Las Vegas Gambling Tips: Three Card Poker
On The Town With Vegas Vic
By: Victor H. Royer
Welcome to Las Vegas! My name is Victor H. Royer, but everyone just calls me Vegas Vic. I was named after that famous neon sign in Downtown Las Vegas, that cowboy with the hat on top of the Pioneer Club, always waving his hand and beckoning to his long love, Sassy Sally, on the other side of the street. I will be writing a few articles for AccessVegas.com, so I hope you enjoy them.
Three Card Poker
Poker made simple. How easy can it get? Well, how about taking five card stud, and seven card stud, and all the hold’em games and reducing the “worry” of what to make out of these cards to just three cards total. Actually, it’s quite brilliant. Of course a few rule alterations need to be made.
For example, a “straight” is now higher than a “flush”. And, there’s NO royal flush … just the “straight flush” for the top award. The rest of the card hierarchy remains (somewhat) the same: pair, then the flush, then the straight, then the three-of-a-kind and then the straight flush. Of course, there can’t be two-pair with just three cards, or a full-house or a four-of-a-kind, but then in this game they don’t have to be there.
The attraction of this game lies in its simplicity, and the “bonus” odds-awards when the higher-paying combinations of cards are hit. Plus, Three Card Poker also trades on the “familiarity” aspects of some other games, which have, by now, become mainstream casino table games. The three existing games which all have some “familiar” presence in Three Card Poker are: Stud Poker, Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud. The brilliance of Three Card Poker lies in how all these three familiar elements have been combined and treated in the game’s rules and layout.
The layout of the table is very similar to both Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. Even the table design, with its three spots is very like Let It Ride, and the fact that one of the bets is called “ante” and the other called “bet” is also virtually identical to Caribbean Stud. And, of course, Stud Poker rules are used (somewhat) to judge the value of the hands dealt. So, in one sweep of inspiration, the game’s innovator has virtually eliminated the learning curve for players.
Anyone who has ever had any familiarity with Stud Poker, be it at the poker table or at video poker, knows what the hands do and what they mean. Anyone who has ever played Let It Ride will be able to quickly grasp the layout and betting positions, which is also the case for anyone who has ever played Caribbean Stud. So, here we have a game which just about anyone who has ever been to a modern casino can play almost immediately, and without much “thinking” and “learning”.
And, to that effect, Three Card Poker has achieved the desired outcome of making this table game as closely akin to a slot machine as it possibly can be, and yet still retain the table game allure for both the players, and the casino.
Actually, Three Card Poker is a very good game, odds-wise. And, as it turns out, it is so for both the player and the casino. The casino can expect about an average of between a little over 2% to a little under 3% edge, while the players can look forward to hitting the top-paying straight flush combination about each 450 hands. All things considered, as far as table games go, this one is among the better-odds games available. Most $1 and $5 and higher slot machines are set to “hold” about 2% to 4% for the house, and therefore Three Card Poker is very much in line with these house odds.
In addition, the ease of playing the game, and the opportunities to make three bets and vary the betting amounts, also provides the player with additional winning opportunities which can’t be found among most slot machines, but still do so within an inherent simplicity which is quite startling for a table game.
After the players make their bets, the game begins by the dealer dealing three cards to each player, and three cards to himself/herself. There are three bets in Three Card Poker. The first is called “Pair Plus”. This is designated on the table layout (closest to the dealer) by a small circle above the “ante” box. This is a single-shot bet, and plays strictly against the pay table. If among your three cards you have at least a pair, you win.
Pairs pay even money, three-card flushes pay 4:1, three-card straights pay 6:1, three-of-a-kind pays 30:1, and a three-card straight flush pays 40:1. These are purely one-shot (or one roll) bets, and the dealer does not figure in this decision. This is kind of like LIR, and the advantage to the player is that these payoffs pay with substantial odds, and are hit more frequently than at other similar games.
The other two bets are the “ante” wager and the “bet” wager. Similarly to Caribbean Stud, here the player wagers on the strength and value of his/her three-card hand against the dealer’s three-card hand. The dealer qualifies with a Queen or better. If the player’s hand beats the dealer, the player wins. If not, the player loses. However, unlike in Caribbean Stud, in Three Card Poker if the player has a hand of straight-or-better, then the player wins the odds-award, regardless of whether the dealer has qualified or not.
This is a distinct advantage. Any straight will pay 3:1, a three-of-a-kind pays 4:1 and the straight flush pays 5:1. And all this in addition to the awards paid on these hands for the Pair Plus wager (if that wager was made by the player).
To sum up, here’s how it all works. When you sit down at the Three Card Poker table, and change your cash into gaming chips, you then have the choice of making two of the three bets available: The Pair Plus and the “ante”. You MUST make the “ante” bet if you want to play for the round against the dealer, but you don’t have to. You can simply play Pair Plus alone, if you wish. Likewise, you can only play the “ante” at the beginning, and then decide later if you also want to play the “bet” round, based on the strength of the cards you received.
Let us assume that you are a smart player, and will therefore wager both the Pair Plus and the “ante” bets prior to receiving your cards. Now you have two bets in action, and they do NOT have to be the same value bet! This is another advantage, because you can bet, say $25 on the Pair Plus, and only $5 (for example) on the “ante”.
Now your bets are made, and you get your three cards, and the dealer get his/her cards. Look at what you have. If your hand contains a pair-or-better, you have automatically won your Pair Plus hand (remember that on the Pair Plus bet you also are paid for anything better than a pair, such as the flushes, straights and straight flushes). The Pair Plus hands are decided first, before the remainder of the game takes place. If your hand won on the Pair Plus wager, you will be paid in accordance with the pay table. Now the rest of the game takes place.
If you think your hand will beat the dealer’s hand, you then wake the third wager in the “bet” box, and this has to be twice your “ante” bet (just like in Caribbean Stud). Then the dealer looks at his/her hand. If the dealer qualifies with Queen or better, the decisions of whether you win or lose will depend on the value of the dealer’s hand versus the value of your hand. If the dealer does not qualify, then you will be paid even money on your “ante” bet. However, IF your hand also contains a flush or better, then your “bet” wager will also be paid with odds, regardless of whether the dealer qualified or not.
And that’s Three Card Poker in a nutshell. I think it’s a very good game for the players. My recommendation is to always make the “bet” wager backing up your “ante” bet. Most of the time you are far better off doing this than not, and surrendering your “ante”. In Three Card Poker, your hands will win more than they do at Caribbean Stud, and the fact of the odds payoffs on hands of flush or better regardless of dealer qualifying, makes this a very desirable bet.
The Pair Plus is also good, however you should be aware that getting pairs of anything, or better, in Three Card Poker is just about as tough as in five-card based games, in fact tougher. Therefore, the Pair Plus may not always be a good bet. Nevertheless, the combination of all these three wagers allows you to “hedge” your total table wagers per round, by cumulative means. And this alone, if anything, is one of the best advantages of this game. For more information about this game, please read my book: Powerful Profits from Casino Table Games, available through this web site.
Victor H. Royer, known as Vegas Vic, is the author of 42 books. Mostly known for books, articles, and columns on casino games and gambling, he is also the author of New Casino Slots, Great Gamblers: True Stories and Amazing Facts, The Great American Joke Book, as well as his works of Fiction, which include: Another Day, and the Western: Riders on the Wind. Versatile and multitalented, Royer is the creator, producer, and host of the Web-TV show Great Casino Slots, now showing at www.LasVegasLiveTV.com. He also composes music and performs under the names Glenn Diamond, Pappy Jones, Hans Dorfmann, and Miguel Armandaiz. For more information, please visit him at www.MoreCasinoDeals.com and www.GamingAuthor.com. Sign up for the Insider Advantage Newsletter at: http://www.accessvegas.com/membership
His books can be ordered through this website, by following the links provided
(c) Copyright 2016 Victor H. Royer. All rights reserved. For syndication purposes, contact GSR Holdings Inc. at: [email protected]