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Best of John Grochowski

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The hierarchy of games

28 May 2015

My e-mail box reflects a certain hierarchy among casino games. I get more questions and comments about slot machines than anything else. Next come blackjack and video poker, because of their large elements of skill.

But after that comes Three-Card Poker, which brings even more e-mail than traditional favorites craps and roulette.

Within the last few weeks, I’ve received two questions about different aspects of Three-Card Poker, and another that touches on the game in a roundabout sort of way. Let’s take them one at a time.

“I saw your answer about the 6 Card Bonus bet, and you listed one pay table and its house edge. What are some of the other edges, and why is there more than one pay table?”

Bally Technologies, which owns and distributes the game, offers a choice of pay tables so operators can choose one that best attracts customers and earns profits. The highest house edge doesn’t always yield the biggest profits. If the edge is so high customers don’t make the bet, then the wager brings no revenue.

The pay table listed in my Q-A recently begins 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 four-of-a-kind, 200-1 on straight flushes and 1,000-1 on royals. The house edge is 15.3 percent.

One version increases the royal return to 2,000-1, reducing the house edge to 14.4 percent. Another leaves the royal payback at 1,000-1 and drops full houses to 20-1, but increases four of a kind to 100-1 and three of a kind to 7-1. The bigger payback on the most common winner is important, and reduces the house edge to 8.6 percent.

“You haven’t written about the Three-Card Poker progressive bet. What can you tell me?”

Three-Card Poker Progressive is a $1 side bet. 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.

At wizardofodds.com, Michael Shackleford explains the game returns 47.87 percent, plus 4.52 percent for each $1,000 in the jackpot, plus 0.79 percent for each player at the table other than yourself. So if you were playing at a full seven-player table and the jackpot was $1,000, the expected return would be 57.13 percent, a house edge of about 43 percent.

The house edge decreases as more money is added to the jackpot. The break-even point is $11,520, minus $175 for each player other than yourself. So if you were playing alone and the pot stood at $11,520, there would be no house edge, while at a full table, there would be no house edge with a $10,470 jackpot.

“Do games have to be popular in Las Vegas before the rest of the U.S. gets them?”

There are a lot more cases of games radiating from Las Vegas to the rest of the country than the other way around, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Three-Card Poker failed its first trial in Las Vegas. The Stardust wasn’t happy with its return on the game. But Three-Card Poker established itself in Mississippi. It became so popular there that the rest of the country, including Las Vegas, had to take notice.

Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, 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