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Stupid Table Games FTW!

June 12, 2011

Courtesy of the ShootingRange.Net

While I generally spend most of my casino time at a poker table, I will occasionally branch out and play other games. My usual vice is blackjack, where I feel like I have at least some control of the action, but every once in a while, I end up playing something else like Pai Gow.

I had some friends in town from LA last night and, after an amazing dinner at Charlie Palmer’s in the Four Seasons, we ended up gambling at Caesar’s. We started with craps, which I enjoy, but don’t really know well enough to play for serious money. Even so, it didn’t take me very long to drop $200 before we decided that the table was cold and that another game would be preferable.

Somehow, that decision led us to three-card poker, which has to be one of the most negative EV games you can play. Of course, that didn’t stop me from putting another $200 on the table. If you’ve never played, the rules are simple. You have to put up a minimum ante in each hand (our table was $10) and you’re dealt three cards with which you have to make your best possible hand. Trips, straights and flushes are all monsters. If your hand beats the dealer, you win.

Like most table games, there are also bonus (sucker) bets where you can parlay your big hands into even more money. There’s a pair or better bonus and a six-card bonus, where you can play your hand in conjunction with the dealer’s hand to make your best five-card poker hand. You must bet an amount equal to your ante if you want to play either of these bonuses and you must play the pair or better bonus if you want to play the six-card bonus.

Once you are dealt a hand, you have to decide whether you want to play it or forfeit. Playing requires you to match your ante again, while forfeiting costs you your ante and pair or better bonus. You can still play the six-card bonus even if you forfeit.

What does all of this mean? Well, if you were playing with our group last night, you were playing both bonuses all night, which means you were wagering between $30 and $40 on every hand you played. Since you often lost the bonuses, breaking even was about the most you could hope for on most hands. If you hit a bonus, however….

I was holding a small but steady profit for most of the session when I caught a nice little run. First, I made a full house using the six-card bonus, which was good for 10-1 on my $10 bet. Then, about a half hour later, I had a shot at some real money.

The cards were dealt and I squeezed my hand to reveal Kd, Qd and, finally, the Jd. A straight flush, which paid a nice little 40-1 on my $10 pair or better bet. As usual, I also had $10 on the six-card bonus, which meant I had a shot of hitting a straight flush that would pay an additional 100-1 or a diamond royal, which if it hit, was worth a cool $1 million.

Needless to say, I had a good sweat as the dealer turned up his cards. It’s also needless to say, I missed the big money. Still, I booked more than $400 on the hand and, after a few more minutes of play, walked away from the table with a nice $600 profit in a stupid, negative EV game.

I just hope I didn’t use up all of my run good for a while.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    June 17, 2011 10:41 am

    Ah yes. Three card poker. Either a slow drain or quick score. The trick is to walk away as fast as possible if you do hit.

    Recently a group of us went took a cruise on Royal Caribbean. Went to the casino and friends who aren’t familiar with any of the games wanted to know what’s the easiest game to play other than roulette. I said I’d blow $100 and show them Three Card. Simple strategy: $5 on the ante, $5 on pair plus. Play anything Q64 or higher and fold everything else.

    Second hand in I get dealt 333. Yay! 30:1 bonus for the three-of-a-kind.

    4 hands later, I look and see three clubs. Thinking I simpy had the flush when one of my friends says, “What if they’re all in a row? You have 789 of clubs”. Bingo! 40:1 bonus for that.

    So, in less than 5 minutes I made enough in the casino to cover the entire cost of the cruise.

    They said, “That was easy, you should play that every night”. I replied, “Just a freak run of luck I could never repeat.”

    And I haven’t played Three Card again since then. Take the money and run 🙂

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