Russian poker strategy

Russian poker

​Russian poker is one of the most exciting and fascinating 6-card poker games. Its main features include the ability to buy the 6th card and replace one or more desired cards from a starting combination, and also the fact that participators compete against the dealer, and not against other players.

As it is known, there are a lot of strategies for Omaha or Texas Hold'em which are recommended by professionals but everything becomes much easier when it relates to Russian poker. All you need to do is to beat the dealer. This is the main task. There is no need to invent sneaky bluff plans and different tricks in order to get closer to the pot winning. The main principle of the Russian poker game strategy is a decision to buy the sixth card which, in its turn, depends on your starting cards combination.

The game is pretty simple. The dealer and a player get 5 cards, one of the dealer’s cards remains open. The player has several options: to muck the cards, to make a bet, to buy the 6th card (for an extra bet) and to change one or more of his cards. The showdown comes after the all changes, where the player with the highest combination becomes a winner. In order to feel confident in the game, we suggest you to familiarize with the strategic rules of Russian poker.

Buying of the 6th card and cards substitution

An advantage of Russian poker is that there is an opportunity to buy a 6th card and to change the unsuitable cards. You need to decide whether it is worth spending money to buy a card / change it for another one. Therefore, it is very important to learn to analyze your combination and winning odds correctly.

Take two facts into account:

  1. Don’t ever buy the 6th card if your starting combination is quite weak or it can’t change much during the game. Thereby you need to fold avoiding a simple waste of money. Also your winning odds will be better with a set (trips). In this case you need to buy the 6th card.
  2. Buy the 6th card only if there is a need to play a draw-hand when you already have an unfinished combination of flush or straight. The "internal" straight is the only exception of this rule. This is a combination where interlocutory cards are missed: 6, 7, 9, 10 and 8 is absent.

Card substitution

Note that each card substitution will cost you money and the cost will increase with every exchange.

One card is changed only in situation with the starting draw-hand: if a player has a straight-draw or a flush-draw with 4 cards and there is a chance to complete the combination by one card exchanging.

Often, 2 cards are exchanged on basis of the combination and exchange cost. It is very advantageous to change 2 cards in the starting combination especially if there is an incomplete straight-flush with 3 cards.

If a 2-card exchange is half the value of it or higher in total, then the exchange itself must occur only if there is a very strong potential combination such as uncompleted straight-flush (or royal-flush) with 3 cards.

If you think about a 5-card exchange, then it is appropriate to change them only due to the following condition: the game allows to replace all 5 cards with one bet.

Strategy for beginners

If you refer yourself to the beginner category in this game and you cannot analyze the combinations correctly or decide on buying/changing the cards, then the basic strategy of Russian poker will be very useful to you. Familiarize with the recommendations regarding the card exchanging with a particular hand:

  • If you have a completed combination of 5 cards in the starting hand, i.e. royal-flush, straight-flush or flush, buy the 6th card;
  • If you have a set (trips), exchange 2 cards that are not included into the combination;
  • If you have a pair, buy the 6th card or change 3 of remaining ones;
  • Draw-hand is a combination of 4 cards (straight-flush, straight, flush with one card to complement the combination). Buy the 6th card. There is one more option that is applied to the draw combination of 4 cards: this Russian poker strategy is profitable only if you get a straight-flush. Change 2 of remaining cards;
  • Ace + King: change 3 cards. A hand with a high card (Ace or King): change 4 cards depending on the dealer's card;
  • If there is no combination, then make an exchange of 4 cards due to the following conditions:

a) the highest card in the hand is 8 or higher;

b) the highest card in the hand is higher than the dealer's card.

In all other cases, the best solution is to fold the combination. As you can see, it's easy to learn to play Russian poker. This game is not as fast and aggressive as Omaha. So good luck at the tables!