Poker Corner: online Poker Rules, News, Learning Poker Corner: online Poker Rules, News, Learning

Three Card Poker is easy, fun and a good bet

Some new poker "hybrid" table games come and go. Three Card Poker is here to stay. The game is played with a 52-card deck. There are three wagering spots at each player position: Ante, Play and Pairs Plus (optional). Play starts with everyone making an ante. Each player plus the dealer is dealt three cards face down. The object is to beat the dealer. Once you take a look at your cards, you can either fold and surrender your ante or play by making an additional wager equal to your ante. If your hand beats the dealer, you are paid even money on both bets. The ante also has a bonus pay table for a straight, three-of-a-kind and straight flush. There is a qualifying rule. If the dealer does not have queen high or better, players win their ante bets but play bets are a push. The ante bonus is not affected by the qualifying rule and you are paid even if the dealer's hand beats yours. You can opt to make a Pairs Plus wager even if you don't place an ante. You don't have to beat the dealer and neither does the dealer have to qualify. Any pair pays even money, plus there is a bonus pay table for a straight flush, three-of-a-kind, straight and flush. Strategy is a no-brainer: Just mimic the dealer and you'll keep the house edge to a minimum. Make a play if you're dealt queen high or better, fold if you aren't. Shuffle Master, which owns Three Card Poker, makes 12 different bonus pay tables available to the casinos that lease the game. Distinguishing the bad ones from the good ones will make your decision of where to play the game an easy one. The most liberal ante bonus schedule for players is 5 to1 for a straight flush, 4 to 1 for three-of-a-kind and even money for a straight, which translates into a manageable 2.01 percent house edge on the ante/play bet. On tables that pay just 3 to 1 for three-of-a-kind, the house edge increases to 2.16. Tighten it up even further by paying just 4 to 1 for a straight flush and it climbs to 2.28, on a par with single zero roulette and still quite tolerable. The loosest Pairs Plus bonus schedule comes out to a 2.30 house edge and pays 40 to 1 for a straight flush, 30 to 1 for three-of-a-kind, 6 to 1 for a straight, 4 to 1 for a flush and even money for a pair. Pay just 25 to 1 for three-of-a-kind, however, and it increases to 3.50. Pay 5 to 1 for a straight and it zooms up to 5.60. The worst bonus table gives players just 3 to 1 for a flush, which hikes the house edge to an obscene 7.30. That's definitely one to avoid. Three Card Poker is available at all the casinos in the Chicago area.



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