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Three Card Poker payouts

18 August 2016

At most Three Card Poker tables, the highest payoff on the Pair Plus option is the 40-1 you get on any straight flush.

Compared to other poker-based table games, that top payoff is easily attainable. Straight flushes come up an average of once per 460.4 hands. Payoffs are higher in five-card stud-based games such as Caribbean Stud or Let It Ride, where royal flushes (1 per 649.740 hands) and straight flushes (1 per 72,193) are much rarer.

Three Card Poker makes its top jackpot a reality, rather than a dream. Anyone who plays very often will be dealt straight flushes.

Still, there’s a yearning among some players for something bigger. Why doesn’t Three Card Poker have a royal flush jackpot?

At some tables, it does. The higher payoff on a three-card royal – ace-king-queen of the same suit – isn’t widespread and it’s easier to find online than at live casinos, but it is an option offered by game distributor Shuffle Master, a Scientific Games company.

In three-card games, one of every 12 straight flushes consists of an ace, king and queen. There are 22,100 possible three-card hands, and four of them are royal flushes. That means a three-card royal – also called a “mini-royal” – occurs an average of once per 5,525 hands.

Royals in five-card games are more than 100 times as rare, and even straight flushes are just over 14 times as rare, so you’re not going to get any huge, lifestyle-changing jackpot for a mini-royal. Where offered, the mini-royal carries a modest bump from the 40-1 pay on other straight flushes.

The most common payoff on a mini-royal is 50-1, though some pay tables go as high as 200-1.

At 50-1, the mini-royal cuts the house edge by about two-tenths of a percent.

Let’s take a look at a couple of pay table samples.

The original Pair Plus pay table, devised by Derek Webb in the 1990s, paid 40-1 on straight flushes, 30-1 on three of a kind, 6-1 on straights, 4-1 on flushes and 1-1 on pairs. The house edge is 2.3% if you can find this pay table, but it’s become rare at live casinos.

If you layer a 50-1 return on a mini-royal onto that pay table and leave all other payoffs the same, the house edge drops to 2.1%.

More common today is a reduced pay table that cuts returns on flushes to 3-1, so that you’re paid 40-1 on straight flushes, 30-1 on three of a kind, 6-1 on straights, 3-1 on flushes and 1-1 on pairs. You’re dealt quite a lot of flushes in Three Card Poker, about one per 20.2 hands, so a reduced payoff makes a huge impact. The house edge on this pay table is 7.3%.

With a 50-1 return on mini-royals while leaving the rest of that pay table intact, the house edge dips slightly to 7.1%.

Should you find a casino that uses that second pay table but gives the maximum return of 200-1 on mini-royals, the house edge drops considerably more, to 4.4%. If you put that 200-1 mini-royal payoff on the original pay table, players would have an edge, so that’s a mini-royal/pay table combo you’ll never see.

If you find the original Pair Plus pay table, even without a mini-royal, you’re getting a better deal than you get on reduced pay tables with the biggest three-card royal pays. But on games with lesser pay tables, the mini-royal knocks down the edge just a bit, and at 1-in-5,525 odds, it remains a realistic possibility.

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