Go Fore It

Introduction

Go Fore It could be very loosely described as a golf-based game. The object is to get as few points as possible in four cards. After seeing two cards, the player has a raise or fold decision to make. If that isn't enough, there are a couple of side bets too.

I first saw the game at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo. Later, in April 2015, I heard it had a placement at the Cannery casino in North Las Vegas.

Rules

Following are the rules for Go Fore It. All pays are expressed on a "to one" basis.

1. A single 52-card deck is used.
2. Cards are scored as follows:
• Aces: 1 point.
• 2-10: Pip value.
• Face cards: 10 points.
3. There are three bets available before any cards are dealt: Gopher, Skins, and the Front 9.
4. Play shall start with the dealer giving the player two cards.
5. Next, the player must make a Back 9 bet or fold the Front 9 bet. The Back 9 bet, if made, must be equal to the Front 9 bet. If the player folds, he will still have action on the Gopher and Skins bets, if made.
6. Then the dealer will deal the player two more cards and himself four cards.
7. The Front 9 bet shall pay based on the player's total points only. If the player has 24 or less, then the Front 9 bet shall pay even money. Otherwise, with 25 or more, it will lose.
8. The Back 9 bet shall also pay based on the player's total only, according to the following pay table.

Back 9 Pay Table

Points Pays
4 - 8 points 25
9 - 13 points 5
14 - 18 points 2
19 - 24 points 1
25 - 40 points Loss

9. The Gopher bet pays according to the number of aces in the player's final four-card hand. According to game literature, there are two possible pay tables, as follows:

Gopher Pay Table

Aces Pay Table 1 Pay Table 2
4 1000 1000
3 50 50
2 6 5
1 2 2
0 Loss Loss

10. The Skins bet pays according to whether the player or dealer will have the lower final four-card hand. Ties go to the dealer.

Front 9 & Back 9 Analysis

The following table shows the number of combinations, probability, and contribution to the return of all possible events of the Front 9 and Back 9 bets combined, assuming optimal player strategy.

Front 9 & Back 9 — Analysis

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
4 - 8 points 26 10,608 0.001633 0.042449
9 - 13 points 6 129,048 0.019861 0.119169
14 - 18 points 3 587,208 0.090376 0.271128
19 - 24 points 2 1,502,832 0.231297 0.462595
25 - 40 points -2 1,739,304 0.267692 -0.535385
Fold -1 2,528,400 0.389140 -0.389140
Total   6,497,400 1.000000 -0.029185

The lower right cell shows a house edge of 2.92%. This means if the player bets one unit each on the Front 9 and Back 9, then he can expect to lose 2.92% of one of them.

However, I think an appropriate measure of how good of a value the game is is the Element of Risk. This is the ratio of the expected loss to the total amount bet. On average, the player will raise 61.09% of the time, for an average total bet of 1.6109 units. The Element of Risk is thus 2.92%/1.62 = 1.81%.

Strategy

The optimal strategy for the Back 9 bet is to raise with 14 or fewer points and fold with 15 or more. There are no exceptions.

Gopher

The following table shows the probability and contribution to the return of all possible outcomes under pay table 1 of the Gopher bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 1.85%.

Gopher Bet — Pay Table 1

Player Hand Wild/Natural Pays Combinations Probability Return
4 1000 1 0.000004 0.003694
3 50 192 0.000709 0.035460
2 6 6,768 0.025000 0.149997
1 2 69,184 0.255551 0.511102
0 -1 194,580 0.718737 -0.718737
Total   270,725 1.000000 -0.018484

The following table shows the probability and contribution to the return of all possible outcomes under pay table 2 of the Gopher bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.35%.

Gopher Bet — Pay Table 2

Player Hand Wild/Natural Pays Combinations Probability Return
4 1000 1 0.000004 0.003694
3 50 192 0.000709 0.035460
2 5 6,768 0.025000 0.124998
1 2 69,184 0.255551 0.511102
0 -1 194,580 0.718737 -0.718737
Total   270,725 1.000000 -0.043483

Skins

The following table shows the probability and contribution to the return of all possible outcomes of the Skins bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.37%.

Skins

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Player wins 1 15,798,567,610,368 0.478173 0.478173
Tie -1 1,442,299,716,864 0.043654 -0.043654
Dealer wins -1 15,798,567,610,368 0.478173 -0.478173
Total   33,039,434,937,600 1.000000 -0.043654

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Shufflemaster, the game owner, for providing me their math report, compiled by Elliot Frome. My results were in close agreement.