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Three Card Poker by aka Wizard of Odds

Three Card Poker is one of the earliest and most successful of a wave of privately owned casino games. It was invented by Derek Webb in 1994 and continues to attract players looking for an easy-to-play poker variation. The idea is simple -- to have a higher-ranking poker hand than the dealer. The player is put to a fold or raise decision after seeing his cards, where an element of strategy comes in.

Rules

  • Player makes an Ante bet. He may also make whatever side bets that are available at this time.
  • The dealer gives each player three cards and himself three cards. The player may examine his own cards. 
  • The player must either fold or raise.
  • If the player folds, then he forfeits his Ante wager.
  • If the player raises, then he must make an additional Play bet, equal exactly to his Ante bet.
  • The dealer will turn over his cards.
  • The dealer needs a queen high or better to qualify.
  • If the dealer does not qualify then the player will win even money on the Ante bet and the Play bet will push.
  • If the dealer qualifies, then the player's hand will be compared to the dealer's hand, the higher hand wins. The order of poker hands is indicated below.
  • If the player has the higher poker hand, then the Ante and Play will both pay even money.
  • If the dealer has the higher poker hand then the Ante and Play will both lose.
  • If the player and dealer tie, then the Ante and Play bets will push.
  • If the player made the Ante bet and has a straight or higher, then the player will receive an Ante Bonus, regardless of the value of the dealer's hand. The most common Ante Bonus pay table is as follows:

Player Hand

Bonus

Straight flush

5 x Ante bet

Three of a kind

4 x Ante bet

Straight

1x Ante bet

There are a host of side bets that may be found on Three Card Poker, but the Pairplus is almost always there. It pays based on the poker-value of the player's cards only. The most common pay table is as follows:

Player Hand

Bonus

Straight flush

40 to 1

Three of a kind

30 to 1

Straight

6 to 1

Flush

3 to 1

Pair

1 to 1

Strategy

The strategy is very simple, raise with Q-6-4 or better, otherwise fold.

Odds

In the base game, the house edge, defined as the ratio of the expected player loss to the Ante bet, is 3.37%. However, the player will raise 68% of the time, for an average final wager of 1.68 units. This makes the element of risk, defined as the ratio of player loss to average final bet, 2.01%.

The house edge on the Pairplus, under the 1-3-6-30-40 pay table is 7.28%.

More Information

There is a wealth of information about the game at our sister-site Wizard of Odds. Other than the basics above, the Wizard covers:

  • Effect of alternate Ante Bonus and Pairplus pay tables
  • A host of other side bets
  • How to adjust your strategy if the dealer inadvertently exposes one of his cards


You may also play for free at our Three Card Poker trainer.

Three Card Poker by Michael Shackleford aka Wizard of Odds Three Card Poker is one of the earliest and most successful of a wave of privately owned casino games. It was invented by Derek Webb in 1994 and continues to attract players looking for an easy-to-play poker variation. The idea is simple -- to have a higher-ranking poker hand than the dealer. The player is put to a fold or raise decision after seeing his cards, where an element of strategy comes in. Rules Player makes an Ante bet. He...
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