4-Card Poker was developed by Roger Snow of Shuffle Master. It’s a table casino game that uses the same Shuffle Master’s shuffling machine as 3-Card Poker. The two games have some similarities, but their gameplay and strategy have important differences.
4-Card Poker is two games in one: Ante-Play and Aces Up. In Ante-Play, you play against the dealer; in Aces Up, if you get a pair of Aces or better you are paid based on the paytable.
Here’s a quick player’s guide to 4-Card Poker.
How To Play 4-Card Poker
Like video poker, 4-Card Poker uses a standard 52-card deck on a table similar to Blackjack. Players have 3 circles in front of them: Aces Up, Ante, and 1x to 3x Ante. Each circle represents a different bet based on the play’s action.
Play begins when bets are made on Aces Up, Ante, or both. Players that decide to play both games must bet the same amount on each game.
Players are then dealt five cards face down. The aim is to make the best 4-card hand.
The dealer is dealt six cards, also with the aim to make the best 4-card hand, but one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face-up.
Players either continue the hand or fold. To continue, players must use their poker chips to make another Play bet, while folding means they lose the Ante bet and the hand ends. The minimum bet to continue must be equal to the original bet, but players have the option to bet up to three times the original Ante.
4-Card Poker Hand Rankings
4-Card Poker hand rankings are different from traditional poker games like Texas Hold’em. However, they are still based on the mathematical chances of making that hand.
Players must only use 4 out of the 5 cards they are dealt to make the strongest hand.
The 4-Card Poker hand rankings, from strongest to weakest, are:
- Four of a Kind: 4 cards of the same rank
- Straight Flush: 4 cards in sequence of the same suit
- Three of a Kind: 3 cards of the same rank
- Flush: 4 cards of the same suit
- Straight: 4 cards in sequence
- Two Pair: 2 cards of the same rank and 2 other cards of the same rank
- Pair of Aces: A pair of Aces
Once the player has made their decision to play or fold, the dealer then shows their hand, followed by the player showing theirs.
Note that there’s no bluffing involved in this game.
If the player beats the dealer, they win the Ante and Play bets. The player also wins in the event that they have the same hand as the dealer.
If the dealer beats the player, the player loses both bets.
4-Card Poker Ante Bonus
In addition to the Ante and Play bet, 4-Card Poker also offers an Ante Bonus paid based on the player’s Ante game hand.
Players are paid the Ante Bonus even if the dealer wins the hand.
The Ante Bonus payments are as follows:
|Hand||Ante Bonus Payout|
|Four of a Kind||25 to 1|
|Straight Flush||20 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||2 to 1|
Aces Up does not depend on the dealer’s hand. Players that make a Pair of Aces or better are paid on the Aces Up bet based on the Aces Up paytable.
Players can win an Aces Up bet even if they lose the Ante bet.
There are 7 Aces Up paytable and they are as follows:
|Hand||Paytable 1||Paytable 2||Paytable 3||Paytable 4||Paytable 5||Paytable 6||Paytable 7|
|Four of a Kind||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1|
|Straight Flush||40 to 1||40 to 1||30 to 1||30 to 1||40 to 1||40 to 1||40 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||9 to 1||7 to 1||9 to 1||7 to 1||8 to 1||8 to 1||7 to 1|
|Flush||6 to 1||6 to 1||6 to 1||6 to 1||5 to 1||6 to 1||5 to 1|
|Straight||4 to 1||5 to 1||4 to 1||5 to 1||4 to 1||4 to 1||4 to 1|
|Two Pair||2 to 1||2 to 1||2 to 1||2 to 1||3 to 1||2 to 1||3 to 1|
|Pair of Aces or better||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1|
4-Card Poker Strategy
There are three strategies to 4-Card Poker: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
Beginner 4-Card Poker Strategy
The most basic way to play the game is as follows:
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Tens and above
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Twos through Nines
- Fold all other hands
Playing this simple strategy results in a 3.396% house edge.
Intermediate 4-Card Poker Strategy
Here’s a strategy for players with some experience playing 4-Card Poker:
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Aces or better
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Kings through Jacks and the dealer’s upcard is lower than your pair; otherwise, bet 1x Ante
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Tens or Nines and the dealer’s upcard is higher than your pair; otherwise, bey 3x Ante
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Eights and the dealer’s upcard is a Two; otherwise, bet 1x Ante
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Sevens through Twos
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Twos or Ace-King-Queen High and the dealer’s upcard is of the same rank as a card in your hand; otherwise, fold
- Fold all other hand combinations
Playing the intermediate strategy results in a 2.8526% house edge.
Advanced 4-Card Poker Strategy
Here’s a strategy for players familiar with popular gambling quotes and who have lots of experience playing 4-Card Poker:
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Aces or better
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Kings, but bet 1x Ante if you don’t have an Ace or a Four and the dealer’s upcard is an Ace
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Queens or Jacks, but bet 1x Ante if the dealer’s upcard outranks your Pair and is not of the same rank as other cards in your hand
- Bet 3x Ante with a Pair of Tens or Nines, but bet 1x Ante if the dealer’s upcard outranks your Pair
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Eights, but bet 3x Ante if the dealer’s upcard is a Two
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Sevens through Fours
- Bet 1x Ante with a Pair of Threes, but fold if the dealer’s upcard is a Jack and your highest kicker is a Ten and lower
- Fold with a Pair of Twos or Ace-King-Queen High, but bet 1x Ante if the dealer’s upcard is of the same rank as a card in your hand
- Fold with Ace-King-Jack-Ten High, but bet 1x Ante if the dealer’s upcard is a Jack
- Fold with Ace-King-Jack-Nine and lower
Playing the advanced strategy results in a 2.8498% house edge.
Crazy 4 Poker
Crazy 4 Poker uses poker terms similar to 4-Card Poker but the Aces Up bet is replaced by a Super Bonus bet. There’s also a Queens Up side bet in Crazy 4 Poker.
The hand rankings in Crazy 4 Poker are the same as in 4-Card Poker, but the dealer only gets 5 cards to make a hand, rather than the 6 cards they get in 4-Card Poker.
The dealer must open with King High or better. If the dealer does not have King High or better, the Ante bet pushes.
All Play bets win if the dealer does not qualify. When the dealer does qualify, bets are resolved on who has the best hand.
Crazy 4 Poker Super Bonus
Like with 4-Card Poker’s Aces Up, Crazy 4 Poker’s Super Bonus pays even if the player loses the Ante bet.
The Super Bonus paytable is as follows:
|Hand||Super Bonus Payout|
|Four of a Kind: Aces||200 to 1|
|Four of a Kind: Kings through Twos||30 to 1|
|Straight Flush||15 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||2 to 1|
|Flush||3 to 2|
|Straight||1 to 1|
In the event of a tie on the Ante Bet, the Super Bonus pushes. However, if the result ties from a Straight or better, the player wins the Super Bonus bet.
The common paytable for Crazy 4 Poker’s Queens Up bet is as follows:
|Hand||Queens Up Payout|
|Four of a Kind||50 to 1|
|Straight Flush||40 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||7 to 1|
|Flush||4 to 1|
|Straight||3 to 1|
|Two Pair||2 to 1|
|Pair of Queens or better||1 to 1|
But like paying gambling tax on their winnings, players aren’t keen on giving up much of an edge.
The Queens Up bet has a 6.7% house edge, making it a really bad bet for optimal strategy. To highlight how bad it is, the house edge in American Roulette is 5.26%, so you’re better off spinning the wheel and hoping for a win.