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Last Updated: September 1, 2016

Three Card Poker — Florida Variant

Introduction

This page details what I call the Florida variant of Three Card Poker. It is played at some player-banked card rooms in Florida where conventional Three Card Poker would not conform to Florida law. Seminole tribal casinos are exempt from these laws and thus may and do offer conventional Three Card Poker.

It is my understanding that the pertinent law in the Florida card clubs is that every bet must be based on beating an opponent. Thus, to conform to the law, it is a requirement of the Pairplus bet that the player beat the "dealer." The Ante bonus is completely eliminated. The rest of this page details the rules and odds of Three Card Poker under the Florida rules.

Rules



There are two bets, the Ante and Pairplus. The player may bet one or both.

Ante Bet rules

  1. A single 52-card deck is used.
  2. The player makes an Ante bet.
  3. 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.
  4. If the player made the Ante bet, then he has must either fold or raise.
  5. If the player folds, then he forfeits his Ante wager.
  6. If the player raises, then he must make an additional Play bet, equal exactly to his Ante bet.
  7. The dealer will turn over his cards.
  8. The dealer needs a queen high or better to qualify.
  9. If the dealer does not qualify, then the player will win even money on the Ante bet and the Play bet will push.
  10. 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.
  11. If the player has the higher poker hand, then the Ante and Play will both pay even money.
  12. If the dealer has the higher poker hand, then the Ante and Play will both lose.
  13. If the player and dealer tie, then the Ante and Play bets will push.


Pairplus rules

  1. As with the Ante bet, the player and dealer each receive three cards from a 52-card deck.
  2. The poker value of each hand will be compared, the higher hand wins. The ranking of poker hands is shown below.
  3. If the player has at least a pair and the higher hand, then the Pairplus bet will pay according to the pay table below.
  4. If the player has less than a pair or the lower hand, then the Pairplus bet shall lose.
  5. If the player and dealer have exactly equal poker hands of a pair or greater, then the Pairplus bet shall push.
  6. I'm getting conflicting reports on what happens if the player and dealer tie with less than a a pair. Some say it is a push and others say it is a loss. It seems to me that losing would be the more logical rule.


Ranking of poker hands

  1. Straight flush.
  2. Three of a kind.
  3. Straight.
  4. Flush.
  5. Pair.
  6. Trash (all other).


The following is the pay table for winning Pairplus wagers. All pays are on a "to one" basis.

Pairplus Pay Table

Event Pays
Mini Royal 200
Straight flush 40
Three of a kind 30
Straight 4
Flush 3
Pair 2
Trash Loss


For those familiar with conventional Three Card Poker rules, here are the differences:

  • Ante: There is no Ante bonus.
  • Pairplus: The player must beat the dealer to win. A conventional pay table is used, except pays 2 to 1 on a pair. Opinions vary on what happens on a tie.


Analysis



The following table shows my analysis of the Ante bet. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 8.68% (ouch!). The player will make the raise bet 67.42% of the time, for an average final wager of 1.6742 units. That makes the Element of Risk 5.17%.

Ante Analysis

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Player wins 2 97,354,684 0.239101 0.478201
Dealer doesn't qualify 1 85,493,652 0.209970 0.209970
Push 0 267,648 0.000657 0.000000
Player folds -1 132,652,800 0.325792 -0.325792
Dealer wins -2 91,401,616 0.224480 -0.448960
Total 407,170,400 1.000000 -0.086580


The next table shows my analysis of the Pairplus bet if all ties result in a push. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.23%.

Pairplus Analysis — All Ties Push

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Player wins with Mini Royal 200 73,684 0.000181 0.036193
Player wins with straight flush 40 809,556 0.001988 0.079530
Player wins with three of a kind 30 954,736 0.002345 0.070344
Player wins with straight 4 12,976,488 0.031870 0.127480
Player wins with flush 3 18,928,820 0.046489 0.139466
Player wins with pair 2 57,094,704 0.140223 0.280446
Tie 0 450,528 0.001106 0.000000
Player wins with trash -1 315,881,884 0.775798 -0.775798
Total 407,170,400 1.000000 -0.042338


The next table shows my analysis of the Pairplus bet if ties with a non-paying hand (like K-9-5) lose. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 4.34%.

Pairplus Analysis — Tie with Trash Loses

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Player wins with Mini Royal 200 73,684 0.000181 0.036193
Player wins with straight flush 40 809,556 0.001988 0.079530
Player wins with three of a kind 30 954,736 0.002345 0.070344
Player wins with straight 4 12,976,488 0.031870 0.127480
Player wins with flush 3 18,928,820 0.046489 0.139466
Player wins with pair 2 57,094,704 0.140223 0.280446
Tie 0 32,952 0.000081 0.000000
Loss -1 316,299,460 0.776823 -0.776823
Total 407,170,400 1.000000 -0.043364


Strategy



Between the two bets, the Pairplus offers the better odds, regardless of the tie rule. If you must play, I would recommend playing that only. However, if you must play the Ante, the strategy is the same as for conventional Three Card Poker — raise with Q-6-4 or higher.





Written by: Michael Shackleford

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