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Last Updated: July 5, 2017

Three Card Poker

Mike: Hi, my name is Mike Shackleford, with the Wizard of Odds website. And I'm here with the lovely Angela Wyman and dealer Dan Lubin. And I'm going to teach you how to play Three Card Poker.

Now before I begin, I know this is not three card poker table. There is not one available where I am. So, we're going to be using this Three Card Blackjack table. But it's the same except this pay table is different and instead of saying Ace Plus here, it says Pair Plus. So just pretend we're playing on a three card poker table.

Now three card poker is arguably, indisputably one of the most successful new casino game, some call them cardable games to come out in a long time. It's easy to find and easy to play very successful game. So, it's basically a three hard poker game but you only play against the dealer. There's two kinds of bets you can make at the beginning, the Ante and the Pair Plus. Let's take it one at a time and just talk about the Ante first.

So, Angela and I will make an Ante bet. And after Dan deals us a hand, I'll explain what comes next.

Okay. Let's see what you got. Angela has a pair of threes with five kicker. So, Angela's choice, is she can either fold or raise her bet. If she raises her bet, she thinks that she's going to have a better three card poker hand than the dealer. A pair is a strong hand, there are better but any pair is definitely worthy of raising. So, what you're going to do, is you're going to put your cards down and you're going to make a play wager equal to the Ante wager. Now let's see what I got. I have two ten king. This is still good enough to raise, it's not a great hand. I'm probably going to lose money. I'm probably going to lose on it. But if I fold, the odds are even worse. So, I'm going to raise to them. Now the dealer is going to deal himself three cards. Dealer has king, five, four.

The dealer extensively has a choice to either fold or call at this point. But the way they present the rules, as they say the dealer needs at least a queen high to open. If the dealer does not have at least queen high, the dealer is going to fold and the player will win, even money on the Ante and the play bet will push. However, Dan opens, so let's see what happens. That's high hand wins.

My king ten beats the dealers king five. So, I win even money on both bets.

Angela wins too. Good beginning. Let's try another hand.

Okay. What you got?

Angela: I have Queen, Six, Two.

Mike: What do you think you should do?

Angela: I think I should fold.

Mike: You're right. This is very close to the borderline hand. The lowest hand mathematically speaking but you should raise on is Queens, Six, Four. You've got Queen, Six, Two. That's just a little bit below the raising point. So, the odds favor folding. So, if you want to fold, just put the cards out there, face up, the dealer will know that you're folding and take your Ante bet. Let's see what I've got. I've got a horrible hand here, Eight high. There's no doubt about it. I'm folding that.

Angela: All right. A little better this time. The King, Five, Three.

Mike: Yes, any King high is good enough to raise. And let's see what I've got. I have a flush. This is definitely worth raising the order of hands by the way in three card poker, goes nothing at all. But a Pair, then a Flush, then a Straight, then a Three of a Kind and then a Straight Flush. So, notice how it doesn't go in the order of five card poker, that's because all the odds are different with three cards. So, flush is a very strong hand. And still lose to a straight but the odds are very good.

Dan: This is how you want me to qualify.

Mike: Yes. So, the dealer barely qualifies.

Dan: And she has. She crushes me with the King. Oh, a blowout.

Mike: Let's play her hand.

Dan: All right.

Angela: Thank you.

Mike: Let's see what you go. Wow.

Angela: Wow.

Mike: Angela has the highest hand, in three card poker, a straight flush, congratulations What are the odds that would happen. [laughs]

Angela: [laughs] You would know.

Mike: So, you're obviously going to raise there and you're going to get a bonus which will explain in a minute. I've got a pair of kings which is a solid hand too, not as good as yours but I'm feeling very good. Dealer doesn't qualify.

Dan: Right.

Mike: Because Dan didn't qualify, I win even money on this and this is a flush. I was hoping he would qualify because then I would probably win here too. But I'll take any win I can get. Now how about Angela. Straight flush. So, Angela is going to win even money on the Ante, just like me, the play will push but she also wins a bonus. This is called the Ante Bonus Rule. This is used to sweeten the odds a little bit in the player's favor. If Angela gets any straight, the Ante bonus will be equal to her Ante. A three of a kind, pays four times the Ante and a straight flush pays the five times the Ante. So here is Angela's bonus. And Angela is entitled to this bonus, no matter what the dealer gets.

She could lose to the dealer and she would still get the bonus and by the way this is a frequently made dealer error. Always to not get a bonus, if the dealer beats you, no. You always get that Ante bonus if you have to qualify again.

Dan: If the dealer qualified, let's say, a King high straight flush, she would lose the ante, she would lose the play, she would lose the ante payout but she would get the bonus for her straight flush.

Mike: Next, let me introduce the Pair Plus Bet. This is like a proposition bet but it pays only based on the value of your own hand. It doesn't make any difference for purposes of the Pair Plus what the dealer gets. And the lowest hand you can win on is a pair. So, any pair better, you're going to win something.

Question 1 - [07:37]

Angela: Can I place the Pair Plus Bet on its own or I still have to place the bet?

Mike: Good question. The answer is no, you can bet just the Pair Plus if you want to. And I have seen players do that. And as long as you maintain the table minimums, you can bet any amount you want on either one of them. For example, a 100 here, five here or the other way around. There is no restrictions.

Dan: All right. Here we go.

Mike: Let's see what you got. Okay.

Angela: Jack-

Mike: Yeah, that doesn't mean the Queen, Six, Four requirements, so the odds favor folding. You can put the face down if you want. It's assumed that if you're folding, you don't have a pair so the dealer will just take this automatically. If you had a, at least a pair, a winning Pair Plus Bet, you should definitely be raising. And I've got garbage too so I'm going to fold.

Dan: Oh, I have straight.

Mike: Oh, then we folding. Let's try another one.

Angela: All right. A little bit this time, eights high.

Mike: Yes, eights high is worth raising on, you're going to lose the Pair Plus but hopefully you'll win the other two. I have garbage again. So, I'm going to fold. And dealer doesn't qualify.

Dan: Loses the Pair Plus, wins only on the Ante because I don't qualify.

Mike: Okay. Let's play another one. Hopefully, we get a winning Pair Plus Bet this time.

Question 2 - [09:23]

Angela: So, while he deals our next, Mike, can you tell me, what's the better bet on this table?

Mike: I'd be happy to, the better bet is on the Ante. With the correct strategy of raising up Queen, Six, Four better, a house advantage on the Ante bet is 2.32%. On the Pair Plus, assuming the usual pay table that goes 1363040, the house it is 3.37%. So, you get better odds of the Ante. So, when I play I bet the Ante only. However, I know the Pair Plus is a popular bet. My advice is if you must bet the Pair Plus, try to bet in moderation on that one and bet more on the Ante. Okay?

Angela: Okay.

Mike: All right, let's see what we got.

Angela: That's more like it. I got a pair of three.

Mike: Okay. Very good. And let's see what I got.

Angela: Oh.

Mike: I've got a straight. Ace two, three, this is the wheel. So, I'm going to raise here. And the dealer has a higher straight. So, I lose the Ante in play because Dan straight is higher but I win six to one on the Pair Plus because for that only my hand matters.

Dan: And you also win on the ante bonus on the losing ante and still pays.

Mike: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Dan: So, you have a total of seven chips, 35 bucks.

Mike: Thank you.

Dan: And she loses playing hand because straight beats a pair but the pair of plus always wins, if you have a pair better.

Mike: Okay. I think that's about, all there is to say about three card poker. One final thing is that the owners of the game Shuffle Master are always coming out with a new side bet sport. And I have only addressed the original version of the game, the Ante playing Pair Plus here, for information about any other side bet in three card poker or any game, check my website all of the odds are there. But I will say, in general, side bets are sucker bets. I recommend you just stay away from all of them when in doubt.

Okay. Thanks Angela. Thanks Dan.

Dan: Okay.