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Poker with a Joker
Poker with a Joker is a poker-based game that made its casino appearance at the Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas in early 2015.
- A 53-card deck is used, including one fully-wild joker.
- Play begins with the player making equal Ante and Bonus wagers. The player may also make optional Wild 5 and Wild 7 side bets.
- The player and dealer shall each receive five cards face down. There will also be two community cards dealt face down.
- After examining his cards, the player has the following options:
- Fold and forfeit the Ante and Bonus bets.
- Make a Play bet equal to 1 to 3 times the Ante bet.
- If the player makes the Play bet, then he may keep his original five cards or discard one. If the player discards, then he shall be able to include the two community cards with his hand.
- After all players have acted, the dealer shall reveal his own five cards and play them according to the following house way:
- If the dealer has a pat five-card hand (straight, flush, full house, straight flush, royal flush, or five of a kind), then he shall stand.
- If the dealer has a two pair, three of a kind, or four of a kind, then he shall discard the lowest singleton.
- If the dealer has four to a flush or outside straight, then the dealer shall discard the fifth card. If the dealer has both of these hands, then he shall keep the four to a flush.
- Otherwise, if the dealer has a pair or five singletons, then he shall discard the lowest singleton.
- The dealer shall reveal the two community cards.
- Both the player and dealer shall be allowed to include the two community cards in his own hand if he discarded.
- The dealer shall determine the poker value of both hands.
- If the dealer's hand is a pair or better, then the dealer shall qualify.
- The player and dealer hands shall be compared. The Ante, Bonus, and Play bets shall be adjudicated as follows:
- If the dealer does not qualify, then the Ante bet shall automatically push.
- The Ante and Play wagers pay 1 to 1 if the player has the higher hand, push on a tie, and lose if the dealer has the higher hand.
- The Bonus wager shall pay according to the following pay table if the player has the higher hand, push on a tie, and lose if the dealer has the higher hand. All wins are on a "to one" basis.
Bonus Wager Pay Table
Hand Pays Five of a kind 100 Royal flush 50 Straight flush 10 Four of a kind 5 Full house 3 Flush 2 Straight 1 All other Push
- The Wild 5 side bet is paid based on the player's original five cards and the following pay table. All wins are on a "to one" basis.
Wild 5 Pay Table
Hand Pays Five of a kind 1000 Royal flush 500 Straight flush 250 Four of a kind 100 Full house 50 Flush 25 Straight 10 Three of a kind 5 Two pair 5 All other Loss
- The Wild 7 side bet is paid based on the player's original five cards plus the two community cards and the following pay table. The top two awards are based on a progressive jackpot. The bet is always $1. All wins are on a "for one" basis.
Wild 7 Pay Table
Hand Pays Seven-card straight flush 100% of Jackpot Five aces 10% of Jackpot Five of a kind (2-K) $500 Royal flush $250 Straight flush $100 Four of a kind $20 Full house $4 All other $0
The following is known as the "Station Casinos Strategy" and is available on the rack cards at the Green Valley Ranch. I'm told it results in a house edge 1% higher than optimal strategy, or about 3.84%.
- With a pat hand (five card flush, straight, full house, Royal, Five of a kind) — Keep hand and raise 3x.
- Four to a flush or outside straight, or a pair of 8's or better — Keep the high pair on the draw and raise 3x.
- Four to an inside straight, or a pair of 7's down to a Queen high with no draw — Call 1x.
- Jack-high or less and there is no draw — Fold.
The next strategy I call the "Steve How" strategy. If you're not familiar with the name, he is the genius behind the site Discount Gambling. I assume this strategy is near optimal.
- 3x Play a pat Five-of-a-Kind, else
- 3x Play a pat Royal Flush, else
- 3x Play a pat Straight Flush, else
- 3x Play a pat Full House, else
- 3x Play Four-of-a-Kind, and discard singleton, else
- 3x Play a Royal Flush draw or an open-ended Straight Flush draw (e.g., break a pat straight or flush), else
- 3x Play a pat Flush or Straight, else
- 3x Play any Straight Flush draw, else
- 3x Play wild Three-of-a-Kind (hold singleton that maximizes straight draws), else
- 3x Play Three-of-a-Kind (discard lowest singleton), else
- 3x Play Two Pairs and discard singleton, else
- 3x Play any wild flush draw, else
- 3x Play any wild open-ended draw, else
- 3x Play any Joker hand (discard singleton that maximizes straight draws), else
- 3x Play a pair of 8's or better, and hold 3 suited cards or else maximize straight draws, else
- 3x Play a flush draw (e.g., breaking a pair of 7's or lower), else
- 3x Play a Jack-high open-ended straight draw, else
- 3x Play an Ace-high gutshot straight draw, else
- 1x Play an open-ended straight draw, else
- 1x Play a pair with 3 suited cards, else
- 1x Play a pair, holding kickers that maximize straight draws, else
- 1x Play 3 suited cards with highest offsuit singleton, else
- 1x Play highest 4-cards if Queen-high or better, else
- 1x Play 4-cards with maximum number of possible straight draws, else
- Fold all others (i.e., no possible straight draws).
Base Game Analysis
The math report by GLI states that under optimal strategy the house edge, defined as the ratio of the expected loss to the Ante bet, is 2.84%. The average wager is 3.88 units, for an Element of Risk of 0.73%.
Wild 5 Analysis
The following table shows the probability and contribution to the return of all possible outcomes of the Wild 5 bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 5.45%.
Wild 5 Return Table
|Five of a kind||1000||13||0.000005||0.004530|
|Four of a kind||100||3,120||0.001087||0.108723|
|Three of a kind||5||137,280||0.047838||0.239190|
Wild 7 Analysis
The following table shows the probability and contribution to the return of all possible outcomes of the Wild 7 bet under a hypothetical "break even" jackpot of $524,541.60.
Wild 7 Return Table
|Seven-card straight flush||$524,541.60||32||0.000000||0.108894|
|Five of a kind (2-K)||$500.00||13,536||0.000088||0.043907|
|Four of a kind||$20.00||1,121,024||0.007273||0.145452|
Here are some more statistics on the Wild 7.
- The return from fixed Wild 7 wins is 50.73%.
- Each $10,000 in the meter adds 0.94% to the return.
- Each $10,645.24 adds 1% to the return.
- The "break even" point, where the bet is exactly fair, is $524,541.60.
I would like to thank the game owners for providing the math report by GLI, which was used for the house edge and element of risk above. I did my own analysis of the Wild 5 and Wild 7 side bets.
Wizard of Vegas — Forum discussion about Poker with a Joker.
Written by: Michael Shackleford