High Five Poker

High Five Poker logoThe 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 a number of 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 page was written with you in mind.

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 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 main game pages to study up before taking on this hybrid.

Game Overview

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 in order to improve their hand. In this game, however, as is the case 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 will be played as an ace.

Poker Hand Rankings

If you’re unfamiliar with the classic poker hand hierarchy, take a look below to see how hands are ranked in High Five Poker:

HAND DESCRIPTION
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 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 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, 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 has been put up for the Ante bet, along with a $5 chip for 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 simply 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 exactly 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 either folded or continued by placing the Play bet, now it’s the dealer’s turn to show down. 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 in order to qualify. On occasions when the dealer doesn’t produce one pair of 6s or better, their hand can still qualify when facing a player hand equal to a straight or better.

As an example, imagine the dealer shows down one pair of 4s. Against a player holding a full house, the dealer’s hand would qualify, but when facing a player hand 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 will be 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 wagers 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
All Other Loss Loss Loss

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 pay table 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

If you can locate a game using Table 1, however, 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 which pay out 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 all the way up to 7.01 percent – placing it firmly among the “sucker bet” category.

Best Places to Play High Five Poker

Recommended iconUnfortunately 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 the states of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington.

United States Casinos

For a list of brick and mortar casino properties which 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

When it comes to online casinos, High Five Poker has yet to be adapted for play over the internet. This industry is always 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

Betting Strategy iconFor 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 be making the additional Play bet.
  • When you hold one pair of 6’s or worse, you should always be folding.

By sticking to this simple dictum, you’ll generally be making the most optimal play from the standpoint of probability.

Advanced Strategy System

A few of the more mathematically inclined casino game analysts, such as Michael Shackleford of the Wizard of Odds, have correctly deduced that an even better strategy system can be devised to tackle the game’s trickiest spots: when you hold one pair of 6’s, 7’s, or 8’s. According to Shackleford’s page on High Five Poker, there’s actually several different options for how to play these hands correctly, but with variables like discards, kickers, and suits tend to make things overly complicated.

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 nothing more than applying cutoff described above, folding all hands of 6s or worse, and placing the Play bet on any hand of 7s or better.

Avoid the Trips Side Bet

Caution iconAs 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.