Games involving three cards have been around for a very long time, most notably the game of three card brag, which goes back to the 16th century. Three card games are fairly new to the casino world though, but it does offer the benefit of simplicity which both casinos and casino players tend to love.
Poker has a rich history and is a game that people have really enjoyed playing for a long time, and casinos often will offer it in several forms, although the action does tend to be on the slower side compared to most casino games. In particular, the thought process of players can often result in more deliberation than the casino would prefer, and casinos make money by the hour basically, so the slower the action, the less they tend to make.
This is why, with casino poker, the decisions by the players are simplified, even though there still may be some strategy involved. The art of bluffing is taken out of the game entirely, as is the concern about what hands your opponents may hold, and the goal is to get the games to proceed much like blackjack, where players are simply making decisions whether to stay or fold, much like blackjack has them deciding whether to hit or stand.
So three card poker was invented by poker player Derek Webb in 1994 to come up with a fast paced version that combined the excitement of poker with the speed that casinos desire, and was also easy for players to understand.
Casinos didn’t exactly line up to roll out the new game though and it’s not always easy to promote a new casino game, as while casinos are somewhat open to new ideas, new games compete alongside ones that are already well tried and true and you have to show them that they will really benefit from running a new one.
So after Webb failed to convince casino owners in Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City to give three card poker a try, he then tried his luck at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he agreed to personally train their dealers and teach players the rules for free.
The game proved to be successful and now we see three card poker being offered at a variety of casinos, both live and online. It certainly does have an appeal of its own and a lot of that appeal is indeed the very fast pace of the game, where you can pack a whole lot of action in per hour.
How Three Card Poker Works
Since the game is called three card poker, players are dealt three cards each, and they look to make the best poker hand with them. Actually this is not even a matter of making the best poker hand, it is simply a matter of seeing what poker hand one is dealt, and then comparing it with the three card poker hand dealt to the dealer, and seeing who wins.
So there are no cards drawn here, the cards are just dealt and then revealed and based upon this result, bets are paid out or not. It’s not hard to see that this game was specifically built for speed and achieves this goal very well.
Prior to the deal, players may place two forms of bets, the ante and the pair plus bet. In some casinos the ante is mandatory, but players of course must place one or the other form of bets, or both, in order to participate.
After a player gets dealt his or her hand, they may either fold or place a “play” wager equal to the ante. If they fold, they forfeit the bets they already have made. If they play on, and the dealer does not have a qualifying hand of a queen high or better, the ante bet gets paid out 1:1 and the play bet is returned.
If the dealer has a qualifying hand, and the player wins, both the ante and the play wagers get paid out 1:1. If not, the bets are lost. If the player has a pair or better and placed a pair plus wager, they get paid out according to the strength of the hand, with a pair paying 1:1 and stronger hands earning higher payouts.
How To Play Three Card Poker
Unlike some casino games, the strategy with three card poker is very straightforward. Technically, players should fold hands weaker than Q-6-4, which is easy to remember, although playing on with a queen or better hand is very close to optimal and is also one that players can remember even more easily.
Making pair plus bets should actually be avoided, as the house edge with these bets is quite a bit higher than with the ante and play bets, which is often the case with additional optional bets at casino games generally. The ante and play bets have a very acceptable house edge of around 2%, where the pair plus bets tend to have considerably poorer odds for the player.
Overall, three card poker is a very simple and relaxing way to gamble, which is interesting enough to capture the interest of a lot of players and therefore provide a most entertaining way of spending time at a casino.