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Ask the Slot Expert: My take on Three Card Poker

11 May 2022

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: What is your take on Three Card Poker?

It seems like a game that seems to be one a lot of people play. The tables seem to be full.

Answer: I usually stay in my lane and stick to writing about slots and video poker, but I'll give you my thoughts on Three Card Poker.

Three Card Poker was created by Derek Webb, an international poker player, in 1994. He wanted to develop a game that took the best parts of Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride and was faster to play. He also wanted to structure the game so that players would make the three bets available to them more frequently than on those two games. Three Card Poker could then have a lower house edge. The operator would also make win more money despite the lower edge because players would bet more.

Those two combined features [faster play, more bets] meant that it could go with a lower house advantage than either of those games, and at the same time, create a higher win for the operator. So, in effect, you're serving both sides of the table better than what was already out there.

[Interview in Global Gaming Business]

Playing Three Card Poker: First, players place their Ante and/or PairPlus bets. Then the dealer deals three cards to each player and himself face down.

After looking at their cards, players who made the Ante bet must either fold or raise. If they fold, they lose their Ante bet. If they raise, they place an additional bet equal to their Ante in the Play box.

Now the dealer turns over his cards. The dealer needs queen high to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, then Ante bets win even money and Play bets push.

If the dealer qualifies, then each player's hand is compared against the dealer's. The higher hand wins. The hand order is: straight flush, three of a kind, straight, flush, pair, high card.

The Ante and Play bets are paid off just the way you'd expect. If the player has the higher hand, Ante and Play pay even money. If the dealer has the higher hand, both bets lose. If the player and dealer tie, both bets push.

The Pairplus wager is paid according to the paytable printed on the felt. This bet is decided separately from the competition with the dealer's hand.

Some casinos offer a bonus on the Ante bet based on some combination of the player's hand; whether the player won, lost or tied; and whether the dealer qualified.

There are many other variations described on the Wizard's site.

Webb said that Three Card Poker incorporates aspects of Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. It also combines aspects of blackjack and video poker. Like blackjack, players play against the dealer. And like video poker, players play against a paytable.

I have yet to see any new table game offer a house edge similar to those of blackjack or craps. The new table games don't require much, if any, skill to play. In many cases they're like a slot machine -- your only decision is how much to bet.

Three Card Poker is no exception. Looking over the various paytables on the Wizard's site, the house edge ranges from about 3% to 7% on the various bets and paytables.

According to the Wizard, the optimal strategy for Ante and Play is to raise only if you have queen/6/4 or better. (That is, what's your high card? If it's king or ace, raise. If it's jack or lower, fold. If it's a queen, what's your second highest card? If it's 7 or higher, raise. If it's 5 or lower, fold. If it's a 6, look at your last card. If it's 4 or greater, raise, otherwise fold.

My take is that if you're looking to minimize house edge, the casino probably has video poker machines that have much lower house edges. But if you're looking for a game that doesn't require much brain power and gives you a chance to socialize with the dealer and the other players, Three Card Poker is a good choice.

Derek Webb, Global Gaming Business
Three Card Poker, wizardofodds.com
Three Card Poker, Wikipedia


I want to clear some more items that have collected in my rant folder.

On Bill Maher's 02/04/22 show:

Bill Maher: Biden said, "You're not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations." [Town hall on 7/21/21]

I already knew that was wrong then and now we all do.

On Maher's 04/08/22 show:

David Leonhardt: The vaccines work incredibly well.

Bill Maher: Well, not in the what they said they would work for. Half. They stop you from dying. Let's be happy about that. Let's not get it wrong. They were telling us they would stop infection and they would stop transmission. They didn't do that.

DL: Delta changed that.

So, if Leonhardt is right and the delta variant "changed that", then pre-delta the vaccines did prevent some infections and transmissions.

The Commonwealth Fund recently published an estimate of the effects of the vaccines: "Through March 2022, we estimate that COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the U.S. prevented over 2 million deaths and 17 million hospitalizations (Table 1). There would have been an estimated 66 million additional infections and nearly $900 billion in associated health care costs in the absence of vaccination." (Impact of U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts: An Update on Averted Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Health Care Costs Through March 2022)

"Before the emergence of the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), vaccination reduced transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from vaccinated persons who became infected, potentially by reducing viral loads. Although vaccination still lowers the risk of infection, similar viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated persons who are infected with the delta variant call into question the degree to which vaccination prevents transmission." Effect of Covid-19 Vaccination on Transmission of Alpha and Delta Variants

The bottom line is that the vaccine may not prevent you from being infected, but it does prevent some people from being infected and, unfortunately, the vaccines are less effective at preventing infection with the new variants.

On Maher's 04/08/22 show:

David Leonhardt: What does it mean to take it [Covid] seriously enough? Does it mean to keep kids out of school for months at a time -- which we did -- even though they were at very low risk? I don't think it does.

Before we had vaccines and treatments, the only thing we could do was to try to prevent the spread. Kids may be at low risk, but their teachers, other school employees, and parents are not.

Furthermore, if kids tend to have mild or asymptomatic cases, parents would send them to school, where they could spread the infection like pint-size Typhoid Mary's. The fact that kids had mild cases might be one of the best reasons to close schools to lessen the spread.

DL: Does it mean to wear masks even though if you're not wearing a KN95 or N95 mask, they have vanishingly little effect.

I don't know what number qualifies as "vanishing little". A study (Effectiveness of Face Mask or Respirator Use in Indoor Public Settings for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Infection — California, February–December 2021) by the California Department of Public Health agrees that xN95 respirators are best, but says that other types of masks have more than "vanishingly little effect."

The findings of this report reinforce that in addition to being up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, consistently wearing face masks or respirators while in indoor public settings protects against the acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection (9,10). This highlights the importance of improving access to high-quality masks to ensure access is not a barrier to use. Using a respirator offers the highest level of protection from acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection, although it is most important to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator that is comfortable and can be used consistently.

Back to another statement from David Leonhardt:

If we kept every kid in America home for the next month from school, would we reduce Covid cases? Yes, we would.

Didn't he just justify closing schools before we had vaccines and treatments when the only thing we could do was to reduce the spread?

David Leonhardt: I'm sure you remember when they told us don't wear masks because we need to keep them for the people who are in the hospitals, right?

Then on Maher's 04/22/22 show:

Caitlin Flanagan: CDC said better not wear a mask because you'll trap the Covid close to your face and you'll die instantly that way.

I remember hearing something like this, but it didn't come from people who knew what they were talking about. I wasn't able to find anything online from the CDC saying that a mask will trap Covid close to your face and you would die instantly. I rate this statement a lie.

CF: They were just lying. They were just trying to save the masks.

And then they're like, why have you lost faith in America's institutions?

Well, because you lied to us at a really scary time and we could have handled the truth.

It is true that Dr. Redfield, former CDC director, said that you didn't need to wear a mask unless you were sick or caring for someone who is sick. After we found out how prevalent asymptomatic infection was, the guidance changed. (CDC: An about face on face masks?)

It is also true that Jerome Adams, the former surgeon general, tweeted on 02/29/20: "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

The primary goal of his tweet was to ensure that masks were available to healthcare providers. Around that time, I tried to buy antiseptic wipes but couldn't find any locally. I ordered some from Amazon, but the order ended up being canceled because I wasn't a healthcare institution.

To quote Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "You can't handle the truth."

Let's play out a few scenarios, Caitlin. The CDC recommends medical-grade masks for everyone, but asks that we hold off on buying them until the supply is increased to ensure that healthcare providers have them.

How many people will wait? Won't thousands and thousands of people just think that the dozen or so masks they're taking won't really affect the supply for healthcare workers?

Or this scenario: The CDC recommends masks but sales are restricted to healthcare institutions until there is more supply. What's the sense of recommending something people can't do?

I still come to the conclusion that I made the best recommendation I could to the American people based on the information that I had in the circumstances that were taking place at the time.

The WHO and the CDC were saying the same thing that I was saying, so the science supported me. We knew that supplies weren't there for health care workers, so there was a further crisis being created because of hoarding of masks. And we didn't have the information that we needed from China about asymptomatic spread.

The fact is, once that information trickled out of China and we then knew that it might be helpful for people to wear masks, we changed those recommendations. That's how science is supposed to work.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams calls for masking 'compassion'

Many people are using knowledge gained only recently to criticize yesterday's decisions.


Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).


Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths 
 05/10/22   81,842,060   4,665,557   995,371   722,619   130   10,788   534,465   17,934   3,932   2,802   32   11 
 05/03/22   81,307,595   4,647,623   991,439   719,817   98   10,777   432,666   14,755   2,448   2,213   (6)   49 
 04/26/22   80,874,929   4,632,868   988,991   717,604   104   10,728   348,507   12,597   2,446   1,447   (22)   46 
 04/19/22   80,526,422   4,620,271   986,545   716,157   126   10,682   266,330   10,525   3,308   1,232   (37)   497 
 04/12/22   80,260,092   4,609,746   983,237   714,925   163   10,185   228,465   10,343   3,627   1,228   23   53 
 04/05/22   80,031,627   4,599,403   979,610   713,697   140   10,132   203,709   10,312   4,105   1,059   (52)   76 
 03/29/22   79,827,918   4,589,091   975,505   712,638   192   10,056   206,914   9,572   4,083   1,187   5   40 
 03/22/22   79,621,004   4,579,519   971,422   711,451   187   10,016   200,627   8,502   8,178   742   (71)   83 
 03/15/22   79,418,377   4,571,017   963,244   710,709   258   9,933   253,069   17,393   5,492   24,844   (20)   113 
 03/08/22   79,165,308   4,553,624   957,752   685,865   278   9,820   310,308   24,471   9,870   2,099   (101)   116 
 03/01/22   78,855,000   4,529,153   947,882   683,766   379   9,704   465,845   33,261   14,988   6,421   (189)   196 
 02/22/22   78,389,155   4,495,892   932,894   677,345   568   9,508   551,462   46,726   12,797   4,023   (297)   173 
 02/15/22   77,837,693   4,449,166   920,097   673,322   865   9,335   1,005,691   67,963   17,059   5,280   (375)   149 
 02/08/22   76,782,002   4,381,203   903,038   668,042   1,240   9,186   1,769,556   92,750   18,185   11,144   (387)   235 
 02/01/22   75,012,446   4,288,453   884,853   656,898   1,627   8,951   3,193,570   121,420   17,885   26,555   (344)   191 
 01/25/22   71,818,876   4,167,033   866,968   630,343   1,971   8,760   5,102,999   143,329   16,393   57,574   99   133 
 01/18/22   66,715,937   4,023,704   850,575   572,769   1,872   8,627   4,983,654   147,105   13,301   25,927   (1,787)   99 
 01/11/22   61,732,283   3,876,599   837,274   546,842   3,659   8,528   5,421,565   139,572   12,168   32,486   2,594   100 
 01/05/22   56,310,718   3,737,027   825,106   514,344   1,065   8,428   3,501,427   104,272   8,867   20,966   276   61 
 12/28/21   52,809,291   3,362,755   816,239   493,378   789   8,367   1,693,987   63,185   11,127   7,977   89   56 
 12/21   51,115,304   3,569,570   805,112   485,401   700   8,311   1,063,296   55,734   9,102   5,639   9   110 
 12/14   50,052,008   3,513,836   796,010   479,762   691   8,201   853,262   57,885   8,946   5,008   17   91 
 12/07   49,198,746   3,455,951   787,064   474,754   674   8,110   821,215   66,191   8,575   5,011   23   125 
 11/30   48,377,531   3,389,760   778,489   469,743   651   7,985   563,746   28,426   6,309   3,343   (50)   55 
 11/23   47,813,785   3,361,334   772,180   466,400   701   7,930   667,924   41,145   10,754   4,784   (24)   86 
 11/16   47,145,861   3,320,189   761,426   461,616   725   7,844   604,748   63,164   7,862   4,577   22   85 
 11/09   46,541,113   3,257,025   753,564   457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103 
 11/02   46,024,349   3,223,806   745,274   451,500   669   7,656   555,915   38,028   9,226   4,327   45   109 
 10/26   45,468,434   3,185,778   736,048   447,173   624   7,547   488,829   42,265   9,842   4,753   (87)   96 
 10/19   44,979,605   3,143,513   726,206   442,420   711   7,451   578,396   11,963   4,381   136 
 10/12   44,401,209   714,243   438,039   7,315   795,586   14,067   15,710   149 
 10/05   43,605,623   700,176   422,329   7,166   554,194   10,642   3,852   121 
 09/28   43,051,429   689,534   418,477   7,045   817,218   14,463   6,160   165 
 09/21   42,234,211   675,071   412,317   6,880   971,637   14,691   7,466   152 
 09/14   41,262,574   660,380   404,851   6,728   1,176,763   12,919   10,256   145 
 09/07   40,085,811   647,461   394,595   6,583   975,725   10,076   5,237   104 
 08/31   39,110,086   637,385   389,358   6,479   1,113,414   9,385   7,592   173 
 08/24   37,996,672   628,000   381,649   6,306   1,045,491   7,507   8,117   116 
 08/17   36,951,181   620,493   373,649   6,190   959,978   4,715   7,065   150 
 08/10   35,991,203   615,778   366,584   6,040   819,524   3,987   7,652   122 
 08/03   35,171,679   611,791   358,932   5,918   622,832   2,279   7,489   81 
 07/27   34,548,847   609,012   351,443   5,837   652,251   2,394   8,347   79 
 07/20   33,896,296   606,618   341,096   5,758   169,933   1,478   3,351   28 
 07/13   33,726,363   605,140   339,745   5,730   181,047   1,959   4,982   33 
 07/06   33,545,316   603,181   334,763   5,697   75,104   1,373   2,234   27 
 06/29   33,470,212   601,808   332,529   5,670   87,507   2,057   3,020   24 
 06/22   33,382,705   599,751   329,509   5,646   75,420   2,157   1,930   22 
 06/15   33,303,285   597,594   327,579   5,624   95,797   2,293   1,560   17 
 06/08   33,207,488   595,301   326,019   5,607   114,250   3,762   2,271   21 
 06/01   33,039,238   591,539   323,748   5,586   123,333   3,709   991   27 
 05/25   32,969,905   587,830   322,757   5,559   174,125   4,234   1,676   26 
 05/18   32,795,780   583,596   321,081   5,533   223,966   4,230   2,301   27 
 05/11   32,571,814   579,366   318,780   5,506   303,856   4,687   2,541   33 
 05/04   32,267,958   574,679   316,239   5,473   343,348   4,908   2,559   40 
 04/27   31,924,610   569,771   313,680   5,433   383,163   4,958   2,747   65 
 04/20   31,541,447   564,813   310,933   5,368   464,556   5,072   2,590   36 
 04/13   31,076,891   559,741   308,343   5,332   480,061   5,321   2,986   57 
 04/06   30,596,830   554,420   305,357   5,275   448,935   7,124   3,084   38 
 03/30   30,147,895   547,296   302,273   5,237   439,510   6,793   939   63 
 03/23   29,708,385   540,503   301,334   5,174   388,928   7,446   1,863   53 
 03/16   29,319,457   533,057   299,471   5,121   381,695   8,362   3,078   81 
 03/09   28,937,762   524,695   296,393   5,040   480,902   11,573   2,413   83 
 03/02   28,456,860   513,122   293,980   4,957   463,356   14,129   2,835   75 

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

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John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots