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Best of John Grochowski
About Three Card Poker5 May 2016
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.
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Best of John Grochowski