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About Three Card Poker

5 May 2016

Three Card Poker has risen from brand-new game, struggling to carve a niche in casinos a couple of decades ago, to familiar favorite today.

I’ve written of it often. Strategy is easy in the ante-bet portion of the game: Bet when you have queen-6-4 or better, fold when you have anything less. In the Pair Plus portion, you’re just hoping your three-card hands lands on a pay table that usually pays even money on any pair, 3-1 on a flush, 6-1 on a straight, 30-1 on three of a kind and 40-1 on a straight flush.

When both antes and bets are considered, the house edge of 2.01% on Three Card Poker ante-bet play is one of the lowest on proprietary table games. By comparison, the house edge on Caribbean Stud is 2.6% of total action, and on Let It Ride it’s 2.8% of total action.

On Pair Plus, the house edge is higher, at 7.28% on the common version.

It’s all very straightforward, but there are some extras and variations to look for, too.

Here are a few wrinkles you might find at Three Card Poker, along with one three-card wager you’ll find at blackjack:

MINI-ROYAL: At most Three Card Poker tables, suited ace-king-queen is treated the same as suited 4-5-6, or any other three consecutive same-suit cards. They’re all straight flushes, and they pay 40-1 at Pair Plus.

However, some tables add a mini-royal to the Pair Plus pay table, separating suited ace-king-queen out from other straight flushes. When a 50-1 mini-royal is added to the top of the common pay table listed above, it reduces the house edge slightly, to 7.1%.

SIX-CARD BONUS BET: This side bet is a wager that your three cards plus the dealer’s three cards will yield a five-card poker hand of at least three of a kind. Strong hands are easier to attain than in straight five-card games because you have an extra card, and just ignore the sixth.

Several different pay tables are available for operators to choose from. One common one starts with a 5-1 payoff on three of a kind, and increases to 10-1 on straights, 15-1 on flushes, 25-1 on full houses, 50-1 on fours-of-a-kind, 200-1 on straight flushes and 1,000-1 on royals.

The house edge is bigger than I like, at 15.3%. Even the best version, which starts at 7-1 on three-of-a-kind while lowering full houses to 20-1, has an 8.6% house edge. I usually skip the six-card bet, but if you’re jackpot hunting, the potential for a big payoff is there.

THREE CARD POKER PROGRESSIVE: This is a $1 side bet, and it also is offered in a couple of different pay tables. Commonly, payoffs start at $90 for three of a kind and increase to $100 for a straight flush, $500 for a mini-royal of ace-king-queen in the same suit, and a progressive jackpot if the mini-royal is in spades. If you get a mini-royal, all other players at the table also get an envy bonus – $25 on most mini royals, but $100 if it’s in spades.

21 + 3: This blackjack side bet involves a three-card hand consisting of a players first two cards and the dealer’s face up card, with any hand of a flush or better paying 9-1. Though similar to Three Card Poker, which is distributed by Bally/Scientific Games, 21 + 3 belongs to Galaxy Gaming, which acquired it from Prime Table Games and Derek Webb – the originator of Three Card Poker.


Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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:

> 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