I used to participate in casino focus groups. One game I tested was Split Card, which is a video poker variant.
The rule of the focus group is that I cannot discuss a game unless I find it on a casino floor. Much to my surprise, Split Card made it out of testing. It is not that I thought the game was bad. It’s just complicated and I did not think it would attract much positive feedback.
How to Play Split Card
The game is played like a traditional multi-hand game. I have seen Split Card dealt in three, five and ten-hand formats. The Split Card requires an additional five coins per line. This means that a nickel player is wagering $5 a hand on ten-play. This is part of why I wondered if the game would make it.
Split Card starts out with the player making a wager on all hands. You can bet less, but you should not. The reason for this is that you can probably find a better pay table without the feature; playing this for five coins or fewer per line is probably a mistake in terms of payback.
After making the ten-coin per line wager, the player is dealt five cards. The split card appears about every fourth dealt hand. This card is either the same card twice or two connected and suited ones. For example, it could be two three of clubs, or the two and three of clubs.
No Split Card – If the player does not receive the split card, the hand plays out normally. The player may draw a split card if not dealt one. Unfortunately, there are not usually helpful. It would have to almost be the perfect card to substantially improve a hand. A 7c8c split card does not help much when you hold a pair of threes. On the other hand, drawing a paired split card may be an improvement.
Split Card is Dealt – If the split card is dealt, it can change everything. Players should look closely at what was dealt. Sometimes it is obvious. If a player gets dealt an ace and gets dealt an ace in the split card, it is obvious that it should be kept. Sometimes it can turn a bad hand into a four-card flush, which is a great start in this game. That is because players have two shots at drawing into the four-card flush. It’s even better if the split card is paired as the hand is a pair plus four to a flush. This creates the possibility of drawing full two pair, trips, full houses and quads, in addition to the flush draw.
Another odd hand is three pair with the split card. I’ve determined that if the split card is a pair of jacks or better, or twos, threes or fours, hold it by itself. If there is no winner or special quad pair, hold the split pair with one of the other two.
Five of a kind is possible. This occurs when a player has a split card and draws the same card in the three other suits. Four of a kind pays 3,000 coins on max bet. That is 1,000 fewer than a royal flush.
Best Casino to Play Split Card
Emerald Island is the best casino for Split Card. That is because the pay tables there are full pay or close to it on the low denominations of the game. The other casinos require the quarter denomination to receive games that approach 99%. Emerald Island is located in downtown Henderson.
Where to Play Split Card in Las Vegas
There are eight casinos in Las Vegas that offer Split Card. The game may be found at:
- Emerald Island
- Palace Station
- Red Rock
- Sunset Station
- Texas Station
Split Card Poker Hands and Gameplay [Gallery]
Below you can find many examples of my time spent playing Split Card, which turned out to be one of my favorite video poker games: