hands in Mississippi Stud to change the house edge in one direction or the other. The expected value of a bet is based on all the possible outcomes. You multiply the probability of an outcome by the expected gain or loss from that outcome. Add all those together, and you have the expected win or loss for that bet.
I’ll cover the house edge below, too, but keep in mind that the house edge for Mississippi Stud varies based on how well you play. Like blackjack or video poker, Mississippi Stud is a game of skill as well as a game of chance.
3- How the House Edge Works in Mississippi Stud
The house edge in most games is pretty straightforward. It’s just a percentage of each bet that the house expects to win on average over a huge number of bets. For example, if you say that the house edge for a game (roulette, for example) is 5.26%, then the casino expects, mathematically, to win $5.26 every time you place a $100 bet. That’s an average.
But in Mississippi Stud, you’ll find both a house edge figure and an element of risk figure. The house edge is 4.91%, while the element of risk is 1.37%. That 4.91% is just based on what the casino expects to keep every time you make an ante bet. If the ante is $10, then the casino expects to win 49.1 cents per hand.
If you didn’t understand the difference, you’d think that Mississippi Stud is a lousy game, on par with an American roulette game. But with the additional wagering and correspondingly lower house edge, the game is more on a par with craps, which is a great game with fair odds for the player.
4- Consider Some Strategy Advice
Appropriately raising and folding are the keys to correct Mississippi Stud strategy. On 3rd street, you’ll either fold, bet equal to the ante, or raise by 3X the ante. You’ll never raise 2X the ante—that’s never mathematically correct.
On 4th street, you’ll also either raise the max (3X), bet the size of the ante, or fold. You should raise with any pat hand. (A pat hand is a hand that’s certain to win something.) You should also raise if you have a draw to a royal flush. And if you have a straight flush draw, you’ll also raise.
If you have a draw to a flush, a pair of 5s or lower, or a straight draw, you’ll bet the size of the ante. You’ll also make an ante-sized bet if you have a face card + any card 6 or higher, or if you have any 3 cards 6 or higher.Otherwise, you’ll fold. On 5th street, you will again choose from the following 3 options: raise 3X, bet the size of the ante, or fold. You’ll raise 3X the size of the ante if you have a flush draw or an outside straight draw.
5- How to Get an Edge by Colluding with Other Players
If you know anything about card counting in blackjack, you understand that being able to put more money into action when the odds are in your favor is a huge advantage. In Mississippi Stud, you have the opportunity to increase a single-unit bet by 9 additional units as you see the additional cards.
By using the appropriate basic strategy outlined in the previous section, you can reduce the effective house edge to 1.37%. But you could theoretically lower that house edge even further if you had more information. For example, if you had an idea about the cards the other players have in the hole, you could change your strategy to compensate.
You can also use techniques like hole carding to get even more information and gain an even higher edge. Be careful when considering marking cards, though—that kind of cheating is a felony in Nevada, and no one needs that kind of grief.
6- Where to Play Mississippi Stud Online for Free or for Real Money
You can find plenty of free online Mississippi Stud versions to play. When you’re playing a free version of this game, you’re given “play money” chips with which to wager. They have no monetary value. Such games can be great for learning the mechanics of game-play. In fact, I suggest trying a free version of the game before playing for real money.
The thing to understand is that the odds and probability for these free versions of Mississippi Stud might or might not mirror those of a real deck of cards. Most online casinos use the same random number generator program for their play money games as they do their real money games. These generally offer the same odds you’d face if you were playing with a deck of cards.
I’ve seen online casinos which make it really easy to win their play money games in the hope that you’ll be more likely to sign up for their real money casino. I don’t have proof of this, but I remember distinctly winning on a regular basis at one online casino which went out of business.
As far as playing for real money goes, you can find any number of online casinos offering Mississippi Stud. Most of the casinos recommended on this site offer the game. The trick is finding a reputable, trustworthy casino to do business with.
Since most online casinos operate offshore, it pays to do some homework before signing up for one. Look for thorough, detailed reviews like the ones offered here. Pay special attention to whether those reviews are just puff pieces or actual reviews.
Learning how to play Mississippi Stud is worth your time because of how easy and fun the game is. More importantly, the game offers a low house edge, which means you have a good chance of walking away a winner.
In terms of potential for advantage play, Mississippi Stud is ripe for the picking. It won’t take much research to find multiple ways of getting an edge while playing. Some of these are completely legal, but others could be considered felonies by the state of Nevada. (Don’t try to mark the cards, please.) Enjoy your Mississippi Stud experience, whether you play online or off, to win or just for entertainment.