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Best of John Grochowski

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A rare Pair Plus payout at Three Card Poker

25 September 2016

QUESTION: Playing Three Card Poker, I found a Pair Plus pay table different than the ones I usually play. It paid 100-1 on a three-card royal, which I’d never seen. It paid the usual 40-1 on a straight flush, 30-1 on three of a kind, but then 5-1 on a straight, 4-1 on a flush and 1-1 on a pair.

What’s the house edge on this? Is it higher or lower than usual?

ANSWER: Most Three Card Poker tables do not distinguish between mini-royals and other straight flushes in their Pair Plus payoffs. When I’ve seen mini-royals on the pay table, it’s usually been 50-1, rather than the 100-1 that you found.

Without the mini-royal, a 40-30-5-4-1 pay table has a 5.57% house edge. Adding a 50-1 pay on a three-card royal reduces that to 5.39%. With a 100-1 mini-royal, there’s a further reduction to a 4.49% house edge.

That’s better than the most common pay table available on Pair Plus. What you’ll usually find is a 40-30-6-3-1 pay table, with no mini-royal, straights paying 6-1 and flushes paying 3-1. The house edge on that version is 7.28%, making it a bet to avoid.

The reason you’re better off with 5-1 on straights and 4-1 on flushes rather than 6-1 on straights and 3-1 on flushes is that flushes occur a lot more often than straights in three-card games.

There are 22,100 possible three-card hands in which card order doesn’t matter. Of those, 720 combinations are straights and 1,096 are flushes.

The original Pair Plus pay table was 40-30-6-4-1, with a 6-1 payoff on straights and 4-1 on flushes. The house edge was 2.32 percent. That’s rare today – I don’t remember the last time I saw it in a casino.

We’re left with tables where either the payoff on straights or the payoff on flushes is reduced compared to the original pay table. That being the case, it’s better for players if the reduction comes on the less common hand, leaving the full pay on the hand you get more often.

So 40-30-5-4-1 has a lower house edge than 40-30-6-3-1 without any augmentation. The addition of the 100-1 on the three-card royal makes the pay table you saw much better than the Pair Plus game usually found in casinos.


QUESTION: When you say penny slots pay less than 90%, that’s the same as saying the house edge is more than 10%, right? That’s really high, higher than the house edges on blackjack, craps, roulette, Three Card Poker and so on. So why do people play the slots instead of the games with better odds?

ANSWER: There are lots of reasons people play slots. They have a lower minimum bet. You can cover all the paylines on a penny slot for 30, 40, sometimes 50 cents. Table games have a much higher minimum, and even $5 tables are rare in many areas.

Slots are easy to play, with no strategies to learn. There’s no intimidation factor from other players complaining about bad plays. Entertainment value is high on many modern video slots, with interactive bonus events, film clips, animation, music and special effects. There’s a large segment of players who find the slots fun to play.

And there’s always the outside chance at a big jackpot. Your 30-cent bet could win hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

People who play in casinos play for different reasons. Some want the best shot to win, and they stick to table games and video poker. Many play mainly for entertainment, and they’ve made slots the most popular casino games.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski