Scientific Games has launched the Shuffle Master Classic promotional Three Card Poker Tournament. There is no buy-in or open entry. The only way in is to hit a big hand while playing one of their games at a participating casino.
You need to hit a Royal Flush on games like Let It Ride, Crazy 4 Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, etc., or a 6-Card Straight Flush while playing the 6-Card Bonus in Three Card Poker. The odds of the 5-Card Royal are just under 650,000-to-1 and the 6-Card Straight Flush is about 565,000-to-1. If you have your heart set on making the tournament, stick with the 6-Card Bonus. You’ll need lots of luck, but less of it.
Hitting one of these hands puts you in the tournament and awards a $1,000 travel voucher plus a stay at a Las Vegas hotel. This is on top of whatever else you win by hitting the hand, which could be significant too! There are no strategy tips, just to be in the right place at the right time. Once in, there are definitely some things you’re going to want to do that are a bit different.
There are three rounds, each consisting of 20 hands and you’ll be given $1,000 in chips. The top player at each table will go on, along with some “wildcards.” Only the 7 people at the final table will win money. In the opening round, you need to win your table or at least finish with a sizeable number of chips to have a shot at a wildcard spot. What does this mean for your strategy?
The Ante/Play will be a required bet, while Pair Plus and the 6-Card Bonus will be optional. These optional wagers have much lower paybacks than Ante/Play. You’ll need some good cards and need to maximize the value of these hands. Ante/Play is mostly an even money wager with the exception of the Ante Bonus.
If you get a Straight Flush, you’ll win 6-7 times your Ante Wager. A similar size wager on Pair Plus will win 40 times your wager. A Flush will pay even money in Ante/Play but get you three times your wager on Pair Plus. At the very least do not bypass Pair Plus. You may want to bet heavier on this wager than on Ante/Play. With only 20 hands to build your bankroll, an even money wager is just not the best option.
The 6-Card Bonus Sidebet is a bit trickier. I don’t know what paytable will be used at this time. The hit frequency on the ones in the casino are only about 7+% as compared to closer to 25% for Pair Plus. You have the opportunity for some bigger wins with this optional wager, but at considerably longer odds. I’d probably put some money here, but it would be minimal. If you catch lightning in a bottle and get a big hand, even a small wager will go a long ways.
Money management is everything – well, almost. You need to pay attention to how big the stacks are of your opponents. The rules require that every player keep his chips in front of him neatly. For the first 16 hands of each round, Players make their wagers at the same time. With the last 4 hands, wagers will be placed in order.
This gives you a chance to gauge what your opponents are doing relative to their bankroll. If you have the big stack, you want to slow up your wagering. Keep some money on the two optional wagers so if you hit, you get to increase your stack. If you are behind, you need to figure out by about how much and wager accordingly.
If the Player you are chasing is betting $5 on each wager and you’re down by $100 on the final hand and get the luxury of setting your bet after him, you goal has to be to get ahead Your best chance is Ante/Play. It has the highest hit frequency. So, you put $200 on Ante/Play. One could argue you could put all your money on Ante/Play.
This will depend on what your chances are of getting a wildcard spot. You either win the hand and the table, or your opponent hits big too (on a side bet).You at least increase your chances of winning a wild or you lose the hand and you’re done. This last outcome is no different than winning the hand for a little, finishing second at your table and not having enough to be a wildcard.
You just have to remember that being in the middle of the pack is no different than finishing dead last. Either way, you’re out of the money. This does change in the Final round when all 7 players win a prize. I don’t have the prize list yet, but at this point, you’ll have to make some hard decisions about how much you want to risk which could cause you to drop in rank and cut into your winnings.
Getting into this tournament is not going to be easy, so how likely is one of my readers going to get in? It is not just about this tournament. Many table game tournaments are structured this way and it is important to realize that much of the basics of Expert Strategy go out the window.
Knowing what to expect will guide you in the specific choices just be made.
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Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is www.gambatria.com. Contact Elliot at [email protected].