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Three Card Pokers

This game is growing in popularity because it combines the best of Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. Your objective is to beat the dealer's hand but, in this case, you have a three-card hand instead of a five-card hand. You also have the option of a side bet called Pair Plus, which is paid out independent of your decision against the dealer, with a fixed bonus schedule, similar to a slot machine. There are three types of bets, including Pair Plus-the other two are Ante and Play. The rules of play are described here. Note that in these games, a three-card hand of three-of-a-kind beats a straight or flush because three like cards are more difficult to get than a three-card flush or straight. The house edge is a little less than 2.5 percent.

Step 1. The players make their Pair Plus and Ante bets. Either one or both bets may be made.

Step 2. The dealer deals three cards to each player and himself. After you look at your three cards, you must decide whether you wish to "play" the hand or fold and take no further part in this hand. If you fold, you lose your ante bet.

Step 3. To stay in the hand, you make a bet in the Play box equal to your ante bet. Now you are in the games and playing against the dealer.

Step 4. After all the players have made their decisions, the dealer turns over his three cards and determines whether he has a qualifying hand. If the dealer does not have at least a queen-high or better hand, the players win the ante bets and have their play bets returned. If the dealer qualifies with queen-high or better, he settles all the hands.
In a dealer-qualifying hand, if your hand is better than the dealer's, you collect even money on the ante and play bets. If not, you lose both bets. Note that even if you lose both the ante and play bets with an inferior hand, you do collect a bonus on the ante bet even with a losing hand.

Straight flush

: 5 to 1


: 4 to 1


: 1 to 1

Flush or lower

: zero

If you have made a Pair Plus bet, you are paid according to the schedule in Table 8. If your hand doesn't qualify for a bonus, you lose the Pair Plus bet. Note that it has nothing to do with whether you win or lose your ante and play bets. Also note the three-card hierarchy: Three-of-a-kind is more difficult to get than straights and flushes, and a straight is more difficult to get than a flush.

Straight flush

: 40 to 1

Three- of-a-kind

: 30 to 1


: 6 to 1


: 4 to 1


: 1 to 1

All other hands

: players loses

Your decisions in Three Card Poker are whether to make the Pair Plus bet, how much to bet on Ante, and depending on your three cards, whether to fold or make the Play bet.

Since there is no possibility of achieving an advantage in this game, we recommend avoiding the Pair Plus bet until you are comfortably ahead from the Ante and Play bets. Then, with luck on your side, make a Pair Plus bet when you feel lucky or have a hunch on that next hand.

As far as the Play bet is concerned, it seems logical that you follow the dealer. If the dealer must have a queen-high or better to qualify, you should, too. Therefore, fold your hand if it's less than a queen high. Let the dealer have the Ante bet and avoid the risk of losing that play bet on an inferior hand.

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