How to Play Russian Poker: Rules and Basic Strategy
Russian Poker is one of the most unusual and exciting variants of Poker ever invented.
Although it uses the basic Poker structure and card combination, it is, in fact, quite different.
In Russian Poker, players do not play against each other — they play against the dealer who represents the Casino.
Each player, including the dealer, is dealt with five cards, and the goal is to get a better hand than the dealer.
After the cards have been dealt, the players will decide whether to bet or fold from their positions or 'boxes'.
There can be up to six players at the table; if there are fewer than six, one player can play more than one adjacent box. If a player plays more than two boxes, he/she must play the third and other subsequent boxes blind.
Playing against the house means that you don't need sneaky tricks and bluffs to win. You need to rely on strategy, timing, and the willingness to take risks.
Russian Poker is mostly played in land-based Casinos, but it is safe to say the majority of online Casinos will include its online version soon enough as it is quickly gaining popularity in virtual gaming rooms as well.
For example, you can play Russian Poker for free and for real money on this website. Register a free gaming account and open the game to access the demo and play with a free bankroll.
In this article, we will talk about the main characteristics and features of Russian Poker, and explain how to play the game.
You also get some precious insights so to learn the best Russian Poker strategy and get more chances to win when you play online!
The Game's Setup
Before each hand is played, the players need to place an ante bet in a designated area from their positions.
The bet will depend on the number of boxes players occupy.
One player can play from more than one box, so you can have only two players at the table playing two or three boxes each.
When a player plays two boxes, the bet is considered 'open', whereas playing three or more boxes requires playing them 'blind'.
The minimum bet and the maximum payout are predefined at each table, and usually there is no maximum bet. Once the mandatory ante bet is made, the player is dealt five cards; soon after that, the dealer gets his cards and the fun begins.
The goal is to bet on whether or not you have a stronger hand than the dealer. You can get a stronger hand with the help of some special features we will discuss in subsequent paragraphs, but the crucial thing is the fact that the dealer needs at least an Ace-King hand to qualify for the game.
If the player's hand is better than the dealer's after all is set and done, the player gets paid according to the paytable and the size of his/her bet. If the dealer does not qualify, you will get nothing and lose your ante bet.
While all the cards are dealt face down, the dealer's last card is revealed, which gives an important starting point for devising a playing strategy.
After the player has checked his cards, he/she has four options to choose from, which brings us to the main characteristics and features of Russian Poker.
The Main Basic and Characteristics of Russian Poker
First, the player can fold the box and lose the ante bet.
The second option for the player after being dealt the hand is to bet on that hand with an amount that must be exactly twice the amount of that box's ante.
The third option is one of the things that make Russian Poker so incredible.
The player can buy a sixth card.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The player can be dealt an extra card from the 52-card deck used to play Russian Poker for a 'small' price. That price equals the amount of the ante for the box.
What follows next is the player's decision which can be to move on and place a bet valued at twice the amount of the original ante of that box, or to fold and lose both the original ante and the sum he/she has paid for the sixth card.
Having a sixth card allows the player to have two separately calculated winning combinations at the same time.
So if you have a combination of 10-J-Q-K-A in the first deal, and then decide to get a 6th card and receive another Q, instead of one straight, you will be looking at two straights paid according to the paytable.
The fourth option is equally as extraordinary as the third one and involves exchanging the cards.
The player can exchange as many cards as he/she wants until the deck is exhausted. The exchange comes with a fee that is equal to 1 Ante, and each successive replacement increases it by 1 Ante.
Finally, there is yet another scenario to consider.
If the player has a hand of three-of-a-kind or better, he/she can place an insurance bet that costs at least the amount of the ante bet but no more than half of the potential payout.
With this insurance, the player is safe if the dealer fails to qualify and can retain up to 50% of the possible payout.
Now, let's say that the dealer does not qualify. The insured players will receive their insurance money, while the others can opt to pay for the exchange of the dealer's card.
Then the dealer will discard his highest card and draw a new card from the deck to replace it and hopefully qualify. If the dealer still doesn't qualify, the Casino returns the bet and pays out 1:1 for the ante.
Best Russian Poker Strategy for Beginners
If you are a beginner at Russian Poker, don't fret — we've got you covered with useful sets of tips and strategies.
First, if you have a combination of five cards, like the royal flush or straight flush, buy the sixth card and shoot for the top.
Second, if you have a pair in the opening game, buy the 6th card or change the remaining three — you never know what might turn up.
Furthermore, if you have a draw-hand, which is a combination of four cards, get the 6th card or change the last two, especially if the initial combination is a straight-flush.
Last but not least, know when to fold. You don't want to be out there on a wild goose chase. Regroup and wait for the next hand.
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