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# Three Card Poker, video roulette and blackjack

23 April 2015

QUESTION: I played Three Card Poker for the first time. It was really easy to pick up, and I did OK.

One thing threw me a little. On the Pair Plus, I looked at the payoffs on the table felt, and it said straights paid 6-1 and flushes 3-1. I asked the dealer, “Is that a typo on your table? I’ve never played where straights beat flushes.” He said no, that was right, that it was easier to get flushes in this game.

Is that right?

ANSWER: Yes, it is easier to get flushes than straights in three-card games. There are 22,100 possible combinations of three cards, given that the order in which the cards are dealt doesn’t matter – a heart flush consisting of 6-7-10, 6-10-7, 7-6-10, 7-10-6, 10-6-7 and 10-7-6 counts as one hand, not six.

Of those 22,100 hands, 720 are straights and 1,096 are flushes when we exclude the 48 that are both straights and flushes. Those 48 are listed as straight flushes and pay the top award of 40-1.

Compare that to five-card stud poker, where there are 2,598,960 possible hands. Of those, 5,108 are flushes and 10,200 are straights.

In five-card games, you’ll see straights nearly twice as often as flushes. In three-card games, you’ll see flushes 1.52 times as often as straights. That’s why straights pay more than flushes in Pair Plus. And, to go a step farther, straights outrank flushes in Three Card Poker’s ante-play portion, where your hand must beat the dealer’s.

QUESTION: I wanted to know if you could answer a question for me about video roulette with a single zero. Is the vig about 2.7 percent, as on a single-zero table, or is it higher since it is a slot? Is there anything I should know pro or con before I play?

ANSWER: As long as the payoffs are the same, the house edge is the same on video roulette as on a table. However, you do have to watch the pay table. I've seen machines that pay as low as 32-1 on a single number instead of the table standard 35-1. That raises the house edge all the way to 10.8 percent.

But if you're getting standard payoffs, there is no extra house edge. The one thing you need to watch is that video games play much faster than table roulette, since it takes no time to settle bets and clear away chips. Make sure you're sizing your bets appropriately, given that you make three to five times more bets per hour on a video game.

QUESTION: Is there any difference in the house edge between playing blackjack at a full table and playing head-to-head with the dealer? It seems like players shy away from being the first to sit down at a new table and instead join others. Probably they’re just being sociable, but is there a legitimate odds-based reason not to go head-to-head?

ANSWER: The difference is in the speed of the game. If you play at full seven-player table, you’re playing about 50 to 60 hands per hour. One-on-one with the dealer, it’s more like 200 to 250 hands per hour.

That makes an enormous difference. If you’re betting \$10 per hand, you’re risking \$500 to \$600 hands per hour at the full table, and \$2,000 to \$2,500 per hour playing head-to-head. If you’re a \$25 bettor, make that \$1,250 to \$1,500 at a full table, and \$5,000 to \$6,250 going one-on-one.

Those of us with bankroll limits will push up against them much faster going one-on-one than at a full table.
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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.