This game is simplicity itself: you are dealt 5 cards; 4 up and 1 down and you have the option of doubling your bet before the fifth card is exposed. In the table format, the minimum bet is usually \$5 which may be doubled to a total of \$10 and in the machine format, the minimum is usually 25 cents, but in order to be eligible for the progressive Royal Flush jackpot, an initial bet of 5 coins is required and that may be doubled to 10 for a total bet of \$2.50. A player cannot double for more OR less than the initial bet. Your final hand is paid according to this schedule:

 Royal Flush Progressive (or 1000 to 1 if less than maximum coins are played.) Straight Flush 200 to 1 Four-of-a-Kind 50 to 1 Full House 12 to 1 Flush 9 to 1 Straight 6 to 1 3-of-a-Kind 4 to 1 Two Pair 3 to 1 Pair of Jacks-Aces 2 to 1 Pair of Sixes-Tens 1 to 1

Obviously, if your initial four cards contain 2 sixes or better, you should double, since the worst you’ll do is get your money back. The only strategy here is how to play hands with a value of less than a pair of sixes. For example, should you double on a pair of fives? In a word, no. Doubling the bet on a ‘baby’ pair (2-5) is the biggest mistake most players make at this game. That very action doubles the house edge against you!

## Oh, no. Here he goes with the math again!

Sure, every once in a while you’ll get trips on the draw when you double a ‘baby’ pair, but not often enough to warrant the bet. Think about it; you’ve received 4 cards, two of them are, let’s say, fives, the others are a six and a seven. The down card is any one of the 48 remaining: 2 fives, 3 sixes, 3 sevens and 40 other cards which will do you no good. So, 8 cards help you, 40 don’t. If you played this hand 48 times and every remaining card showed up in its proper proportion in the deck, you’d end with 3 fives twice, a pair of sixes 3 times and a pair of sevens 3 times. The other times you’d receive no help. Thus, you would bet an additional 10 coins 48 times, for a total of 480 coins. Two of those times, you’d get back 20 X 4 = 80 for the 3 fives, 20 X 1 = 20 for the pair of sixes three times and 20 X 1 = 20 for the sevens 3 times. To summarize:

 3 threes = 160 return 2 sixes = 60 return 2 sevens = 60 return Total = 280 return for 480 coins bet

Even if the other cards in the hand were face cards, the play would still be a loser. With faces, the total return would be 400 coins for the 480 you bet. That’s no way to make money, boys and girls.

One more example. Let’s say you’re dealt a hand of A, K, Q, J (unsuited). The fifth card can be any one of 48, but 3 are Aces, 3 are Kings, 3 are Queens, 3 are Jacks and there are 4 tens which will give you a straight. So, 12 of 48 work and those will pay 2 to 1 on your bet. An additional 4 also work and those will pay 6 to 1. Thus an additional bet of 480 coins will return 12 X 20 = 240 and 4 X 60 = 240 or 480 coins. You break even on this bet, but it’s worth making if the casino has a good slot club which gives you cash back, since it’s based on how much you bet. At a table game you should not make this bet, because all it will do is increase your bankroll fluctuations.

## The Strategy for Double Down Stud

The analysis above gives us the means to determine a proper playing strategy for this game and it’s very simple. Obviously, you should double on any hand which is a pair of sixes or better. The only other hands to double on are those with four cards of the same suit (a flush or straight flush) and an open-ended straight draw (2,3,4,5…..10,J,Q,K). An ‘inside’ straight draw, other than A,K,Q,J, should not be doubled.

## Some Final Thoughts

If you are, or you know a ‘die-hard’ slot machine player, this is a good game to use as a transition from the slots to video poker.Some strategy is needed, but it’s simple and play at a quarter a pop can stretch a \$10 roll for a fairly long time. Forget about the Royal Flush ‘jackpot’, which takes a 10-coin bet, since it’s a 1 in 650,000 long shot that most will never see in their lifetime. But with a casino edge of 2.7% (over 5 % if ‘baby’ pairs are bet) no serious money should ever be wagered at this game.