This three-card variant of poker saw the light in America in 1994. Its inventor Derek Webb thought that combining the excitement of playing poker with a certain amount of speed would make three-card poker a great casino game. Although the game has not significantly penetrated the world of gambling, it nevertheless meets the basic preconditions for a successful game.
Three-card poker has easy rules that, as we will show, can be learnt by virtually anyone. The game also has very generous payout ratios that attract players to the table, and it also has a house edge high enough to be attractive for casinos.
Rules of the Three Card Poker
The game is very similar to poker. It is played with a deck of 52 two cards, and most poker hand ratings are used. You can also play this poker variation in two modes according to your bets. First of all, you can bet Ante and Play – in which case you are playing against the dealer. The second bet is called PairPlus and the player bets on the final hand combination, just like in video poker.
At the beginning of the game round, the player decides whether to bet an Ante or a PairPlus bet. Then the dealer deals three cards to everyone at the table, including himself. Players now have the opportunity to see their cards.
No one sees the dealer’s cards. Those players who bet on Ante can now either raise or fold cards. If the player does fold, his bet will, of course, be void. If the player raises, he/she places a bet of the same amount as the Ante as the Play bet.
Once all players have played, the dealer’s cards are turned over. In order for a dealer to qualify for the game, his hand must be at least Queen high. If the dealer does not qualify for the game, Ante bets are paid out 1:1 and Play bets are pushed.
If the dealer qualifies, his cards are compared to the player’s cards and whoever has the higher hand wins. If a player wins, both his Ante and Play bets are paid out 1:1. If it’s a tie, both bets are push, and if the dealer wins, the player loses both bets. If a player has a hand of at least Straight and higher, he/she receives the Ante bonus, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
If a player places a PairPlus bet and gets a winning combination, he/she is paid the amount according to the payout ratio in the table.
|Straight Flush||40 to 1||5 to 1|
|Three of a kind||30 to 1||4 to 1|
|Straight||6 to 1||1 to 1|
|Flush||3 to 1||0|
|Pair||1 to 1||0|
The Optimal Strategy for Three-card Poker
The optimal strategy is quite easy, with three card poker. First of all, it is recommended to bet only Ante and therefore Play bet. The PairPlus bet has a significantly higher house edge, as much as 7.28%. Many players may argue that it is in the PairPlus bet that offers high payouts. But the house edge is the house edge, and the player will lose more in the long run.
There is a very simple strategy for an Ante / Play bet. The key is the value Q, 6, 4. If you have at least such a strong hand, the player is mathematically more advantageous. Otherwise, it is better to fold the cards. The probability of Q, 6, 4 or higher is 69.59%. If you play according to this strategy, the house edge for Ante bet is 3.37%.
House edge calculation for individual bets
Return to player for PairPlus bet
|Three of a kind||30||52||0,235%||7,059%|
Return to player for the Ante bet
|Win||Combinations||Probability||Return to Player|
|3||8 976 452||2,205%||6,614%|
|2||91 100 695||22,374%||44,748%|
|1||80 955 780||19,882%||19,882%|
|-1||132 923 304||32,646%||-32,646%|
|-2||91 126 832||22,381%||-44,762%|
|Sum||407 170 400||100%||-3,73%|
In conclusion, we should mention again that the calculated return and thus also the advantage of the casino are valid only in the case of playing according to the optimal strategy. So play at Q, 6, 4 and more.