The original trademark application for a hybrid table game concept known as Tequila Poker was filed in 2004 by a small casino game design firm called Alma Gaming LLC.
Based in Delaware, the Alma Gaming company also released Casino Backgammon in 2008.
Overview of the Game
The concept of Tequila Poker is quite novel, combining two true classic casino games in blackjack and poker to create an interactive gameplay experience. Players begin with four cards, before drawing two more from the deck. The game’s pivotal player decision is whether or not to use a traditional poker hand scoring system, based on the best five-card poker hand, or a unique blackjack scoring system which uses that game’s point totals to calculate the value of the highest five cards.
Each game within the game uses its own unique paytable, and in this way, Tequila Poker is able to offer a refreshing take on both blackjack and poker. Players are challenged to assess the relative worth of their four cards starting hand based on not one but two scoring systems, and the fun of Tequila poker comes in when the cards align to give you two strong hands in both games. At that point, it’s all based on your card sense and feel for the game on how to proceed.
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Debut in Casinos
Tequila Poker made its brick and mortar casino debut in 2005 at the Hard Rock Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Despite offering a genuinely innovative new experience for casino visitors, however, Alma Gaming was unable to secure further installations in the live arena.
Beginnings of the Online Version
Fortunately for fans of Tequila Poker, the company did arrange a licensing agreement with leading online casino software developer Playtech in 2006. Per the arrangement, Playtech designed a virtual version of Tequila Poker which is compatible with its wider online casino game network.
At the time, Playtech CEO Avigur Zmora commented on the game’s launch:
“Tequila Poker is another great example of Playtech’s commitment to the success of their licensees. We are happy to be able to increase the frequency of casino games releases, and even more so when we are able to release exclusive games for the sole use of our licensees.
This new addition to our casino games portfolio is expected to attract both existing and prospective players. The benefit is two-fold – a new exciting game and a great marketing tool bound to attract many new players due to its exclusivity.”
Today, Tequila Poker can be enjoyed on any of the dozens of Playtech powered casinos serving customers all around the world.
This page was written to provide a thorough introduction to the game of Tequila Poker. We’ll begin with a detailed walkthrough of the rules and gameplay procedures, followed by a guide to the world of Playtech powered online casinos, and finally, a section devoted to proper strategy to help you improve your skills.
Rules and How to Play
The Basics of the Game
The game of Tequila Poker is played using a standard 52 card deck of playing cards. A single deck will be used, and reshuffled upon completion of each hand, rather than the multiple deck shoe favored by other table games.
The objective of the game depends on which one of two possible wagers you choose: the Tequila Poker bet or the High Tequila bet. On the Tequila Poker bet, the objective is to form the highest five card poker hand, while the High Tequila bet is based on the combined “point” total of your highest five cards.
Playing the Tequila Poker Bet
Accordingly, the cards in Tequila Poker will hold two distinct values during a hand, based on which of these two bets you choose.
When playing the Tequila Poker bet, cards will hold their usual poker values, so 2s will be the lowest rank and Aces the highest, with suits mattering in the case of a flush.
For readers who haven’t hit the poker tables in a long while, take a look below to jog your memory on how poker hands are ranked using the traditional hand hierarchy:
|Poker Hand Hierarchy Table|
|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 Pair||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 the High Tequila Bet
When playing the High Tequila bet, cards will be assigned the point values used in standard blackjack, so 2s through 9s are valued at their numerical rank, 10s and face cards (Js, Qs, and Ks) are valued at 10, and Aces are valued at 11. In this game, high point totals are best, so Aces are always valued at 11, and not 1 or 11 as in blackjack.
How to Play Tequila Poker
Step #1: Place an Ante Bet
To begin a hand, players must put up a mandatory Ante bet, before receiving four cards face down from the dealer. You can examine your own “hole” cards of course, but don’t try to share any information about your hand with fellow players.
Going forward, we’ll use a running example hand to help illustrate key gameplay concepts from the player’s perspective. So imagine that we’ve put up a $5 chip for the Ante bet, before receiving the Qh Jd 10h 9h from the dealer.
Step #2: The Player Decides to Fold or Bet
After taking a peek at your four cards starting hand, the game’s first and only player decision point occurs: Fold, make the Tequila Poker bet, or make the High Tequila bet.
By folding, you simply surrender your Ante bet to the house without any further fight.
By making the Tequila Poker bet, you choose to play a poker based game, in which the objective is to complete the best possible five card poker hand following the subsequent two card draw. In this case, you’ll have to put up an additional Tequila Poker bet equal to the size of your Ante bet.
By making the High Tequila bet, you choose to play a blackjack scoring based game, in which the objective is to hold the highest possible point total using the blackjack card value system. The minimum point total needed to earn a payout is 46, while the maximum is 54. Once again, this will require an additional High Tequila bet in the amount of your Ante bet.
In either case, you’ll be using only the best five cards out of your total six card hand (four cards starting hand and two card draw).
In the running example hand, we actually have a tough choice to make. In terms of the Tequila Poker bet, our Qh Jd 10h 9h provides an open-ended straight draw (needing a King or an 8 to complete the straight), as well as three hearts to a flush, so we have a decent poker hand to work with.
But for the High Tequila bet, our current point total of 39 is almost at the 46 point threshold needed to win a payout. If we land a 10 value card or an Ace among the next two cards, we could hit either 49 or 50 points, respectively.
We’ll go ahead and take a chance on the High Tequila bet, this time, putting up an additional $5 wager, and hoping to hit more high cards to maximize our point total. But as you’ll discover in the strategy section, making these close calls provides the game’s skill element.
For the most part, however, you’ll have clear and straightforward decisions, with low point total hands or made poker hands (2 4 4 6 or 9 9 9 5) being played per the Tequila Poker bet, and non-poker hand high point totals (K 10 9 8 or A K 10 9) being played per the High Tequila bet.
Step #3: The Dealer Hands Out 2 More Cards
After each player has made their decision, either folding or making one of the two primary bets, the dealer will then deliver two more cards face down to each player.
For the running example hand, the dealer slides us the Ah and Kh. We can only use the top five cards out of the six, so we’re playing the A K Q J 10 for 51 points (11 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 51).
Step #4: Cards are Revealed to Determine the Score
Now comes the showdown, so you’ll simply turn your cards over and use the following scoring systems and pay tables* to settle the score:
*You’ll receive even money on your Ante bet for winning the hand, and these pay tables only apply to the subsequent Tequila Poker or High Tequila bets
|Tequila Poker Pay Table|
|Royal Flush||200 to 1|
|Straight Flush||50 to 1|
|Four of a Kind||15 to 1|
|Full House||8 to 1|
|Flush||7 to 1|
|Straight||5 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||3 to 1|
|Two Pair||2 to 1|
|One Pair of Aces||1 to 1|
As you can see, the minimum hand needed to earn a payout on the Tequila Poker bet is one pair of aces, which is good for an even money reward. After that, the poker hands pay out on an escalating basis according to strength, with players earning a whopping 200 to 1 reward for landing a royal flush.
|High Tequila Pay Table|
|54||200 to 1|
|53||15 to 1|
|52||7 to 1|
|51||4 to 1|
|50||3 to 1|
|49||2 to 1|
|46 to 48||1 to 1|
|45 or Less||Loss|
For the High Tequila pay table, payouts begin at 46 through 48 points, with an even money reward. Once again, the more points you can land, the higher the payout will be, all the way up to the 200 to 1 payout for landing 54 points.
Sharp poker players will note that this coveted 54 point total can only be achieved by landing four aces (11 points each) combined with a 10 point card (10s, Js, Qs, or Ks). Next, up, the 53 point total can be achieved by landing three Aces combined with two 10 value cards, or four aces and a 9.
Returning to the running example hand, let’s take a look at how our High Tequila bet worked out first. We played a combination of A K Q J 10 for a total of 51 points. That’s good for a 4 to 1 payout on our $5 wager or a $20 profit. We also win even money on our $5 Ante bet, so all told we wagered $10 and profited $25 on this hand.
But what if we had decided to take the Tequila Poker bet option back at the beginning, rather than the High Tequila bet? In this case, our Qh Jd 10h 9h starting hand was improved by the Ah and Kh draws, and we improved to an ace high flush as our best five card poker hand (Ah Kh Qh 10h 9h).
The payout for making a flush stands at 7 to 1, so we’d earn a profit of $35 on this fortunate draw when playing the Tequila Poker bet (while winning another $5 at even money on the Ante bet). Had the Ace and the King been another suit, and not hearts, we’d still improve to the Broadway straight with (A K Q J 10). The payout for landing a straight is 5 to 1, so we’d win $25 profit on the Tequila Poker bet under that particular run out.
Step #5: Restart the Game
After the dealer has settled all bets, they’ll collect the cards, reshuffle the deck, and begin the next hand.
Best Places to Play Tequila Poker
Presence in Brick and Mortar Casinos
When it comes to brick and mortar casinos, Tequila Poker’s time has come and gone, and the game appears to have faded into the sunset suffered by so many hybrid table games.
Following its debut at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Tequila Poker was approved for play throughout the state of Nevada. Unfortunately, live players never developed a taste for the unique gameplay and twofold scoring system, so additional installations were never secured.
As of today, not a single brick and mortar casino property carrying the game can be located, despite extensive searching. Considering the highly competitive nature of the live casino table game design industry, it’s quite likely that the small Alma Gaming company was simply unable to put the marketing muscle behind Tequila Poker that the game needed to succeed.
Play the Game in Online Casinos
In 2006, however, Alma Gaming forged a partnership major online casino software developer Playtech, which agreed to design a virtual version of Tequila Poker and integrate the game within its worldwide network of internet based casinos.
As a proprietary product of Playtech, the online version of Tequila Poker can only be played through internet casino platforms which run the company’s software suite.
Fortunately for fans of Tequila Poker, since 1999 the Playtech brand has been built into a global leader in the online casino software industry, and today many of the top destinations for online gamblers all over the world rely on Playtech to power their gaming engines.
Reputable and Reliable Casinos to Play
With so many Playtech affiliated online casinos out there, it can be tough to wade through what seems to be hundreds of choices. To help make things a bit easier, sourcing reviews directly from the player base can be a great way to identify the most reputable and reliable sites.
We’ve compiled the top 50 casino brands – based on player generated reviews – which run Playtech software to power their games, including Tequila Poker:
- 21Nova Casino
- 50 Stars Casino
- AceKingdom Casino
- African Palace Playtech Casino
- Bellini Casino
- Betfair Casino
- BetFred Casino
- BGO Casino
- Boyle Casino
- Carnival Casino
- Casino King Casino
- Casino Las Vegas
- Casino Tropez
- CasinoCom Bonus
- Club 777 Casino
- Club Dice Casino
- Coral Casino
- Eurogrand Casino
- Europa Casino
- EuropaPlay Casino
- Fly Casino
- Genting Casino
- Grand Reef Casino
- Jackpot 24/7 Casino
- Magic Box Casino
- Mansion Casino
- Noble Casino
- Omni Casino
- Paddy Power Casino
- RedLuck Casino
- Slots Heaven Casino
- Slots Million Casino
- Titan Casino
- Titanbet UK Casino
- Vegas Red Casino
- Vernons Casino
- William Hill Casino
- Winner Casino
- WinnerClub Casino
Strategic Considerations for Tequila Poker
Despite including two separate games under one umbrella – the High Tequila blackjack style bet, and the Tequila Poker bet based on poker hands – the strategy behind Tequila Poker isn’t all that complicated.
The Optimal Strategy
According to Michael Shackleford, the esteemed casino game analyst and crack mathematician who runs the world famous Wizard of Odds website, an exact optimal strategy has been determined thanks to computer modeling. But as Shackleford observes, this optimal strategy for Tequila Poker resembles that of video poker, in that the sheer number of variables which crop up from hand to hand tends to overcomplicate the matter.
Thankfully, Shackleford was kind enough to boil his perfect strategy and its dozens of rules into a fitting two part set of rules governing how to approach Fold / Bet dynamic in Tequila Poker.
Identify the Best Type of Bet
According to the Wizard, players should use the following guidelines when deciding which bet to make:
- When holding any one pair, or a four card draw to any flush or straight (inside or outside), you should make the Tequila Poker bet
- When holding any four card combination in which your highest three cards combine to form a 28 point total or higher (10 10 6 2 or better), you should make the High Tequila bet
Exceptions to the Guidelines
But what about situations in which you hold four cards that satisfy both criteria listed above?
Let’s say you’ve been dealt the Kc Qc 8c 7c. This combination serves as a four card flush draw, good enough to make the Tequila Poker bet, but you also hold a 35 point total – well above the 28 point threshold needed to make the High Tequila bet.
When the cards inevitably fall in the right order to create one of these close calls, Shackleford says “you’re on your own.” What he really means is, proper strategy dictates evaluating both of the pay tables in play, assessing your relative odds of completing either the Tequila Poker or High Tequila hands, and proceeding with the most favorable draw.
Learn Through an Example
So let’s take a look at the Kc Qc 8c 7c hand from the above example and determine which bet would represent the most profitable play.
For the Tequila Poker bet, we’d be attempting to complete a club flush, needing any of the nine remaining clubs in the deck, and with two cards left to come. Of course, we could make two pairs by catching a lucky two-card draw, but for the sake of clarity, we’ll limit this example to the possibility of landing the best possible hand, which is a flush in this case.
Calculate Your Odds
As any poker player can tell you, calculating your odds of catching a draw in this type of scenario is actually rather easy: multiply your outs (9) by 2, then add 2 to arrive at your percentage chance of landing the draw. In this case, we have about a 20 (9 x 2 + 2 = 20) percent shot of hitting a club – but that’s for one card, and we get two more. Thus, we’d take the 20 percent chance and double it, giving us right around a 40 percent shot of completing our flush draw.
The Tequila Poker Bet Payout
The payout for making a flush on the Tequila Poker bet is 7 to 1 on your money, so a $10 wager here will produce a $70 profit roughly four times out of every 10 times you run through this scenario. But on those other six occasions, we’ll miss the flush and make no hand at all, causing us to lose our bets.
The High Tequila Bet Payout
As for the High Tequila bet, we currently hold a total of 35 points (10 + 10 + 8 + 7 = 35), so any combination of two cards totaling 11 or more will qualify us for the minimum even money payout. And higher two-card totals will produce slightly better payouts.
But we need to land a 7 to 1 payout in order to match the flush draw possibility offered by the Tequila Poker bet, so, in reality, we’re shooting for a 52 point total (or higher). That means we need a two card draw which totals 17 points or higher in order to land our draw on the High Tequila bet.
Use Your Own Sense of Risk
Calculating your odds, in this case, isn’t as simple as the poker shorthand we used earlier, but in general terms, we would need to land combinations like 8 9, 7 10, 6 A, or a 7 combined with any face card to hit the magic 52 point total. And of course, we can always hit something like a 10 point card and an 8 or a 9 to make an even higher total.
With 10 more face cards left in the deck (the Kc and Qc are already in our hand), along with four aces, four 9s, and three 8s (one in our hand), the deck stacks up favorably for us to land a high enough point total to proceed. The chances of missing out entirely and landing two cards are pretty low, so more often than not, we’ll manage to at least win something on the High Tequila bet under this scenario.
Of course, this is what Shackleford meant when he said players are “on their own” when it comes to Tequila Poker strategy. It’s all up to your own sense of risk and gamble whether or not to chase the flush in this situation, or to look for a high point total.
Final Thoughts on the Game
When using the rough strategy provided by Shackleford, the house edge incurred on Tequila Poker stands at 4.21 percent. Astute observers will note that this is actually on the higher side of the table game spectrum, but considering the unique gameplay experience offered, the game remains reasonable in terms of relative value.