High Five Poker
The hybrid table game known as High Five Poker was designed and developed by casino game manufacturer Shuffle Master.
The original trademark application for the game was filed in 2010, and High Five Poker debuted at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut a short time later.
Shuffle Master was eventually acquired by rival casino equipment company Bally Technologies in 2013, taking over the ownership rights for several games, High Five Poker included.
The concept behind High Five Poker is a blend of the ubiquitous table game Three Card Poker and the Asian-inspired Pai Gow Poker. This means players use a 53 card deck with a single joker “wild card” added to the equation while attempting to make a strong enough five-card poker hand to beat the dealer’s hand.
Found at Select Locations
Although the game initially spread to several casinos across the United States following its debut, today, High Five Poker appears to be a thing of the past, relegated to only a few brick-and-mortar venues at this time. As for the online casino industry, no major software providers have chosen to adapt the game for play over the internet.
Nonetheless, you can still find High Five Poker tables scattered around the country, and for players who appreciate Three Card Poker and Pai Gow Poker, the game offers a refreshing fusion of the two. If you fit the bill, and High Five Poker is on your list of table game goals, this guide is perfect for you.
Here you’ll find a detailed introduction to the game’s rules and setup, including descriptions of the available wagers, pay tables, player actions, and other need-to-know information. Next up is a guide to locating the game amidst the crowded brick and mortar casino landscape, followed by a discussion on the proper strategy to help you play your cards right.
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Rules and How to Play
First things first: High Five Poker incorporates elements of Three Card Poker and Pai Gow Poker, so if you’re unfamiliar with those base games, we recommend heading to our games page to study up before taking on this hybrid.
As a derivative of Pai Gow Poker, you’ll notice that High Five Poker also includes a single joker card, which is added to the standard 52 card deck of playing cards.
This joker card serves as a semi-wild card, meaning players can use it to substitute for other cards to improve their hands. In this game, however, as in Pai Gow Poker, the joker card can only be used to complete a straight, a flush, a straight flush, or a royal flush. In all other cases, the joker card plays as an ace.
Poker Hand Rankings
If you’re unfamiliar with the classic poker hand hierarchy, take a look below to see the hands ranks in High Five Poker:
|Royal Flush||Broadway straight (A K Q J 10) in the same suit|
|Straight Flush||Five consecutive cards (9 8 7 6 5) in the same suit|
|Four of a Kind||Four of the same card (Q Q Q Q A)|
|Full House||Three of a kind + one pair (Q Q Q A A)|
|Flush||Five cards in the same suit (2h 6h 9h Kh Ah)|
|Straight||Five consecutive cards (6 5 4 3 2)|
|Three of a Kind||Three of the same card (Q Q Q 2 A)|
|Two Pair||Two pairs of the same card (Q Q A A 2)|
|One Paid||One pair of the same card (Q Q 4 3 2)|
|High Card||No pair, the highest card is rank of hand (A K 4 3 2)|
Playing High Five Poker
Step#1: Mandatory Ante Bet
To begin a hand of High Five Poker, all players present must place a mandatory Ante bet. At this time, players can also choose to place an optional side wager known as the Trips side bet.
Throughout this section, we’ll reference a running example hand to help illustrate how the game’s rules work from the player’s perspective. So going forward, we’ll assume a $5 chip is the Ante bet, and a $5 chip is the Trips side bet.
Step #2: Dealer Distributes Cards
Once all players have placed their Ante bet and the optional Trips side bet if they prefer, the dealer will then distribute seven cards face down to each player, along with seven cards face down to themselves.
Step #3: Fold or Play
Your job now is to examine these seven cards and decide between two courses of action: Fold or Play.
- FOLD: you surrender the hand straight away and forfeit both your Ante bet and Trips side bet to the house.
- PLAY: you’ll need to put up an additional Play bet equal to the amount of your Ante bet. Then, you’ll select the best five-card poker hand created by your seven hole cards while discarding the other two.
For the sake of our running example hand, let’s assume we’ve been dealt a seven-card combination of As Ah Qd Jc 9h 8s 7h, giving us one pair of aces. At this point, we’d elect to put up the Play bet for an additional $5 while holding our best five-card hand (As Ah Qd Jc 9h) and discarding the remaining two cards.
Step #4: Poker Hand Show-Down
When all players have folded or continued by placing the Play bet, now it’s the dealer’s turn to showdown. They’ll turn over their seven hole cards before selecting the best five-card poker hand and discarding the other two cards.
With the dealer’s final hand now revealed, the time has come to compare it to each of the remaining player hands.
Step #5: Dealer Hand to Qualify
In the game of High Five Poker, the dealer must show down a hand equal to one pair of 6’s or better to qualify. When the dealer doesn’t produce one pair of 6s or better, their hand can still qualify when facing a player’s hand equal to a straight or better.
As an example, imagine the dealer shows down one pair of 4s. The dealer’s hand would qualify against a player holding a full house, but when facing a player’s hand that’s less than a straight, the dealer’s hand fails to qualify. Thus, each dealer hand can qualify against some players while failing to qualify against others on every single deal.
Returning to our running example hand, we’ll have the dealer showdown one pair of eights with 8h 8c 4d 3s 2c, which would represent a qualifying hand.
Step #6: Getting Paid
- When the dealer does not qualify, your Ante bet will be paid out at even money, while your Play bet will be returned as a push.
- When the dealer does qualify, but their hand outranks yours, you’ll lose both your Ante bet and Play bet to the house.
- When the dealer does qualify, but their hand ties your hand exactly, both of your bets are returned as a push.
- When the dealer does qualify, but your hand outranks theirs, both your Ante bet and Play bet will be paid out at even money.
In the case of our running example hand, in which we tabled one pair of aces against the dealer’s one pair of 8s, we’d beat a qualified hand to earn even money payouts of $5 each on both our Ante bet and Play bet.
If we change the dealer’s hand to a pair of 5s instead, they fail to qualify, and thus you’d earn an even money payout of $5 on your Ante bet while your Play bet would be returned as a push.
Step #7: Side Bet Payout & Starting Over
Finally, if you opted to place the Trips side bet, and you landed a five-card poker hand equal to three of a kind or better, you’ll earn a bonus payout based on one of the three available pay tables.
Once all winning wagers have been settled and losing bets claimed by the house, the dealer will reshuffle the deck and begin a new hand.
Trips Side Bet
|HAND||TABLE 1||TABLE 2||TABLE 3|
|Five Aces||200 to 1||200 to 1||200 to 1|
|Royal Flush||100 to 1||100 to 1||100 to 1|
|Straight Flush||50 to 1||50 to 1||50 to 1|
|Four of a Kind||40 to 1||40 to 1||40 to 1|
|Full House (Aces Full)||25 to 1||20 to 1||15 to 1|
|Full House (Other)||7 to 1||7 to 1||7 to 1|
|Flush||4 to 1||4 to 1||4 to 1|
|Straight||2 to 1||2 to 1||2 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||1 to 1||1 to 1||1 to 1|
With the inclusion of a semi-wild joker card, you can make an even better hand the royal flush: five aces. When you do, and you have the optional Trips side bet in place, you’ll earn a cool 200 to 1 payout on your money.
Pay Table #2: Most Common
A final note on the Trips side bet: the most commonly used paytable is labeled Table 2 above, and you’re far more likely to be playing according to this structure. When you do, the house edge on this bet stands at 4.81 percent, which isn’t all that great but falls in line with typical table game side bets.
Pay Table #1: Better House Edge
However, if you can locate a game using Table 1, the house edge on the Trips side bet falls to just 2.62 percent, so you should always keep an eye out for High Five Poker games that payout at 25 to 1 when you make aces full.
Pay Table #3: Avoid!
Finally, if you stumble upon a game using Table 3, which pays out just 15 to 1 for aces full, the house edge against you on the Trips side bet jumps up to 7.01 percent – placing it firmly among the “sucker bet” category.
Best Places to Play High Five Poker
Unfortunately for fans of High Five Poker, the game hasn’t managed to catch on in a major way across the casino industry.
Following the game’s debut installation at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, High Five Poker made appearances in several casinos in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington.
United States Casinos
For a list of brick and mortar casino properties that have been known to offer High Five Poker tables, see below:
- Foxwoods Resort Casino – Mashantucket, Connecticut
- The Brass Ass Casino – Cripple Creek, Colorado
- Osage Casino Tulsa – Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Osage Casino Hominy – Hominy, Oklahoma
- Osage Casino Pawhuska – Pawhuska, Oklahoma
- Osage Hotel & Casino Skiatoo – Skiatoo, Oklahoma
- Osage Casino Sand Springs – Sand Springs, Oklahoma
- Osage Hotel & Casino Ponca City – Ponca City, Oklahoma
- Osage Casino Bartlesville – Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Fair warning, however, as some of these venues may no longer offer High Five Poker. When visiting Foxwoods, for example, you’ll find that the game has been removed from the table game area entirely.
As such, be sure to call first and ask the table games manager at your favorite casino whether or not they still run High Five Poker games. That way, you won’t make a trip only to find that the game you’re interested in has vanished.
Online US Casinos
High Five Poker has yet to be adapted for play at online poker sites. This industry is constantly changing, though, so you may see a leading software developer take a shot at licensing the game sometime down the road.
Strategic Considerations for High Five Poker
For a relatively complex hybrid table game, the basic strategy for High Five Poker can be boiled down to a simple binary rule.
Game theory experts agree that the cutoff point for making the Play bet of folding is one pair of 7’s or better. In other words:
- Whenever you hold at least one pair of 7’s, you should always make the additional Play bet.
- When you hold one pair of 6’s or worse, you should always be folding.
By sticking to this simple mandate, you’ll generally be making the most optimal play from the standpoint of probability.
Advanced Strategy System
You’ll have to use your natural card sense to navigate these troubled waters, though, as devising a detailed advanced strategy for these scenarios has proven to be unfeasible. And even if we did have a perfect strategy for playing middle strength one pair hands, the overall effect on the house edge would be negligible at best.
Thus, the best strategy to employ when playing High Five Poker involves:
- Applying the cutoff described above.
- Folding all hands of 6s or worse.
- Placing the Play bet on any hand of 7s or better.
Avoid the Trips Side Bet
As for the game’s optional wager, the Trips side bet carries an overall house edge 4.81 percent. From a purely strategic standpoint, this bet should likely be avoided, as there’s just no need to dabble with another wager when it offers worse odds than the base game.
Consider that of the 154,143,080 possible hand combinations in the game, 124,556,196 of them will fail to produce a win on the Trips side bet. In essence, you’ll lose this bet four out of every five times you put it up, so even with escalating payouts for making strong hands, this represents a losing proposition over the long run.