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Last Updated: September 13, 2017

Poker or Bust

Introduction



Poker or Bust could loosely be described as a hybrid of blackjack and Three Card Poker. It started a Nevada field trial at the Green Valley Ranch on August 16, 2017. I came by to check it out on September 10. The game is rather hard to explain, and even harder to play, so pay attention.

Rules



  1. Six ordinary 52-decks are used.
  2. Cards simultaneously are counted by both blackjack and poker rules. For purposes of the poker hand, cards are scored according to conventional poker rules. For purposes of the blackjack hand, cards are scored according to conventional blackjack rules, except aces are always one point.
  3. Play starts with the player making equal bets on the Ante and Play.
  4. As in blackjack, the dealer will give the player and himself two cards each. One dealer card will be face up and the other face down. There are no "blackjacks" in this game, so there is no reason for the dealer to ever peek at the hole card.
  5. The player may then hit or stand. As in blackjack, the player may hit as many times as he wishes, until he busts. The player will bust if his hand exceeds 31 blackjack points. Note that the player should always hit for a third card as there is no risk of busting with only three cards.
  6. If the player busts, he will lose both the Ante and Play bets.
  7. If at least one player stands, then the dealer will reveal his hole card and hit until he has at least 23 points. In other words, the dealer will hit on 22 or less and stand on 23 or more.
  8. If neither the player nor dealer bust, then both will compete according to the best three card poker hand each can form. Hands are ranked the same was as in Three Card Poker, which is:
    • Royal flush
    • Suited three of a kind
    • Straight flush
    • Three of a kind
    • Straight
    • Flush
    • Jacks or Better
    • Three singletons


  9. If the player has the better hand, then the Ante will pay even money and the Odds according to the pay table below.
  10. If the player has the better hand or the dealer busts, then the Ante will pay even money and the Odds according to the pay table below.
  11. If the dealer has the better hand, then the Ante and Odds bets will both lose.
  12. If the player and dealer tie, then the Ante will push and the Odds bet will pay according to the pay table below.


Odds Bet Pay Table

Hand Pays
Royal flush 10
Suited trips 5
Straight flush 3
Three of a kind 2
Straight 1.5
Flush 1
Pair of jacks or better Push
All other Loss

Analysis



Sorry, you're on your own with this one for now. This one would be a very difficult analysis. With only one placement, forgive me if I don't make it a priority. I requested the math report from INAG, the game owner, but got no reply. I would like to compliment whoever did analyze this one.

Meanwhile, if any of my more mathematically-endowed readers wishes to take a crack at this one, please let me know what you come up with. This is a rare opportunity to get published on the Wizard of Odds.

My Experience



I played the game for about 15 minutes. The table was standing dead when I arrived and no other players showed up. The dealer seemed a little annoyed to have to explain the rules, which is not easy to do quickly. In my 15 minutes I took quite a beating. Many times I was put in a situation of having junk hand at risk of busting if I drew another card. The best hand I ever formed was a straight. Often I was clueless what the correct play was. At these times I sought advice from the dealer, which was always met with a useless comment like "Do whatever you want." At one point a friend of mine came by and asked the dealer how well the game was doing. She said it was not performing well and added, "I don't know why anybody would play this game." It made me feel like a doofus as the one throwing my money way right in front of her.


Written by: Michael Shackleford

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