What is Four Card Poker? Rules & Basic Strategy

What is Four Card Poker? Rules & Basic Strategy

Four Card Poker is a poker game that you’ll often find on the floor of a casino. You’ll find Four Card Poker in the gaming pit, along with related games like Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Let It Ride.

If you’re familiar with the rules of poker, you’ll quickly grasp the rules of this game.

Keep in mind, however, that Four Card Poker pits all players against the house, and is not the same game that you play in the proper poker room of a casino (which pits players against other players). Four Card Poker belongs in the same category of casino games as blackjack, roulette, craps, and other games where you compete against the house.

Let’s dive into the rules and basic strategy of Four Card Poker:

How To Play Four Card Poker

As the name implies, Four Card Poker is a card game where each player tries to make the best four-card poker hand according to standard poker hand rankings.

In each hand, all players get five cards, while the dealer gets five cards face down and a sixth card face up. If a player’s best possible four-card hand beats the dealer’s hand, that player wins.

Let’s look at the hand rankings for this game:

4-Card Poker Ranking of Hands (Lowest to Highest)

The Ante Bet and The Aces Up Bet

Sit down at a Four Card Poker table, and you’ll see a setup that looks something like this:

What is Four Card Poker? Rules & Basic Strategy

Image courtesy SG Digitial

You can place two possible bets before each hand, an ante bet and an Aces Up bet. You must place at least one or the other, and you can bet both in the same hand.

The Ante Bet

When you’ve placed your bets, you’re dealt five cards. The dealer gets five cards face down and one card face up card.

At that point you have the option to either fold or play, placing an additional bet of 1-3x your ante bet. If you place the play wager, the dealer turns over their five down cards. If the player folds, the ante bet is taken by the dealer, and the hand is over for that player.

Both the player and the dealer make the best possible four-card poker hand. If the player’s cards can make a better four-card hand than the dealer, the player wins.

If you win, you get paid even money on the ante bet and the play bet. The ante bet is also eligible for a premium hand bonus.

A typical ante bet bonus table looks something like this:

  • Three-of-a-Kind: 2-to-1
  • Straight Flush: 20-to-1
  • Four-of-a-Kind: 25-to-1

The Aces Up Bet

The aces up side bet also pays even money, and you win that bet if you make a pair of aces. If you make a better hand than a pair of aces, you earn an automatic bonus and win more money, based on the Aces Up bonus payout table for the game you’re in.

A typical Aces Up bonus pay table looks like this:

  • Pair of Aces: 1-to-1
  • Two Pair: 3-to-1
  • Straight: 4-to-1
  • Flush: 5-to-1
  • Three-of-a-Kind: 8-to-1
  • Straight Flush: 40-to-1
  • Four-of-a-Kind: 50-to-1

While the ante wager allows you to play the game with somewhat of a strategy, the Aces Up wager pretty much entirely relies on luck. However, the Aces Up bet offers the opportunity to win a massive return on a single hand.

If the player’s hand can’t make at least a pair of aces, the Aces Up bet is lost.

If you place the Aces Up bet and make a pair of aces or better, you win the bet no matter what the dealer’s hand. If you make a hand that qualifies for the Aces Up bonus pay table, you win the correlating bonus even if the dealer makes a better hand.

The Progressive Jackpot Wager

Some casinos offer a progressive wager on casino poker games, all of which link to the same progressive jackpot. The progressive wager is usually a $1 side bet that correlates to a payout table that looks something like this:

  • Royal Flush: 100% of progressive jackpot
  • Straight Flush: 10% of progressive jackpot
  • Four-of-a-Kind: $300
  • Full House: $50
  • Flush: $40
  • Straight: $30
  • Three-of-a-Kind: $9

Many casinos that offer the progressive wager also offer an envy bonus, in which you win some amount of money if any player at the table makes a Royal Flush or a straight flush.

Four Card Poker Strategy

In terms of strategy, you can keep your approach to Four Card Poker pretty simple.

For the ante bet, you win based on the strength of your hand versus the dealer’s hand. The player’s strategy for the ante bet revolves primarily around evaluating your own hand, and also factoring in the dealer’s up card.

If you want to keep it straightforward, you can base your ante bet strategy almost entirely around the strength of your own hand. A basic strategy looks like this:

  • Play 3x your ante bet w/ a pair of tens of better
  • Play 1x your ante bet w/ a pair of nines or worse
  • Fold if you can’t make at least one pair

If you want to add an extra layer to your strategy, you can include the dealer’s face-up card in your evaluation of your ante bet strategy.

For instance, if you have a pair of jacks, queens, or kings, only bet 3x the ante if the dealer’s up card is lower than your pair. If the dealer’s up card is higher than your pair (i.e. the dealer is showing an ace and you have a pair of queens), consider wagering 1-2x the ante.

The Aces Up bet and the progressive bet are entirely based on luck, so keep that in mind before you start playing.

Final Thoughts On Four Card Poker

Like all casino table games, Four Card Poker gives the house a mathematical edge over the player, even if you play an optimal strategy.

The house edge in Four Card Poker comes from the dealer getting six cards to your five, and the dealer automatically winning when you fold.

Four Card Poker and other casino card games can be fun and entertaining, but keep in mind the player always loses in the long run.

The fundamental difference between casino card games (Four Card Poker, Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Hold’em) and the player vs. player version of poker is that true poker can be profitable in the long run.

If you study poker (using the training resources offered by a site like ours here at Upswing Poker), you can develop an edge over your fellow players and win money. Casino card games might have the word “poker” in the game name, but these games are not beatable or profitable in the long run.

Check out our article on Three Card Poker here:

How to Play Three-Card Poker (Rules & Basic Strategy)

Home > What is Four Card Poker? Rules & Basic Strategy
Home > What is Four Card Poker? Rules & Basic Strategy
About the Author
Geoffrey Fisk

Geoffrey Fisk

Freelance writer and poker player based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Put Your Skills to the Test with Quick Poker Quizzes!