In my opinion, Mississippi Stud (MS) is the most vulnerable proprietary game or side bet with widespread placement in casinos today. The multitude of dangers that MS poses for casino surveillance and table games management involve a wide variety of techniques spanning both legal advantage play and outright cheating. The main reason for all of this attention is the player’s ability to make 9 (nine) additional wagers after placing his initial bet.  If the player knows he will make a hand, he can compound his win when he might otherwise have folded. Likewise, the player may fold seemingly good cards knowing that they will not improve later in the hand.

To get a sense for the upside potential of MS, it’s worth knowing how bad it can get with perfect information. This is given by considering the situation when the AP/cheater knows the exact rank and suit of each of the three down-cards (flop, turn, river) after he is dealt his initial two cards. A player with perfect information has an edge over the house of 279.02%. If he wagers $100 per hand, and the game moves at 40 rounds per hour, then his expected winnings per hour are about $11,160. My personal response to this number is “Holy Crap!” Of course, in any realistic way, this number is not feasible. But, a large chunk of that amount is absolutely attainable through edge sorting, hole-carding, collusion and outright cheating.

Here is a summary of the methods and edges I have examined in my posts:

Mississippi Stud, Advantage Play & Cheating

Here is a complete list of my articles about Mississippi Stud to date:

Stephen How also has a long list of articles about getting the edge over MS posted on his website, Follow this link.

One thing to keep in mind is that “edge-sorting” can be considered a sub-technique (albeit a legal one) of card marking. In the case of edge-sorting, the player is able to distinguish a group of ranks of cards from another group of ranks.  For example, being able to distinguish the high cards {A, K, Q, J} from the low cards {2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, T} gives the player a 63.4% edge over the house.

In the case of card marking, individual cards might be marked differently allowing them to be specifically identified. But, for MS, this is simply not necessary. Marking the cards A, K, Q, J in any fashion gives the same advantage as the edge sort described above. Nothing fancy has to be done to crush MS. For this reason, I was not surprised to find out about this incident, first reported in The Advocate:

Serial card cheater tries to scam L’Auberge

By Jim Mustian
September 10, 2013

A gambler who has tried to cheat casinos in Las Vegas and beyond is accused of using invisible ink and infrared contact lenses in a sophisticated card-marking scheme during a poker game at L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge….

… The alleged scheme was detected the afternoon of Aug. 26 when Koloshi was flagged for suspicious behavior while playing Mississippi Stud poker at Table 410. Surveillance footage showed him reaching his right hand under the table before he was dealt his cards, according to court filings …

... Investigators found the location of the markings corresponded with the value of the card; for instance, aces were marked at the same location and 10s were also marked in a certain spot, the warrant says....

Let me just add that if this player was marking 10's (or any card other than a J, Q, K, A), then he was showing himself to be an uneducated rank amateur. He was a simple-minded overly greedy crook, at best. Good for L'Auberge that they quickly identified what this guy was doing.

If your casino offers MS, then it’s time to take charge. Educate management and surveillance about the issues surrounding this game. Know all the ways that MS can be beat. Find solutions and implement them. Routinely audit the game to insure the policies and procedures are being closely followed. Watch players who are making odd plays or otherwise have behaviors that just don't look right. Be diligent.

The game of MS poses many challenges, but it is also a very popular and profitable game for many casinos.  If your casino offers MS, then you need to refocus on safeguarding this game today.

Received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot has been a Professor of both Mathematics and Computer Science. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot Jacobson