View Full Version : An interesting game I found

05-16-2005, 02:54 AM
Living in South Carolina is quite far from the legal gambling realms. Basically if you want to play poker, you need to play in the back of bars late at night, or with friends. Anyone I made the trek down to Myrtle Beach to go on one of the Casino boats to see if I could find a game there. There was no stud or hold'em game going, but there was a really interesting house game called "3 card poker" or something like that.
The setup was similar to Caribbean stud poker, but with a few advantages. Players place an ante, then are dealt three cards facedown. The dealer deals himself 3 cards facedown. If you believe that you have a better hand than the dealer, you place a bet equal to the ante. The Dealer must have a queen for their hand to qualify. If it does and you win, you win equal to the ante and your second bet. If they do not qualify and you win, you win the size of your ante.
The interesting part is the side-bet which is the "pair or better" bet. Regardless of the outcome, if you make this bet, and you get a pair or better you get odds. Any pair is 1-1, 3 card st8 is 6-1, 3 card flush is 9-1 3 of a kind is 30-1, and 3 card straight flush is 40-1.
I sat down at this game and would usually pu $5 on the ante, and $10 on the pair plus every time I played. I ended up winning about $200.
My question is, how to go about figuring the odds on a game like this, because I looked for it elsewhere(at websites for Vegas and AC casinos) and could not find another game like this.
Have I found a goldmine here? I mean it just seems like the house odds are unbelievably low on this game. How should I go about figuring out my chances in a game like this?

05-16-2005, 04:53 AM
Like all table games the house has a significant advantage. The exact size of the advantage depends on which of several sets of rules is in use, but is around 3% under the most generous rules.

Did you try googling something like "three card poker strategy"? If so, you'd have found a bunch of pages like this one from The Wizard of Odds (http://wizardofodds.com/threecardpoker) that tell you what the odds on each bet are and what the best strategy for the player is.

Also note that straights rank above flushes in 3-card poker: I don't know whether they were paying 3:1 or 4:1 on flushes... but it sure wasn't 9:1! That's full-pay video poker.

05-16-2005, 04:18 PM
I played 3card poker for about a half hour on a cruise this summer. I spent several hours analyzing the optimal play for fun. No, it is not a goldmine, though I thought it would be too, at first.

The optimal play is to play only Q high or higher. By playing more hands, you lose to the dealer too often, and by playing less, you lose your ante too often. The house edge (if I remember correctly) is 9%. Meaning, for every $100 you bet, you will lose $9.

And that's not even counting the side bets. They try to entice you to put money on the side bets, but think about it. A pair pays you 1:1 regardless. That means you have to hit a pair 50% of the time to break even on the bet. Calculate the odds you'll make a pair with three cards and you'll see where I'm going with this.

It's cool that you won so much money, but I'm going to be honest, you got lucky and ran well. If you're gambling for fun, go for it. If you're trying to make a profit, stay away.