High Card Flush
As the story goes, a table games dealer by the name of Mike Pertgen was working at the Rio casino in Las Vegas, Nevada a few years back, when inspiration struck.
The experienced dealer decided to start tinkering around with an idea for a new table game concept, and eventually, High Card Flush was born sometime around 2010.
Pertgen’s vision for High Card Flush was a simple player versus dealer affair, with both receiving seven cards, and the longest and / or highest string of suited cards winning the hand to lend the game its distinctive title.
Making its debut at Harrah’s Laughlin the following year, High Card Flush initially gained little traction among casino goers. Under the marketing of Red Card Gaming, the game appeared destined for the scrap heap of obsolete casino game creations, until a third party swooped in to revive the promising concept.
Galaxy Gaming Takes Over
Casino game manufacturer Galaxy Gaming acquired Red Card Gaming in September of 2012, a merger which also included ownership over the High Card Flush concept. According to a statement issued at the time by Ron Marks, vice president of sales for Galaxy Gaming, the chance to add High Card Flush to the company’s portfolio largely motivated the merger:
“From the moment our team first encountered High Card Flush, we knew we wanted it to be a part of our portfolio. It has some unique qualities never before seen in a casino table game and as a result, some hesitation among players was initially observed. However, as the game gained exposure, it built up a loyal following and is becoming a top performer.”
That year, after a few slight modifications to the gameplay structure were made by Galaxy Gaming, High Card Flush was named by Casino Journal as the “Best New Table Game of 2012.”
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Highly Popular Casino Game
In the wake of a highly successful 10 placement “incubation” period – during which High Card Flush appeared in casinos located in Nevada, California, and Washington – Galaxy Gaming CEO Robert Saucier also expressed optimism that his company had a hit on their hands:
“We always thought we had acquired something extraordinary when we purchased High Card Flush. However, the exceptional results our clients recorded during this ‘incubation period’ support the speculation that this game may be destined to become an industry legend. During the test, we had a diverse number of placements to determine the game’s popularity and profitability with different demographics and locales. In every environment we tested, the game performed exceedingly well, often outperforming each casino’s other proprietary table games. With successful testing and analysis now complete, our sales team can fulfill the backlog of requests in queue from other casinos.”
Saucier’s appraisal of High Card Flush proved to be prescient, and today the game has climbed to the top of a crowded table game marketplace to become a staple in brick and mortar casinos throughout North America and worldwide.
Test it Out for Yourself
If you’ve ever passed by the High Card Flush table and found yourself curious, but unwilling to risk real money without learning the ropes first, this page was written with you in mind. Here you’ll find a thorough description of the game’s rules and procedures, including a running example hand to help illustrate the concepts, and even a link to a play money High Card Flush learning tool found online. Next up is a useful guide to locating brick and mortar casinos near you which currently carry the game, followed by an introduction to the strategic elements needed to play correctly.
Rules and How to Play
With that said, take a moment to read up on both of those games if you’re not already familiar with them, as the betting structure and other aspects will be similar to those found in High Card Flush.
The game is played using a standard 52 card deck of playing cards, and all cards are valued at their usual rank.
However, rather than ranking actual poker hands like Pairs, Three of a Kind, or Straights, High Card Flush is all about forming strings of suited cards (also known as a flush for poker rookies).
Understanding High Card Flush Hand Rankings
In this game, the objective is to land strings of consecutive suited cards (all hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs). When playing traditional poker, players need to hold five suited cards to form a flush, but in High Card Flush, your longest string of suited cards is what you’ll be playing.
Thus, if you are dealt three high hearts along with four low spades, you’ll always be playing the four card flush over the three card variety. Your highest string of suited cards is referred to as the “maximum flush.” Seven card maximum flushes are obviously higher than six card maximum flushes, which outrank five card maximum flushes, and so on down the line.
Worst Hand to Have
With seven cards to work with on each hand, the worst you’ll ever hold is a two-card maximum flush (with something like Ad Ks 10h 9c 8d 7s 2h). In this case, you have a pair of two card flushes (Ad 8d and Ks 7s).
On occasions when you happen to hold two different flushes of the same size (two cards, three cards, and so on), the “tie” is broken by using the traditional poker hand ranking method. Using the example above, the Ad 8d flush for ace high would outrank the king high Ks 7s flush.
Remember, though, this is simply an example, and for the most part, you’ll be folding these inferior two card flush hands (more to come in the strategy section) while playing three card flush hands and better.
Best Hand to Have
On the other end of the spectrum, the best hand you can hold is obviously a seven card maximum flush, and should the dealer happen to hold the same, that tie is broken using the same high card process.
Playing High Card Flush
Step #1: Place Your Bets
To begin a hand, players must first put up a mandatory wager known as the Ante bet. At this time, you can also place an optional side bet known as the Bonus bet.
For the sake of our running example hand, we’ll assume that a $5 chip has been placed on both the Ante bet and the Bonus bet.
Step #2: Seven Cards for Each Player
Once all players present have put up their wagers, the dealer will then distribute seven cards face down to each player, along with seven cards face down to themselves.
With 49 of the 52 cards dealt out on each hand, the High Card Flush table is outfitted to seat up to six players, along with the dealer (6 players + 1 dealer = 7 spots; 7 hands x 7 cards = 49 cards dealt).
For our running example hand, we’ll use a strong hand like Kh Qh 7h 4h 3h 3d 2c, which would give us a five card maximum flush ranked at king high.
Step #3: First Betting Round
After examining your cards, you’ll be faced with the game’s lone player decision point: Fold or Call. Once you’ve assessed the relative strength of your seven down cards, it’s time to decide between a Fold or a Call.
- FOLD: you simply surrender the hand straight away and the house claims your Ante bet.
- CALL: you’ll need to place a second Call bet.
In most table games, this second bet is equal to the size of your Ante bet, but in High Card Flush a three-tiered system is used to determine your Call bet sizing:
|First Tier||When you hold a two , three or four card flush, the maximum Call bet you can make is equal exactly the amount of your Ante bet.|
|Second Tier||When you hold a five card flush, the maximum Call bet you can make is equal to exactly double the amount of your Ante bet. In this case, you can still opt to place a smaller Call bet equal to exactly the Ante bet.|
|Third Tier||When you hold a six or seven card flush, the maximum Call bet you can make is equal to exactly triple the amount of your Ante bet. In this case, you can still opt to place a smaller Call bet equal to either 1x or 2x your Ante bet.|
Returning to our running example hand, in which we hold the Kh Qh 7h 4h 3h 3d 2c, our five card flush enables us to make a Call bet of either 1x or 2x our Ante bet. As you’ll learn in the strategy section, making the maximum allowable Call bet is always the correct play when you do decide to Call, so here we’ll go ahead and Call for an additional $10 (double the $5 Ante bet).
Step #4: Dealer Reveals Their Cards
When all players have completed their action, either folding or calling, the dealer will then reveal their own seven card holding. The dealer must follow the same hand ranking guidelines described above, so they’ll identify their best possible flush and slide those cards forward.
Step #5: Dealer Qualifying Hand
|#1||The dealer must produce a three card flush of nine high in order to qualify.|
|#2||When the dealer fails to produce a qualifying hand, all players who chose to Call will have their Ante bets paid out at even money (no matter what cards they hold), while all Call bet(s) will be returned as a push.|
|#3||When the dealer does manage to table a qualifying hand, players holding a superior hand will have their Ante bet and their Call bet(s) paid out at even money.|
|#4||Players who showdown an inferior hand relative to the dealer’s qualifying hand will see their Ante bet and Call bet(s) claimed by the house.|
|#5||On occasions when your hand is ranked identically to the dealer’s (a four card flush of 10 high, for example), your Ante bet and Call bet(s) will be returned as a push.|
Step #6: Getting Paid
Once the player has been paid for winning the Ante bet, the next bet that any player who chose to wager on the optional Bonus side bet will now have their hand compared to the appropriate pay table, with the dealer awarding payouts when necessary.
Bonus Bet Pay Table
|High Card Flush Bonus Bet Pay Table (Standard)|
|Seven Card Flush||300 to 1|
|Six Card Flush||100 to 1|
|Five Card Flush||10 to 1|
|Four Card Flush||1 to 1|
By taking a look at our running example hand (Kh Qh 7h 4h 3h 3d 2c), we can see how this payout scale works. With our five card flush and $5 placed on the Bonus Side bet, we’d earn an additional payout of $50 at 10 to 1 on our money.
Alternate Bonus Bet Pay table
A few different versions of the Bonus bet pay table have been encountered and reported by players. The pay table above is the most commonly found, but when playing at a Harrah’s property, you may also see the following pay table in play:
|High Card Flush Bonus Bet Pay Table (Harrah’s)|
|Seven Card Flush||200 to 1|
|Six Card Flush||50 to 1|
|Five Card Flush||6 to 1|
|Four Card Flush||1 to 1|
|Three Card Flush (8-high or Worse)||Push|
|Two Card Flush||Push|
|Three Card Flush (9-high or Better)||Loss|
As you can see, this alternative pay table is a little more player friendly, offering a chance to push on the Bonus bet when you make three card flushes of eight high or worse, or any two card flush.
When it comes to comparing these pay tables, however, both offer high house edge rates which are quite comparable. The standard pay table carries a house edge of 7.95 percent, while the Harrah’s version is slightly lower at 7.81 percent. This difference is negligible from a statistical standpoint, so there’s no real need to “shop around” for one paytable or the other.
Straight Flush Side Bet
Finally, some casino venues have also added a second side bet known as the Straight Flush bet, which pays out whenever a player forms a straight flush using three or more cards. In poker games, a straight flush is formed by landing consecutive cards (6 7 8 9 or 10 J Q K A) all in the same suit.
|High Card Flush Straight Flush Bet Pay Table|
|Seven Card Straight Flush||8,000 to 1|
|Six Card Straight Flush||1,000 to 1|
|Five Card Straight Flush||100 to 1|
|Four Card Straight Flush||60 to 1|
|Three Card Straight Flush||7 to 1|
|All Other Hands||Loss|
This side bet carries an outlandish house edge rate of 13.11 percent, making it a non-starter for any savvy casino player concerned with preserving their bankroll rather than gambling on long shots.
That section may have seemed like a mountain of information to take in, but in all actuality playing High Card Flush can be learned in a matter of minutes. Now that you know the basics, take a spin on this free to play High Card Flush learning tool. Here you’ll be able to set your wagers, take a seven card hand, and make the decisions for yourself before taking on the dealer’s hand. With just a few deals under your belt, you’ll be primed for a real money session at your favorite casino venue in no time flat.
Best Places to Play High Card Flush
High Card Flush ranks among the most highly placed table games today, so odds are you can find the game in your nearest casino property.
To help narrow things down, based on player generated reports, it appears you can find High Card Flush tables at the vast majority, if not all, of the Caesars Entertainment, owned casino venues across the United States and Canada.
For a guide to finding the closest Caesars Entertainment affiliated casino, check out the state by state breakdown below:
Walk into any of these Caesars Entertainment brand casino venues and you’ll be highly likely to spot at least one High Card Flush table somewhere on the site.
Other US Casinos
The following list highlights several non-Caesars casinos in Las Vegas which have been known to carry High Card Flush at one point or another:
- Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel
- Flamingo Las Vegas
- Green Valley Ranch Resort
- Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa
- M Luxury Resort Hotel Casino
- Sunset Station
The lists above are by no means comprehensive, however, so be sure to check around with your local tribal casinos and other gaming establishments to see where High Card Flush is played in your area.
Strategic Considerations for High Card Flush
With only a single player decision point, and no ability to draw or otherwise improve one’s holding, High Card Flush strategy can be boiled down to a simple set of guidelines dictating when to Fold and when to Call.
One Basic Rule to Follow
According to casino game mathematician Charles Mousseau, of Total Gaming Science, the game can be played very close to optimally by using just one basic rule:
- Call for the maximum amount when holding at least a three card flush 10 8 6 or better.
This means you’ll always be making the Call bet for the maximum amount with all four card, five card, six card, and seven card flush. When you have a three card flush, the threshold you need to make the Call bet is 10 8 6 high. So a hand like 10 8 7 would be a Call, while something like 10 8 5 would be a Fold. Any three card flush of jack high or better would be a Call, and all three card flushes of nine high or worse would be a Fold.
By sticking to this simple baseline for your Call hands, you’ll create game conditions which offer a house edge of 2.71 percent.
Alternate Optimal Strategy
One of Mousseau’s colleagues and collaborators among the casino game theorist profession, Michael Shackleford of Wizard of Odds fame, has created his own optimal strategy for High Card Flush – one which shaves the house edge against you down to 2.65 percent.
According to Shackleford’s game page for High Card Flush, players should adhere to the following rules in order to achieve optimal play:
- Call for the maximum amount when holding a three card flush ranked J 9 6 high or better.
- Fold all three card flushes of 9 7 4 or worse.
- Use your instincts on all three card flushes between 9 7 5 high and J 9 5 high.
Whichever way you choose to approach High Card Flush, the game is always considered to be a great bet from a strategic standpoint. The low house edge of 2.71 percent puts it among the most favorable hybrid table games on the casino floor, so you’ll be facing decent odds over the duration of each session.
Of course, this assumes you strictly avoid both of the optional side bets found on the High Card Flush table, as each one carries a high enough house edge to be considered a “sucker bet” for savvy players to steer clear from.