How to play
This is not a poker game in the usual sense, but a casino game based on poker hands in which players play against the house. We do not know exactly where and when it was invented, but it first appeared in Russia in the early 1990’s, soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At this time there were many newly rich Russian gamblers, and casino managers were naturally eager to give them VIP status and to provide them with every possible encouragement to play, including new games.
In this context, Russian Poker was developed. The basic idea is that the player places an ante, is dealt five cards, and decides whether to bet on his hand being better than the dealer’s. The dealer needs to qualify with a hand of Ace-King or better, otherwise all bets are cancelled. If the dealer qualifies, the player is paid according to a fixed scale of payouts if his hand is better than the dealer’s or loses his bet if his hand is worse than the dealer’s. There are options for the player to stake extra money to exchange cards or buy an extra card or insure against the dealer failing to qualify. This game has the unusual feature that a player who collects two poker combinations within a hand can be paid for both of them.
Russian Poker is played at a table with a position for the dealer and six player positions or ‘boxes’. The dealer plays for the house and there can be up to six players at the table. If there are fewer than six players a player is allowed to play more than one adjacent box, but anyone playing more than two boxes must play the third and subsequent boxes ‘blind‘. It is not necessary for all the boxes to be played. So for example a table could have four players each playing one box, or just two players playing three and two boxes, or any other combination.
A single standard 52-card pack is used.
If the dealer qualifies with at least Ace-King and the player’s hand is better than the dealer’s, the player wins and the house pays out according to the size of the player’s bet using the following table of odds.
|Player’s Hand||Payout on bet|
|Four of a Kind||20:1|
|Three of a Kind||3:1|
If the player has six cards, any set of five cards can be used to make a hand.
If a player can make two different hands from his five or six cards, both are paid. Different means that there must be at least one card in each 2-card, 3-card, 4-card or 5-card combination which is not used in the other combination. Kickers are ignored for this purpose, so two combinations are possible in a 5-card hand. Not more than two combinations will be paid for in a single hand. The possible cases of two combinations are as follows.
|Combinations||Total payout||Example Hand|
|Royal Flush + Straight Flush||150:1||A K Q J 10 9|
|Royal Flush + Flush||105:1||A K Q J 10 7|
|Royal Flush + Straight||104:1||A K Q J 10 K|
|Straight Flush + Straight Flush||100:1||109 8 7 6 5|
|Straight Flush + Flush||55:1||Q 7 6 5 4 3|
|Straight Flush + Straight||54:1||J 10 9 8 7 6|
|Straight Flush + Ace-King||51:1||5 4 3 2 A K|
|Four of a Kind + Full House||27:1||6 6 6 6 J J|
|Four of a Kind + Ace-King||21:1||K K K K A|
|Full House + Full House||14:1||8 8 8 3 3 3|
|Full House + Ace-King||8:1||7 7 7 K K A|
|Flush + Flush||10:1||K Q 9 7 6 3|
|Flush + Straight||9:1||J 9 7 6 5 8|
|Flush + One Pair||6:1||A 10 8 7 2 7|
|Flush + Ace-King||6:1||K J 8 5 3 A|
|Straight + Straight||8:1||8 7 6 5 4 5|
|Straight + Ace-King||5:1||5 4 3 2 A K|
|Three of a Kind + Ace-King||4:1||9 9 9 A K|
|Two Pair + Two Pair||4:1||Q Q 6 6 3 3|
|Two Pair + Ace-King||3:1||A A J J K|
|One Pair + Ace-King||2:1|