Winning Tips

Three Card Poker: Strategy and Game Variations

THE ANTE-BET STRATEGY

Optimal strategy for Three Card Poker is about as easy as it gets. Make the extra bet to stay in the game if your hand is Queen-6-4 or better. Fold if you have a lesser hand.

 

That means you also bet on all pairs, flushes, straights, three of a kinds and straight flushes – those all outrank high-card hands. Note that in Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes. That’s because you see flushes more often than straights in three-card games. In five-card games, you get straights about twice as often as flushes, but in three-card games there are 1.5 times as many possible flushes as straights.

SupportingPic3_VariationsandStrategies

If you don’t have any of those higher-ranking hands, then hands are ranked by highest card first, then second highest. If you have Jack-10-7, the proper strategy is to fold. It is not Queen-6-4 or better since the highest card is lower than the Queen.

 

If you hand is King-3-2, then you should make the bet. The King outranks the Queen, making this a better hand than Queen-6-4 even though the second and third cards are lower than the 6 and 4.

 

If you have a Queen as a high card, then the second card comes into consideration. Stay with Queen-7-2 or Queen-6-4, but not with Queen-5-4 or Queen-6-3.

 

With that strategy, the house edge on the ante-pay combo is 3.4 percent of the ante, or 2.0 percent when both the ante and bet are considered.

 

PAIR PLUS
If you think ante-bet is easy, then Pair Plus is a real snap. You don’t have to beat the dealer, and there is no strategy to learn. All you need is to match a hand on the pay table – a concept video poker players can identify with. You win on any hand that contains a pair or better, and lose if you don’t have at least a pair.

 

There are several pay tables available, but the most common pays 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for straights, 3-1 for flushes and even money for pairs. At that pay table, the house edge is 7.3 percent.

 

The payoffs aren’t as huge as you see on five-card games, but they are attainable. Anyone who plays very often will see the occasional straight flush or three of a kind. You’ll see the top hand, a straight flush, about once per 460 hands. Compare that to a five-card royal on a game such as Caribbean Stud. That occurs an average of once per 649,740-1. Caribbean Stud pays a lifestyle-changing progressive, but you may never see one in your lifetime. Three Card Poker pays a more modest sum, but $200 for a $5 bet is a nice win, and you’ll see straight flushes a lot more often with three cards.

 

THREE CARD POKER VARIATIONS
Some tables now offer a  6 Card Bonus bet. If you make the side bet, you’re wagering 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 four of a kind, 200-1 on straight flushes and 1,000-1 on royals.

 

Also popular is a Three Card Poker Progressive. It’s 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.

 

 

FUN FACTS

  • Some Three Card Poker tables also 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 a pay table that yields 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, it drops the house edge from 7.3 percent to 7.1 percent.

 

  • The when both antes and bets are considered, the house edge of 2.01 percent on Three Three Card Poker ante-bet play is one of the lowest on proprietary table games. By comparison, the house edge on Caribbean Stud is 5.2 percent of the ante or 2.6 percent of total action, and on Let It Ride it’s 3.5 percent of one bet or 2.8 percent of total action.

 

  • The 21 + 3 side bet on blackjack 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, it is not distributed by Bally/Scientific Games. It belongs to Galaxy Gaming, which acquired it from Prime Table Games and Derek Webb – the originator of Three Card Poker.

 

Three Card Poker: On the Felt with Roger Snow

Roger Snow is the senior vice president at Bally Technologies and also a renowned table games inventor. We recently caught up with him to talk about the popular game of Three Card Poker, a game that inspired him in his career and one that resonates with players around the world.

 

SupportingPic1_RogerSnow

John Grochowski: Why do players love Three Card Poker?

Roger Snow: A, I think Three Card Poker really hits the fat part of the bell curve with players. First of all, it’s simple, which always helps. It’s not the only thing a game needs, but it’s really easy to understand. Secondly, the math is just magical. You hear about athletes that are genetically gifted. Well Three Card Poker is mathematically gifted, especially if you look at something like Pair Plus. Just the way the math works out, it’s any pair, not a pair of 7s, not a pair of 8s or better. It’s any pair. Hit frequency is about 25 percent, so that’s great. On a full table, you’ll almost always see somebody hit it. The other hands are relatively easy to make. Flushes, straights, even the top hand of a straight flush. You compare that to five-card games, you almost never will see the top two or three hands, but in Three Card Poker you do. They pay a little bit less, but they still pay 30-1, 40-1. Those are high quality payouts, they’re going to happen, and they’re very achievable.

 

JG: How is it different from other proprietary games?

RS: You have to put yourself back in 1995, 1996 when it came out. It really changed the way people thought about table games. Before that, the only two successful games were Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride, and they have a lot of bells and whistles on them. Caribbean Stud of course had the progressive and Let It Ride had the tournament, but they all had electronics, and they were really selling a life-changing award. Three Card Poker comes along and says, hey, I’m just colored circles on a felt, and my top award is 40-1, and it came in and just blew everything off the map.

 

From a game developer’s standpoint, that’s the one that I looked at. I don’t look at Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud, and that’s why the games that I’ve done aren’t really bell and whistle games. They’re just, “Hey, I’m going to try to put together a game with a mathematical formula that people like.”

 

JG: What should someone playing for the first time know about Three Card Poker?

RS:  First of all, the environment tends to be very social. It’s not combative, like blackjack can be, where people think if they don’t play right, people will yell at them – which is true. In Three Card Poker, with the dealer and the other players, it’s very social. The second thing is that people, when they play a game and risk their own money, they want to know the optimal way to play the game, if possible. Three Card Poker is very simple. If you have Queen-6-4 or better you play, if you don’t you fold. It’s a very easy strategy. I tell people to enjoy the side bets as well, Pair Plus, which is on every Three Card Poker table, and 6 Card Bonus, is on about half the Three Card Poker tables now, that’s only about three years old. That’s a great bet. The game didn’t need revitalizing, but it 6 Card Bonus really amped up the popularity of it.

Three Card Poker: No Bluffing Needed

threeCardpokerBannerIf any modern table game could be said to be an adopted son of the South, it’s Three Card Poker. Success in Mississippi eventually convinced casinos throughout the United States to give the game a try and today, it stands as a casino standard that every operator must have.

It is fun, easy to learn and gives players a decent chance to win.

 

HOW TO PLAY
Start by making an ante for player vs. the dealer and/or a bet on Pair Plus. At most casinos, you do not have to make both wagers. The ante and the Pair Plus wager can be of different sizes. They are separate bets, and are decided independently, so they don’t have to match.

 

After all players have made their wagers, each player gets three cards face down, and the dealer also gets three cards face down. Play continues after players have a chance to pick up their cards and look at them.

 

ANTE-BET PLAY VS. THE DEALER
After you’ve seen your cards, you may either make a bet equal to your ante, or you may fold and forfeit the hand. If you’ve anted $5, then your bet must also be $5 for you to stay in the game.

 

The dealer then turns his cards face up. If the dealer hand is at least a Queen or better, it is a qualifying hand. For you to win, your hand must outrank the dealer’s. If you win, both your ante and your bet are paid at even money, and if you lose, the dealer takes both your ante and bet.

 

If the dealer hand does not qualify and you’ve made the bet to stay in the game, then you win even money on the ante, but the bet is returned to you with no additional payoff.

 

In addition, there is a bonus for strong hands regardless of whether you beat the dealer or not. Most casinos pay a 5-1 bonus if you have a straight flush, 4-1 if you have three of a kind and even money if you have a straight.

 

For example, let’s say you ante $5, see you have a straight flush and follow with a $5 bet. Assuming you win the hand, you then collect winnings of $5 on the ante, $5 on the bet and $25 on the straight flush. On other wins that don’t include one of the big three hands, you’d collect $5 on the ante and another $5 on the bet.

 

THE ANTE-BET STRATEGY
Optimal strategy for Three Card Poker is about as easy as it gets. Make the extra bet to stay in the game if your hand is Queen-6-4 or better. Fold if you have a lesser hand.

 

That means you also bet on all pairs, flushes, straights, three of a kinds and straight flushes – those all outrank high-card hands. Note that in Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes. That’s because you see flushes more often than straights in three-card games. In five-card games, you get straights about twice as often as flushes, but in three-card games there are 1.5 times as many possible flushes as straights.

 

If you don’t have any of those higher-ranking hands, then hands are ranked by highest card first, then second highest. If you have Jack-10-7, the proper strategy is to fold. It is not Queen-6-4 or better since the highest card is lower than the Queen.

 

If your hand is King-3-2, then you should make the bet. The King outranks the Queen, making this a better hand than Queen-6-4 even though the second and third cards are lower than the 6 and 4.

 

With that strategy, the house edge on the ante-pay combo is 3.4 percent of the ante, or 2.0 percent when both the ante and bet are considered.

 

PAIR PLUS
If you think ante-bet is easy, then Pair Plus is a real snap. You don’t have to beat the dealer, and there is no strategy to learn. All you need is to match a hand on the pay table – a concept video poker players can identify with. You win on any hand that contains a pair or better, and lose if you don’t have at least a pair.

 

There are several pay tables available, but the most common pays 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for straights, 3-1 for flushes and even money for pairs. At that pay table, the house edge is 7.3 percent.

 

The payoffs aren’t as huge as you see on five-card games, but they are attainable. Anyone who plays very often will see the occasional straight flush or three of a kind. You’ll see the top hand, a straight flush, about once per 460 hands. Compare that to a five-card royal on a game such as Caribbean Stud. That occurs an average of once per 649,740-1. Caribbean Stud pays a lifestyle-changing progressive, but you may never see one in your lifetime. Three Card Poker pays a more modest sum, but $200 for a $5 bet is a nice win, and you’ll see straight flushes a lot more often with three cards. Good luck!

 

 

CLICK HERE for more winning tips by Southern Gaming!  

VIDEO POKER: Boomerang

When I was in Australia a few years ago I noticed that although “pokies” (video poker) machines were quite popular that unlike the country’s famous boomerangs, player benefits didn’t always come back to frequent patrons. It caused me to ponder the differences between gambling in Oz and other worldwide gaming spots versus the advantages of remaining right here in the USA. So for those whose boomerang won’t come back elsewhere, here are some tips for accessing the bounce-back from their casino play.

(more…)

BLACKJACK: Should You Tip The Dealer?

shutterstock_21908599I receive many questions from blackjack players. Below are a few of them with tips on how to tip a dealer, what to do if a dealer makes a mistake and what you should do if a casino oversteps the legal rights of a player.

(more…)

CRAPS: Backwall Hits, Luck and The Don’t

CrapsLet’s take some time for Q and A’s from our fans.

 

FROM HOWARD: I was wondering if you could answer a question for me, please. I am a dice control craps shooter. I was at the Parx casino last week and got into a 75-minute shoot. Yeah!

I know casinos like for both dice to hit the wall but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I know they tried to intimidate me by telling me both dice have to hit the back wall.

If I don’t what can they do?

I am looking forward to your answer.

(more…)

POKER: Introducing NHL to Your Home Game

Option 1Now is the time to tell you that if you introduce NLH to your own home poker game, watch out! The money won and lost can escalate pretty quickly. Before long, the size of the pots will be more than you bargained for. As a brake against this tendancy I reccommend that you introduce NLH in a “cash-down” format, which allows people to take a portion of their chips off the table at a certain peredetermined chip total.

For example, you could require everyone to keep at least $50 in chips in play (making that the maximum they could lose in one pot), but allow them to take off the money above that amount. If someone wins $110 pot, he can remove $60 in chips and put it in his pocket while keeping $50 in play in front of himself. In this way, the stakes won’t go up and up and up after a few hours ofNLH plays, as they usually do. (more…)

Tips & Tricks of the Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is the most elusive prize in sports.

Baseball has its own Triple Crown. It happens when a player leads the league in three statistical categories and since baseball began in 1838, there have been 17 batters and 38 pitchers that have accomplished this amazing feat.

In terms of other horsepower, to win the Triple Crown of motorsport is to capture Formula 1’s most important races: the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix. Only 17 drivers have won a single event while competing in all three, and just 1 – Graham Hill – has pulled off the near impossible.

This year will see horse racing celebrate the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the 140th Preakness Stakes, and 147th Belmont Stakes: and just 11 horses have captured all three. Unlike any other sport where an athlete can try for a Triple Crown over and over, a horse only has one chance to be three-years-old on the first Saturday in May. (more…)

10 Ways to Maximize Your Play

Maximize Slot PlayWhen we sit down to play a slot machine, our task is simple: Make a bet, spin the reels and the machine takes care of the rest. Except in rare instances, there are no strategies to learn or skills to master. The flip side is that while we can’t affect the outcome in any predictable way, nor tell from the outside which games are the highest-paying, there are things we do know about slots and the casinos that operate them to get the most out of a day on the machines. Here are 10 things every slot player should know.

 

(more…)

POKER: Top 10 Starting Hands for Beginners

In this column we typically discuss more advanced Hold ’em strategy. But sometimes, it’s good to take a few steps back. And for beginners, I recommend playing only these top 10 hands and folding on all others.

(more…)

BLACKJACK: What Would You Do?

How would you play the following four blackjack hands? The dealer’s upcard is a 6.

8♣-10♦
9♥-9♦
A♦-7♠
2♦-5♠-A♦

(more…)

Craps: Mommy’s Manners

My mother always believed in proper manners. She wanted me to be respectful of others’ feelings and to keep my mouth shut if I didn’t have something decent to say. Of course, she didn’t think I should just roll over if someone were nasty to me but you get the picture, I shouldn’t be the “bore in the room” without strong provocation. (more…)

Slots: Put Me In Coach

P29_Boyd Slot Tourname_optI recently was a guest on Southern Gaming Radio to talk about both video poker and slot tournaments. The host, Southern Gaming and Destination’s managing editor, Joseph Grove, made casino special events sound so tempting that many listeners were champing at the bit to join in. While I wouldn’t advise taking WD-40 to spritz the buttons for faster play, there are a few legal things you can do to gain an advantage and really be “ready to play” come tournament day.

 

 

(more…)

Props and Profits – The Proper Way to Bet this Year’s Super Bowl

P18_shutterstock_14871_optIn last year’s Super Bowl, it was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos vs. Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. The point spread was Denver -2 points. No matter if you took the points with Seattle or laid them with Denver, the game was a blowout and was impossible to hold one’s attention for the entire contest. But when the going gets the boring, the bored get betting. Who needs to rely on the traditional outcome-based wager when the wonder that is prop bets is ready for your coin and concentration.

Want to know more? Read on, my gambling friend.

Prop bets, like how many times Peyton Manning will say “Omaha” (over 27.5 at -135, under 27.5 at -105) are great for entertainment value at any Super Bowl. Especially to keep your attention through the entire game. It starts with the coin toss and ends with “what will the last score be” or “will the last score be anything other than a touchdown.” It’s three and half hours of action-packed dramas, cheering and yelling, and it has the potential for much added value (profits) throughout the game.

For recreational and serious handicappers, there are hundreds of Super Bowl props that give bettors the opportunity to bet on the game in exactly the way they see it playing out. It’s real-time betting.

Point spread props give betting fans the chance to earn better payouts on the game, if they believe that the main point spread is not in their favor. It was clear to anyone who did the research that Peyton Manning consistently struggles in the cold weather. Bettors who believed that Manning would struggle playing in the cold against Seattle’s elite defense may not have been happy with just betting the Seahawks on the money line at +115 or taking the +2 points at even money. Instead, they could bet on the Seattle Seahawks -3.5 at +180, Seattle -7.5 at +350, Seattle -10.5 at +500 or Seattle -17.5 at +1000. I thought the Seahawks would score before they would punt so I was willing to risk $100 to win $150.
Some of last year’s most popular Super Bowl prop bets:

  1. Total QB sacks by Seahawk defense:
    Over 1.5 to win +110
  2. Will either team score three straight times?
    Yes/No to win +155
  3. Will Peyton Manning thrown an interception?
    No at +180
  4. Largest lead by any team:
    13.5 points or greater for +150
  5. Will there be a safety?
    Yes to win +155
  6. Last score of the game will be “any other score” than a TD: +175
  7. Will the Seahawks convert a fourth down attempt?
    Yes pays +155
  8. Which will happen first: Seahawks score or punt? +150
  9. Total rushing yeards by Marshawn Lynch:
    O/U 92.5 yards -110
  10. Total rushing yards by Russell Wilson:
    O/U by 30.5 yards -110

There are more than 350 props available for wagering. They will make the game fly by and if you do your own “game plan” correctly, large payouts are in the equation.

 

A few others available to bet were:

* “Will there be a successful two-point conversion attempt?”
Bet yes and collect +350 if it wins.

* “Will the game go into overtime” is a nice long shot and overdue to hit.

For this year’s Super Bowl and to get a jump start on your friends and be the life of the party, bet these as examples and watch the fun (and profits) begin.

They will get you through the first half of the first quarter. Just imagine an entire game at “prop” speed.

  1. Will the singer of the National Anthem forget or omit at least one word? Yes +250
  2. Will the coin toss be heads or tails?
    Bet heads for +100
  3. Will there be a safety?
    Yes +900
  4. Will the opening kick-off result in a touchback?
    Bet no +145
  5. Will there be a score in the first 2:30 seconds of the game? Bet yes +500
  6. Will the team that scored first win the game?
    Bet yes +350
  7. Will the first 1st down in the game be a pass play or a
    run play? Run play +135
  8. Will the first score of the game be a rushing TD?
    Bet yes +500

 

A little added history: The biggest odds-maker’s upset in Super Bowl History was Super Bowl XIII, between Pittsburg and Dallas. It was called “Black Sunday” in Las Vegas for casinos.

The line opened Pittsburgh -3.5. So much money was coming in on the Steelers that the odds makers moved the points to Pittsburgh -4.5 to draw in some Dallas Cowboy money. After two late Staubach passes erasing a 35-17 score, the final score of Black Sunday Super Bowl XIII (13) was 35-31 and those with Pittsburgh -3.5 bets won and those with Dallas +4.5 points won and most LV Sportsbook Directors headed out to jump off of Hoover Dam.

Now you get the idea of how much more fun and entertaining you can make Super Bowl Sunday by adding Super Bowl props (and of course profits).

And as always, you’ll find all the props and my advice listed at WinningEDGE.com.

Have a great and prosperous Super Bowl.

World Series of Poker Circuit Event at Horseshoe Tunica – Jan 22 – Feb. 2

Tunica, Miss. —The World Series of Poker Circuit returns to Tunica this season with a new home. For the first time in the tour’s history, the Horseshoe Tunica will host a Circuit event.

Horseshoe Tunica has been part of poker history since it opened its doors. It was originally founded by Jack Binion, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and son of WSOP founder Benny Binion. Now, the Horseshoe becomes part of the WSOP Circuit as well.

(more…)