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Best of Elliot Frome

Gaming Guru

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Three Card Poker

11 August 2004

Is there any doubt as to which game is the most successful new table game of all time? Three Card Poker, now boasting approxmiately 1000 tables in the U.S. alone, is clearly the winner. Few people realize what it took for the game to go from 'Brit-Brag', as it was originally called by its inventor Derek Webb, to the point of being such a successful game.

Derek spent several months fine tuning the details of the game with my father, Lenny Frome, before taking it on a 2-3 year road trip to casinos and gaming shows all over the country. In a recent conversation with Derek, he told me the key to success for any game is making it a 'must have' for the casino. In other words, if the casino does not have the game on its floor, it will cost the casino customers. Derek managed to make Three Card Poker just that in a variety of locales by the time he sold the game to Shuffle Master in 1999. Shuffle Master was then able to use its much larger sales staff to expand the game to where it is today.

Three Card Poker is really two games in one. You can play either or both. The first game is called Pair Plus and is simply betting that your three card hand will contain at least a Pair. Usually proposition bets of this type have paybacks that leave a lot to be desired. Although many casinos in Las Vegas no longer use the full pay paytables, there are still many that do. Also, locations such as Mohegan Sun and most Atlantic City casinos DO use the full pay versions and these provide a payback of about 97.7%, which is very strong for a no-strategy type of game. In order to achieve this payback, the paytable must look like the following:

Hand
Pays*
Straight Flush
40
Three of a Kind
30
Straight
6
Flush
4
Any Pair
1

*not including the return of the original bet

The other half of Three Card Poker is called Ante/Play. The player gets three cards. He then decides to either 'Fold', surrendering his Ante, or to 'Play', placing an additional 'Play' bet equal to his original Ante. By 'Playing', he is wagering that his hand will beat the Dealer's hand. Once all players have made their decision, the Dealer turns over his cards. The Dealer must have at least a Queen High to qualify. If he does not qualify, the Player wins even money on his Ante, and his Play bet is returned as a push. If the Dealer does qualify and has a better hand than the Player, the Dealer takes both the Ante and Play bets. If the Dealer does qualify and the Player has a better hand, the Dealer pays the Player even money on both the Player's Ante and Play bets. If the hands tie, it is a push.

Additionally, if the Player achieves one of the top three hands, he is paid a bonus, regardless of whether the Dealer qualifies or not. These bonuses typically pay 5 for a Straight Flush, 4 for Three of a Kind and 1 for a Straight.

In Ante/Play, the Player must make a critical decision. Fortunately, given that the Dealer and Player each receive only 3 cards, creating a program to simulate every possible combination was relatively easy. From this, we are able to decide which hands are worth Playing and which should be Folded. Fortunately, the rule to remember is very simple. If the Player has a Q-6-4 or better, he should Play. Otherwise, he should Fold. Using this strategy, the Player can achieve a payback of 97.98%, again a respectable payback for a table game.

For those of you interested in learning more of the details of the game, from how the strategy and math was derived, or more information about what to expect, I created a 10 page booklet entitled Expert Strategy for Three Card Poker. It can be ordered from our website at www.vpheaven.com.

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome
Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome