Finding an edge in 3-card poker

May 15, 2001 10:28 AM

A new poker game has started to generate a following of players. It’s called Three Card Poker, and it combines the head-to-head excitement of blackjack, where player goes against the dealer, and Caribbean Stud, in which players are paid for attaining a minimum hand.

Here’s how it works:

The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards on a blackjack-style table. Both the player and dealer get three cards face down.

There are actually two "objects" to the game. The first is to hope your poker hand beats the dealer’s poker hand. The other object, which is also a separate bet, is that your three-card hand will be a least a pair or higher.

Prior to the deal, you must determine which bet or bets you want to make.

If you want to compete against the dealer’s hand you make a bet on the Ante spot. If instead you want to bet that your three-card hand will be at least a pair or higher, then you would wager on the Pair Plus box. The betting spots for making these wagers are located directly in front of each player.

If you decide to play against the dealer and bet the Ante, the play begins with the dealer giving you and himself three cards face down. You pick up your cards, look at them, and decide whether you want to stay in the game or fold. If you want to stay, you must make another equal bet in the "Play" betting spot. If you decide instead to fold, you would place your cards face down on the layout toward the dealer, and you forfeit your Ante bet.

After all the players have decided to play or fold, the dealer will look at his cards. If the dealer has a queen or higher, then his hand "qualifies" and play will continue against the remaining players.

If the dealer doesn’t have a queen or higher, he will automatically pay each player who stayed in the game (i.e. wagered on the Play) even money on the Ante wager and return the Play wager to the player (it’s a push).

When the dealer’s hand qualifies but your hand has a higher poker rank than his, you win your Ante and Play wagers at even money. If instead the dealer’s hand beats your hand, you lose both your Ante and Play wagers.

If you don’t want to compete against the dealer’s hand, your other betting option is to bet on the Pair Plus. You win if your three-card hand contains at least a pair or higher. The higher the poker rank, the greater the payout. You lose the Pair Plus bet if you end up with less than a pair. These are paid regardless of the dealer’s hand.

Straight Flush 40 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind 30 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair 1 to 1

Stanley Ko in his ground-breaking booklet Mastering the Game of Three Card Poker mathematically developed an optimum playing strategy. He recommends making the Play wager only if you hold a Queen-6-4 hand or better.

The casinos’ edge for the Pair Plus is 2.3 percent and for the Ante wager it’s 3.4 percent based on the initial bet, or 2.0 and 2.3 percent respectively based on the total money bet. Compared to the similar Caribbean Stud Poker and Let it Ride poker games, Three Card Poker is actually a better deal for the player. Of course, it always helps to be lucky, regardless of the house advantage!

IGT’s new ”˜Catch A Wave’ slot is a banzai, dude!

Resin up your board and get ready for IGT’s new gaming sensation, the Catch A Wave video slot. Players will want to sing right along with the Beach Boys as they perform their ever-popular hit tune the game is named after. The Catch A Wave theme is pure fun that’s wet and wild, and hot as a sizzling summer day.

As the weather heats up in Las Vegas, it’s a natural to want to try to Catch a Wave in the casinos.

Animated reel symbols are just one part of the fun. A comical seagull and surprise action events bring smiles and laughs, win or lose. In fact, the whole video screen is filled with colorful excitement. The enhanced stereo sound system really brings the Beach Boys to life, and adds a compelling dimension to all the game’s features and effects.

Cowabunga! Reel symbols include satirical surfing personalities that animate and offer unexpected, hilarious remarks. The Catch A Wave reel image animates and shimmers, and substitutes for any other symbol in a winning combination.

The game screen features a lively and inviting seascape, framed by a thatched beach hut where all the slot reel action happens. Active paylines are even decked out with seashell credit markers. The attract mode is entertaining as well, with a hot dogger shootin’ the curl, tempting players to join in.

The Catch A Wave game rewards assertive play with a higher hit frequency when more lines are bet - there are 15 of them - and bigger win amounts when more coins are wagered. The game accepts up to 20 coins per line - or 300 per spin - and is offered as a nickel game, or may be configured for multi-denomination play. It’s available in all popular upright and slant-top configurations, and features dazzling glass graphics that include caricature images of our energetic band of surfers.

Wave Bonus Action

When the Big Kahuna "free game" bonus rolls in, surf’s up and so is the excitement! The number of free games is determined by how many Catch A Wave symbols start the bonus. All symbols become scatter pays, creating a high tide of animated action with waves of bonus spins racking up credits, perfectly synchronized with hip Beach Boys surfin’ music. The playful seagull dances to the music and squawks approval to complete the bonus.

The Surfboard Club Pick a Board bonus adds interactive touchscreen variety that’ll have players hangin’ ten again and again. When three or more Surfboard Club symbols line up, the player picks from one to five of the boards, and wins the number of coins hidden behind each pick.

Values of any boards not chosen are then revealed to show what was riding on the other choices. The theme song plays as credits won are added to the credit meter. Grab your board, Dude! Here comes another big set! Banzai!