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Games like 3-Card Poker are called “carnival games” by dealers. The game belongs to a genre of new games that are geared toward younger players and players that don’t consider themselves “skilled” gamblers.
3-Card Poker is very simple to play and is actually two games in one. Each player receives three cards. You are playing against the dealer, not the other players.
First, we’ll look at the layout and the bets.
The first game is the “Pair Plus” bet. For this bet you get paid if you have a pair or better. You’ll get 1:1 on a pair and a bonus amount for straights, flushes, 3 of a kind and straight flushes. We’ll talk more about the Pair Plus bet in the strategy section.
The second game starts with the “Ante” bet.
After you make your Ante bet, the dealer will deal all players 3 Cards. After looking at the cards, players decide whether they wish to continue in the hand. If so, they place a “Play” bet equal to the Ante Bet.
After all players have made their bets, the dealer shows her three cards. The dealer must have at least a Queen high to “qualify”. If the dealer does not qualify, players are paid for their Ante bet and the Play bet is returned to the player.
If the dealer qualifies the game proceeds like regular poker. If the dealer’s hand is better than the player’s, the house wins the Ante and Play bets. If the player’s hand is best the player wins both bets. Bonus payouts are given for 3 of a kind and straight flushes.
The Pair Plus bet is paid regardless of who wins the hand.
Game Strategy: Selecting a Table
First try to find a game with that offers the best payouts. The best game is one that offers 4:1 on a flush and 6:1 on a straight.
Here are some of the more common paytables for the Pair Plus bet:
Hand Paytable 1 Paytable 2 Paytable 3 Paytable 4 Paytable 5 Paytable 6
Straight Flush 40 35 40 35 50 40
3 of a Kind 30 33 25 25 30 30
Straight 6 6 6 6 6 5
Flush 4 4 4 4 3 5
Pair 1 1 1 1 1 1
Every player of course hopes to hit the straight flush bonus, but look for the better odds on the most likely hands. Games offering the odds in our first two paytables would be our choice.
Now here’s the Ante Bonus:
Hand Paytable 1 Paytable 2 Paytable 2
Straight Flush 5 4 3
3 of a Kind 4 3 2
Straight 1 1 1
Most casinos use the first paytable. We suggest you avoid any other game.
Game Strategy: Playable Hands
Because of the need for the dealer to qualify, the hands you should choose to play will make any regular poker player blanche. Basically you should play any hand Queen or better. If you have a Queen-6-4, you are a statistical favourite to win.
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