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.