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 he 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
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
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!