From Russia With Love (for Poker!)

From Russia With Love (for Poker!)

Russian Poker is an interesting variation of Poker which is offered by many online and land-based casinos. First of all, let’s make it clear that this is not a game where you must try to outsmart your opponents, but rather a typical casino table game where you are playing against the house only.
 
Russian Poker adapts the typical hierarchy of poker hands, with the Royal Flush (A K Q J 10 of the same suit) being the highest possible combination and ace with a king kicker being the lowest combination that counts as a made hand.
 
What makes this game extra interesting is the fact that players can buy a sixth card for their hand, and this makes it possible to get paid for 2 combinations over a single hand. Let’s use an example: you get dealt A K Q J 10 and thus already have a straight. In Russian Poker you could still buy an extra card and hope to make another combination. If the sixth card is a 9, this means that you can now make 2 straights with your cards, namely 1 from A-10 and another from K-9. The only rule for making 2 combinations is that the second combination has to use at least 1 card that isn’t used in the first hand (in the above example, a 9).
 
Another cool thing about the sixth card and double wins rule is that only one of your hands has to beat the dealer in order to get paid twice. Let’s come back to the above example, but this time let’s say the sixth card you bought is 10. You now have a straight from A-10 for your first hand and a pair of 10’s for your second hand. The dealer has a pair of Queens. Your second hand is weaker than the dealers, but since your first hand is stronger you get paid for both combinations.
 
In the normal order of play, participants begin by placing a bet on the Ante field of the playing table. After that the dealer will deal 5 cards to player and 5 cards for themselves. The dealer will also place the last of their 5 cards face up on the table. After your cards are dealt you will have to decide what your next move will be. What to do next depends on what your hand is like:
 
a.    You don’t like your cards at all, there is no pair, high face cards or draw of any kind (flush or straight draw for example). In this case you can simply fold your hand and give up your initial Ante bet. This option is recommended for the hands that hold no potential at all of developing into big combinations and helps you to minimize your losses during a Russian Poker session.
 
b.    The original cards dealt to you already constitute a made hand like a straight or a flush. Your options are to either just play your hand the way it is, by placing a bet that is double your Ante bet in the BET box on the table. However in Russian Poker we recommend you buy a sixth card to try and make a second winning combination as well.
 
c.    Another option is to exchange (draw) some of your cards. This option is used when your initial 5 cards have a pair or only some high face cards amongst them. The price for exchanging any number of cards is the same as your Ante bet. Let’s say your hand is KK 5 6 2 — in this case you would leave the KK and exchange the three low cards you don’t need. This way you can potentially make 3 or even 4 of a kind of kings, or simply get a second pair to go with your kings. Some players will exchange all 5 cards for the price of the Ante if they don’t like their hand, but from a mathematical perspective this isn’t the best idea.
 
Different combinations also have very different payouts and it is important to remember that if the dealer doesn’t have a hand, you will only get your bet back. The minimum hand that the dealer must hold in order for you to get paid according to your combination is AK.
 
The combinations and their payouts are:
 
Royal Flush 100 – 1
Straight Flush 50 – 1
Four of a Kind 20 – 1
Full House 7 – 1
Flush 5 – 1
Straight 4 – 1
Three of a Kind 3 – 1
Two Pair 2 – 1
One Pair 1 – 1
High Card Ace/King 1 – 1
 
One last tip before you try out the game for yourself would be the fact that you can also buy cards for the dealer. This is useful if you make a really strong hand like a flush or better but the dealer has no game (because then your strong hand would count for nothing). You can purchase an extra card for the dealer in hopes that the extra card will help to make a pair and thus get paid as per your hand (of course if the card drawn for the dealer doesn’t make up a pair then you’re still in the same predicament).
 
The cost of buying a card for the dealer is again the same as your Ante bet and the dealer will remove the highest of their 5 cards and replace it with the new card. If the replacement card is the same value as the one removed, the process will be repeated until the new card is different from the card removed.
 
The downside of buying a card for the dealer is that if they don’t make a hand in the process you will lose not only your Ante bet, but also the x2 Ante bet in the BET box and the bet you used to buy the dealer a new card.