Try 3 Card for a little poker spice!

December 18, 2012 3:08 AM
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I often try to play games in a casino that will stretch my dollar and give me the best chances of making money.

Whether you enjoy playing video poker, blackjack or craps you can usually find a game with a small house edge. Sometimes we all need a change of pace since playing the same games can become redundant and even (relatively) boring.

Casinos are filled with games that may be fun but don’t offer the low house edge like video poker, blackjack or craps. Sometimes we need a few minutes of spice to break up the monotony of the “smart” games. Enter 3 Card Poker. It is an easy game to learn and play, quickly becoming one of the most popular in the casino because of its simplicity. The low minimums (usually $5) to play the game and high payouts don’t hurt either.

I’ll give a brief introduction in case you’re not familiar with 3 Card Poker, but you can find full blown tutorials online and any dealer will help teach you how to play. Begin by placing a bet on the Ante and Pair plus circles to get in the game.

If you like the three cards you’re dealt you’ll add another bet to the Play circle. If you don’t like the hand you can toss in your cards and take the smaller loss. Hands are ranked similar to traditional poker with a few differences. The exact payouts are listed on the table with a straight flush being the best paying hand.

In order to win, your cards must be better than the dealer’s hand. The dealer only qualifies to beat you if he or she has a hand higher than a Queen high. It’s that simple.

As simple as 3 Card Poker isthere’s a proper strategy to the game. According to Wizard of Odds optimal strategy in Ante and Play is to raise if you have a hand consisting of a Queen, 6 and 4 or greater. With this strategy you may lose almost 9% of the Ante but win over 5% on the Raise. The overall house edge for 3 Card Poker is over 7% on the Pair Plus bet and over 3% on the Ante and Play bets. For comparison you can find blackjack, craps and video poker with a house edge under 1%.

The fun and spice with 3 Card Poker comes in the form of the potential for large winnings. The best paying hand in the game is the straight flush, which pays 40-1 on the Pair Plus bet plus anywhere from 3-1 to 5-1 on the Ante bet and even money on the Play bet.

So, for a $15 bet you can win over $200. Not too shabby. The other big winning hand is three of a kind, which pays 30-1 on the Pair Plus bet.

While I often advocate playing the games with the smallest house edge, that can sometimes get tiresome. Variety is the spice of life and playing some of the games where the casino has a larger edge can sometimes change things up and maybe even add a few bucks to your pocket. Big wins…that’s fun!

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at www.AC2LV.com Contact Marc at MarcMeltzer@GamingToday.com.

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