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Crazy 4 Poker strategy

April 12, 2011 6:00 AM by Elliot Frome

Shortly after Four Card Poker was being launched, another similar, yet different, game hit the marketplace. It was called Crazy 4 Poker.

In a recent conversation with Roger Snow, executive vice president at Shuffle Master, he revealed Crazy 4 Poker was invented on January 28, 2002. How does he remember the specific date? It was the same day Four Card Poker went live at Jackson Rancheria in California.

Fearful that Four Card Poker was going to flop, he immediately went to work on its successor game. As it turns out, he got them both right.

For reasons not fully known, the game was a big hit in Nevada. There are currently about 100 Crazy 4 Poker tables, of which 40 are in Nevada. Virtually every major casino in Las Vegas has one.

Crazy 4 Poker is an important piece in the history of table games. It introduced the concept of a "super bonus" (now more commonly referred to as the "blind" wager) in Shuffle Master games. This has become a staple of their more recent games.

Crazy 4 Poker is broken down into two separate wagers. The first called Queens Up is like Pair Plus. If the player is dealt a pair of queens or better he wins according to the paytable in use.

The second portion of the game is like Ante/Play. It requires the player to make both an ante wager and a super bonus wager. The player and dealer are each dealt five cards to make their best four card hand.

Once the player has reviewed his hand, he can either fold, forfeiting his ante and super bonus wagers, or he can play. If the player has a pair of aces or better, he may play three times his ante wager. If he has less than a pair of aces, he can only wager one times his ante. Thus, when the player has a strong hand, he can really sock it to the casino.

After all players have decided what they want to do, the dealer reveals his hand. If the dealer does not have at least a king high, his hand does not qualify. In this case, the ante wager is pushed and the play wager is paid even money.

This means if you have a strong hand and play 3x you will still win even money on this when the dealer does not qualify. If the dealer’s hand is a king high or better, his hand qualifies.

In this case, if the player’s hand outranks the dealer’s hand, he will be paid even money on both his ante and play wagers. If the dealer’s hand outranks the player’s hand, the player will lose his ante and play wagers.

The payouts on the super bonus wager are a bit more complex. If the player has a straight or better (keep in mind with a four-card hand, trips outrank straights and flushes), he is paid according to the paytable regardless of the dealer’s hand.

If the player beats the dealer, but with a hand less than a straight, the wager pushes. If the player loses to the dealer with a hand less than a straight, the wager loses.

The strategy for Crazy 4 Poker is rather similar to that of Three Card Poker. The player must remember only a single strategy to master the game (K-Q-8). If the player’s hand is K-Q-8 or higher, he should play.

Technically, he must also remember to play 3x if he has a pair of aces or better, but I consider this part of the strategy to be more than a little obvious. The player will win 90% of these hands.

It should be noted that K-Q-8 is not actually "perfect strategy." There are a handful of hands that should be folded above K-Q-8 and a few that should be played below. However, these require taking into account the specific suit makeup of the hand and are likely to cost more in errors by the players than they are worth. The difference between "perfect" and "expert" strategy is a mere 0.01% of payback.

Speaking of payback, if you follow the simple strategy provided here, you’ll find Crazy 4 Poker affords a 98.91% payback on the ante/play portion of the game. Given the relatively easy strategy, this is a very strong payback to offer.

As a side note to those who like to play games like this, never folding in Crazy 4 Poker will take the payback down to 96.5%. Considering an average wager of more than three units per hand, a $5 player will be throwing away about $15 per hour more by following this wayward strategy.

Stick to the K-Q-8 and before you know it, you’ll be Crazy 4 Poker too! You can read more about Crazy 4 Poker and many other games at my www.gambatria.com website.

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