Poker comes in many forms and is usually played away from the main casino area in a designated card room. Texas Hold’em is arguably the most popular game and it is this poker variation that is usually seen on television shows. There are many others though, such as Stud, Omaha and Draw.
There are two distinct poker formats, too – “tournaments” and “ring games”. In a tournament, all players start with an equal number of poker chips and are eliminated once they have lost them. The winner is the player who has possesses all of the chips at the end of the game. In a ring game, poker chips take on real monetary value and a player can simply buy more if they run out.
There is a popular casino table game based on poker, known as “Three Card Poker”, which is discussed in more detail below.
Each form of poker has its own set of rules, but the common element for most poker variants is the order in which hands are ranked, which is as follows (best to worst): Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, High Card.
The simplest way to play the casino table game of Three Card Poker, is “Pair Plus”. This is simply a bet that the player will receive a pair or better and they will be payed according to a pay table; the better the hand, the bigger the payout. The house edge on this bet varies between 2.3% and 7.28%, depending on the exact rules.
The main way to play Three Card Poker, is known as “Ante and Play”. Here, the object of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand. All players place their ante and are dealt a three card hand. If the player wishes to continue, they must place another bet equal to their ante, otherwise they must fold. After all players have decided what to do, the croupier will settle the bets accordingly.
The dealer must have at least Queen high in order to qualify and if the hand is worse, then antes are paid out at even money. If the dealer does qualify, the player must beat the dealer or lose both the ante and play wagers. If the player wins, both the ante and play bets are paid at even money. Ties result in all wagers being returned, though in some rare cases, the casino counts these as player wins.
The “Ante Bonus” is an extra feature which sees players paid extra if they make a straight or better.
Depending on the exact rules, the house edge for Three Card Poker is usually between 3.3% and 4.3%. Although this isn’t the best value for the player, there are many games found in the casino with a much greater edge than Three Card Poker.
The optimal strategy for Three Card Poker is to fold anything weaker than Q-6-4 and to raise with that hand, or better. Assuming the most favourable rules for the player, following this strategy will see players lose 8.66% of their antes, but gain 5.29% from their raises, making for a total house edge of 3.37%.