3 Ways to Be a Better Mississippi Stud Poker Player

Hand Holding Poker Cards, Casino Colored Chips, Mississippi Stud Poker Logo
One of the more volatile table games ever devised, Mississippi Stud is a hybrid of traditional Five-Card Stud played against the dealer rather than other players.

At first glance, Mississippi Stud seems to be quite simple. Players place a mandatory ante bet to kick off the hand, then they take two cards at random. From there, the goal is to decide between paying a “third street” bet in exchange for a third card, followed by fourth street and fifth street bets to complete your five-card poker hand.

The standard hierarchy of poker hand rankings is used and hands are scored against the pay table below.

Mississippi Stud Poker Pay Table

HAND PAYS
Royal flush 500 to 1
Straight flush 100 to 1
Four of a kind 40 to 1
Full house 10 to 1
Flush 6 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three of a kind 3 to 1
Two pair 2 to 1
One pair (Js or better) 1 to 1
One pair (6s – 10s) Push
All other Loss

But things get tricky… On all three of the street bets, players have multiple options to choose from. You can fold to avoid further damage, or you can size the street bets in either 1x, 2x, or 3x multiples of your original ante bet.

When you do, you’ll be looking to improve your skills and strategy knowledge ASAP. After all, in a game like Mississippi Stud that challenges players to three decision points on every deal, knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em is what separates the sharps from the suckers.

To help you become the best Mississippi Stud player you can be, I’ve put together the following list of three ways anybody can bring their game to the next level.

1 – Master Mississippi Stud’s Basic Strategy

Every table game which allows players to make decisions and act on their hand is beholden to a basic strategy.

And while the name might suggest simplicity, there’s nothing at all “basic” about these guides to optimal decision making. Gamblers who play blackjack have used supercomputers to crunch the numbers since the 1960s, seeking the most mathematically profitable play for every possible player total vs. dealer up card scenario the game can create.

Mississippi Stud hasn’t been around nearly that long, but savvy players know that a 52-card deck and binary player decisions (fold or bet) make it possible to develop a similar basic strategy.

In other words, for every possible combination of cards you can hold, and the inherent probabilities of making a payable hand those combos create, one decision will always offer the highest expected return over the long run.

Hands Holding Onto Poker Cards Stack to the Side

You may lose the hand you’re playing right now while applying basic strategy, but when you use it consistently over a lifetime of Mississippi Stud sessions, you’ll wind up winning more (or losing less) than the next guy playing by gut instinct alone.

Take a look below to find basic strategy guidelines for the great game of Mississippi Stud:

Key

  • “High” card = Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. All high cards are valued at 2 “points” using this specialized system
  • “Middle” card = 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s. All middle cards are valued at 1 point
  • “Low” card = are 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s. All low cards are valued at 0 points

With Two Cards

  • Bet 3x on 3rd street with any pair
  • Bet 1x on 3rd street with any hand valued at 2 points or higher (one high card; two middle cards)
  • Bet 1x on 3rd street with exactly 5-6 suited
  • Fold everything else

With Three Cards

  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any payable hand (one pair of 6s or better)
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any Royal Flush draw
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing zero gaps AND ranked 5-6-7 or better
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing one gap AND at least one high card
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing two gaps AND at least two high cards
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any other three suited cards
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any low pair (5s or worse)
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any hand worth at least 3 points
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any straight draw containing zero gaps AND ranked 4-5-6 or better
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any straight draw containing one gap AND two middle cards
  • Fold everything else

With Four Cards

  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any payable hand
  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any four-card flush draw
  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any four-card open-ended straight draw ranked 8-high or better (5-6-7-8, 10-J-Q-K, etc.)
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any other straight draw
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any low pair
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any hand worth at least 4 points
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with three middle cards AND a previous bet of 3x made on any earlier street
  • Fold everything else

As you can see, the strategy tips start off with a fairly “tight” approach, which is poker-speak for conservative. When you only have two cards to work with, the only time to be betting the 3x wager on third street is when you hold a pair. From there, one high card alone is good enough to bet 1x, as are two middle cards, along with the 5-6 suited combo.

Other than that, you should be folding from the get-go on all other hands.

This can seem counterintuitive at first, but as the old-time poker pros are prone to saying, “tight is right” in this game.

From there, the subsequent streets are a little tougher to navigate. But in a nutshell, you’ll be firing away with the big 3x bets whenever you’ve made payable hands or draws to the topline “jackpot” hands like a royal flush or straight flush.

When you utilize these basic strategy tips, the casino house edge on Mississippi Stud comes to 4.91%. That may seem a tad high, and it technically is when compared to similarly designed table games.

But most analysts who study Mississippi Stud point to the game’s multiple betting points to judge the game by a different metric, element of risk. In this case, Mississippi Stud’s element of risk is 1.37%, which is about half as risky as hybrid table game relatives like Let It Ride (2.85%) and Caribbean Stud (2.56%).

2 – Fold Away Small Bets While Waiting for Big Hands

According to the game’s leading strategy theorists, folks using a perfect basic strategy should find themselves folding on third street approximately 31.07% of the time.

Woman Holding Out to Ace Poker Cards

You’ll make the third street bet before folding on fourth street another 7.67% of hands.

And you’ll fire two bets on third and fourth streets, only to fold fifth street when you miss everything on 4.85% of hands.

All told, you should be folding without a showdown right around 43.50% of the time.

This can be too much to bear for action-junkies that just like to bet and see what happens, but basic strategy’s mathematical foundations make things clear.

If you want to maximize the rewards reaped from your winning hands, while minimizing the damage inflicted by losers, taking advantage of basic strategy’s tight design is the only way to play.

3 – Practice for Free Until You’re Playing Every Hand Perfectly

It’s one thing to read about basic strategy guidance on a page like this, but it’s a different beast altogether attempting to put those tips into play at the table, especially with real money on the line.

To make that task much easier, dial up this handy Mississippi Stud training tool to test your knowledge without parting ways with a single penny.

The trainer will let you know when you’ve made a basic strategy error, while keeping a running tally of your wins, losses, and accuracy rates.

Keep practicing until your perfect your Mississippi Stud Poker strategy, then move forward to playing real money poker games.

Conclusion

Mississippi Stud is one of the more devilishly designed table games of all time. Players get to have a direct impact on the hand, not only once, but three times before it’s all said and done. You can chase draws, modulating your bets to control the risk while you do, and even fold when the uphill climb to a winner becomes too steep.

But, because most players don’t like the idea of folding without a fight, Mississippi Stud is typically played in one of two ways—expertly or awful. Mistakes tend to compound themselves in this game, turning a small $5 investment into a big $50 loss on the turn of just five cards. If you’ve made it this far, you’re fully prepared to minimize the mistakes, while maximizing the house’s punishment when you hold the goods.