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Last Updated: May 21, 2015
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Three Card Poker
- Player makes an Ante and/or Pairplus bet
- The dealer gives each player three cards and himself three cards. The player may examine his own cards. The dealer's cards are dealt face down.
- If the player made the Ante bet, then he has 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 Pairplus bet will pay entirely based on the poker value of the player's hand, as shown in the Pairplus section below.
Hand Order and Probabilities in Three Card Poker
|Three of a kind||52||0.002353|
|Ace High or Less||16440||0.743891|
Ante and Play Analysis
Various pay tables are known to exist for the Ante Bonuses. The table below shows the various pay tables known, the contribution to the return for each and, and the overall house edge and element of risk for each pay table. The vast majority of tables follow pay table #1.
Ante Bet Bonus
|Hand||Table 1||Table 2||Table 3||Table 4||Table 5||Table 6|
|Three of a kind||4||3||2||3||8||10|
|Element of Risk||2.01%||2.28%||2.56%||2.16%||0.93%||0.20%|
In case you're wondering, tables 5 and 6 can be found at Internet casinos using Gamesys N.V. software. With table 6 the player must pay a 10% commission on any net win per gambling session.
The next table shows the probability and return for each net win under the table 1 Ante bonuses.
Ante Return Table
Here is another way of presenting the same information, broken down by the outcomes between player and dealer and Ante bonus.
Ante Return TableExpand
|Player wins with straight flush||7||617,044||0.001515||0.010608|
|Player has straight flush, dealer doesn't qualify||6||266,196||0.000654||0.003923|
|Player wins with three of a kind||6||665,776||0.001635||0.009811|
|Player ties with straight flush||5||144||0.000000||0.000002|
|Player has three of a kind, dealer doesn't qualify||5||288,960||0.000710||0.003548|
|Player ties with three of a kind||4||-||0.000000||0.000000|
|Player loses with straight flush||3||968||0.000002||0.000007|
|Player wins with straight||3||8,975,484||0.022044||0.066131|
|Player loses with three of a kind||2||3,312||0.000008||0.000016|
|Player has straight, dealer doesn't qualify||2||4,001,004||0.009826||0.019653|
|Player wins with flush or less||2||87,096,380||0.213906||0.427813|
|Player ties with straight||1||18,288||0.000045||0.000045|
|Player has flush or less, dealer doesn't qualify||1||80,937,492||0.198780||0.198780|
|Player ties with flush or less||0||249,216||0.000612||0.000000|
|Player loses with straight||-1||270,504||0.000664||-0.000664|
|Player loses with flush or less||-2||91,126,832||0.223805||-0.447610|
Overall on the ante the probability of a win is 44.91%, push 0.06%, and loss 55.03%.
Mini Royal rules
Some casinos now offer a line item for a Mini Royal in the Ante Bonus pay table. A Mini Royal is a suited AKQ. Following are pay tables I have seen or heard to exist. The bottom row shows the overall house edge on the Ante bet for the given pay table.
Mini Royal Summary Table
|Hand||Table 1||Table 2||Table 3|
|Mini Royal in Spades||50||50||10|
|Three of a kind||3||6||4|
|Element of Risk||4.06%||2.84%||1.96%|
Mini Royal Ante Bonus locations:
Pay Table 1: Wynn, Las Vegas
Pay Table 2: Casino Arizona
Pay Table 3: Borgata, Atlantic City; Galewind Internet casinos
The following table shows the probability and return for the most common pay table of the Pairplus bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 7.28%.
Pairplus Return Table
|Three of a Kind||30||52||0.002353||0.070588|
The following two tables show various pay tables for Pairplus. It used to be that the only table was pay table 1. Now, pay table 7 is the norm. The only casino in southern Nevada that I know of to still offer table 1 is the Pioneer in Laughlin. Bovada offers pay table 1 in its online casino. The Borgota in Atlantic City offers pay table 11 as the "Three Card Bonus Bet" in Let it Ride.
In 2007 some casinos added a "Mini Royal" to the pay table. A Mini Royal is a suited ace/king/queen.
The following two pay tables show the house edge of various Pairplus pay tables, both with and without the Mini Royal.
Pairplus Pay Tables — Without Mini RoyalExpand
|Three of a kind||30||33||25||25||30||30||25||30||32||38|
In case you're wondering, tables 9 and 10 can be found at Internet casinos using Gamesys N.V. software. With table 10 the player must pay a 10% commission on any net win per gambling session.
Pairplus Pay Tables — With Mini Royal
|Three of a kind||25||30||30||30||30||30|
The next table shows the probability and return for net win assuming the player bets equally on the Ante and Pairplus, assuming the most common pay tables of 1/4/5 on the Ante Bonus and 1/3/6/30/40 on the Pairplus. The lower left cell shows an expected loss of -.10649 units on a two unit initial bet. So the house edge of the combined bet would be -.10649/2 = -0.053245, or a house edge of 5.32%
Combined Return Table
Overall betting equally on the Ante and Pairplus on the pay tables stated above the probability of a win is 32.06%, push 13.23%, and a loss 54.71%.
Three Card Poker Progressive
I have seen two versions of the progressive side bet in Three Card Poker. Both cost $1 to play and pay a progressive jackpot for a royal flush in spades. Both versions also feature an envy bonus if another player gets a royal flush.
What I will call version 1 I first noticed at the Fitzgerald's in Las Vegas on February 4, 2009. It is a $1 wager that pays according to the pay table below. All wins are on a "for one" basis, in other words the player does not get back his original wager, even if he wins.
Three Card Poker Progressive — Version 1
|Mini Royal in spades||Jackpot||$100|
|Three of a Kind||$90||$0|
The return depends on the jackpot amount and number of other players. To be specific, it is 47.87%, plus 4.52% for each $1000 in the jackpot, and 0.79% per number of other players. To break even the meter needs to be $11,520, less $175 for each other player.
What I will call version 2 I saw at the Casino Caribbean in Yakima Washington in June 2014. The most notable difference compared to version 1 is that version 2 pays for a straight as well.
Three Card Poker Progressive — Version 2
|Mini Royal in spades||Jackpot||$100|
|Three of a Kind||$60||$0|
The return depends on the jackpot amount and number of other players. To be specific, it is 54.39%, plus 4.52% for each $1,000 in the jackpot, and 0.79% per number of other players. To break even the meter needs to be $10,800, less $175 for each other player.
What I will call version 3 I saw at the Red Rock casino in Las Vegas in September 7, 2018. It is based on the player's three cards and two other cards. I am not sure which other two cards are used, as the table was closed at the time I saw it. It is a $1 "red light" bet. The following table shows the pay table. Wins are on a "for one" basis.
Three Card Poker Progressive — Version 3
|Straight flush||10% of Jackpot||$300|
|Four of a kind||$300|
|Three of a kind||$9|