As poker is a game of skill, it is unavailable on casino floors. Gambling establishments may have dedicated card rooms that let you enjoy Texas Hold’em, but when strolling their gaming aisles, the closest thing you can find to it is 3 Card Poker. It offers a dose of fast-paced table action with a low house edge and side-bonus bets that feature terrific odds. You can play up to 70 hands per hour on such a table and make out like a bandit.
Invented by professional player Derek Webb in 1994, this casino-poker variant did not immediately set the world on fire. Venues in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Reno rejected it before it found a home at the Grand Casino Gulfport in Mississippi, where it flourished. Nowadays, it is available at almost all gaming locales, and it ranks as the industry’s top proprietary table game. It competes for this title with its sibling – Caribbean Stud.
If you want to experience an exciting poker game where you play against a dealer, you can even do so on your smartphone. Online, the selection of 3 Card Poker casinos is vast, and such platforms let you choose between two opponents, software or croupier. Below, we list strategies and tips that should assist you en route to decent-sized wins at land-based and internet casinos.
For the uninformed, we will provide a quick rundown of the rules of this game. You start a hand by making an ante bet. You can also make a pair plus one, wagering that you will have a pair or better. You do not have to beat the dealer to receive a payout on this bet.
Once you make the ante wager, you get three cards, as does the dealer. After inspecting your hand, you can place a play bet, which puts your hand up against the dealers. The play bet must be a sum that is equal to your ante. If you do not choose to play, the dealer will collect your ante and pair plus wagers. If you make a play bet, the dealer will turn over his cards, and so will you.
The game utilizes a hand ranking system that is similar to regular poker. If you have a better hand than your dealer, you get to collect on your ante wager. To win your play bet, the dealer must have a qualifying hand. That means he must have a queen-high or better. If he does, your hand must beat his for you to win that wager. In short, that is about it.
Note that different payouts apply to the ante and the pair plus bets. For instance, at most venues, a straight flush gets you a win of 40 to 1 on a pair plus bet, while the ante payout for the same hand is 5 to 1.
Casino gamblers universally accept only one 3 Card Poker strategy. That is to play when you have a hand consisting of Queen-6-4 or higher and fold on everything else. It is that simple.
In 3 Card Poker, the hands get ranked from the highest one to the next highest. For instance, if you and the dealer both have a queen-high hand, the winner is the one who has the second-highest card. If you have a six and the dealer a five, you win. If you both have the same second-highest card, then you move to the last card in your hand to determine the winner.
If you get a Queen-7-3, you must fold because your lowest card has a value below 4. Why is this a decent strategy? Well, it is the first hand where the expected loss goes below the1 unit loss for folding. Meaning, your expected loss is 0.993378, which is less than the sum you lose if you fold the hand. In other words, the house edge when following this strategy falls in the range between 2.2% and 3.4%.
Technically, there is no strategy that you can use on a pair plus wager, as you make it before you get your cards. The only tactic we can share regarding this side-bet is to make it without the play bet. It has a house edge that is lower than the main game. The house edge on a pair plus bet falls in the range of 2.14% to 2.32%, depending on the payout. It is a rarity to have an opportunity to play the side-bet only in any game, and it is even rarer to find a game where the house’s advantage on it is so low.
Making a pair plus wager removes the need to make hard calls during the main game. You no longer have to worry if the dealer has a queen or if you are going to raise or fold. It further simplifies this already straightforward game.
Like most other popular table games, 3 Card Poker has its set of variations. The most established ones are Macau, Ultimate, California, Prime, and 3 Card Brag. The latter is the game from which 3 Card Poker originated, and it follows a similar structure. However, what is also common, are venues that offer additional side bets beyond a pair plus wager. None of these have a reasonable house edge, and most of them flaunt massive win potential in your face, daring you to make them. Do not.
The Millionaire Maker side-bonus offers a cool million dollars for a 6-Card royal flush in diamonds. That amount is the most you can win on this bet, regardless of your bet size. The Millionaire Maker also features other payouts, such as a 5 to 1 for three-of-a-kind and 10 to 1 for a 5-Card straight. Its default house edge is 18.10%, and the minimum sum you can lay down is $5 if you choose to utilize this side-bonus.
The Six-Card Bonus is likely the most popular of the additional bet options. It has a house edge of 15.28%, and payouts get determined when pitting your five-card poker hand against the dealer’s one. It is a game within a game. Avoid it as well, and never make a progressive bet or a prime one if offered.
Also, stay away from progressive betting systems commonly used on roulette and slots, such as the Martingale, the Labouchere, the D’Alembert, and the Paroli pattern. They can dig you into a hole, from which you may not be able to climb out of, amassing staggering losses.
Always ask to look at the pay-structure of a table you plan on using for your 3 Card Poker adventure. Venues may advertise games using this name, but they may incorporate a ruleset associated with one of its variants. Even slight changes in the game’s pay structure can shift the house edge dramatically in the casino’s favor. Thus, never be afraid to ask your dealer anything regarding payouts.
It is also wise to avoid playing multiple hands. You may believe that by doing so, you are gaining an advantage. Well, that is not true. First off, some venues only allow you to play two hands at once at the most. Now, you may think that the first hand will give you valuable information about the second one, which will lower the house advantage on that one. However, in the long-term, you are losing money by playing two or more hands. If you do the math, you’ll see that the second-hand’s lowered house edge is only an improvement of only 0.06%. The tactic also neglects the risk associated with making the play bet. So it is best to stay away from it altogether. That is unless you are more after entertainment than money.
3 Card Poker is fun to play, but it has limitations that stop you from utilizing any super-useful tactics. It is chance-based, designed for casino play, and like most table games in this genre, it involves zero skill to play. To maximize profits when playing it, you should follow some of the advice mentioned above and implement an appropriate betting strategy only if your bankroll allows it. Searching out how to win at 3 Card Poker is unlikely to yield any further tips regarding this casino-poker variant. Pay attention to which rules and payout variations the table you are playing at is utilizing, and practice proper bankroll management.
About the Author
Shelly Schiff is a professional writer with eleven years of experience supplying websites with content regarding the online gambling industry. She is most well-known for her collaborations with OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com, one of the top iGaming info hubs on the internet. Slots are her area of expertise, but Shelly also fancies herself a bit of a table fanatic. In her leisure time, she likes watching TV shows and reading Jim Thompson-like novels.