Depending upon whom you ask, three-card poker is being called the rising star of the gaming world, but just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you won’t face formidable odds if you don’t respect the game. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, there’s no getting around the fact that there are 22,100 ways to extract three-card combinations from a stack of 52 cards, so don’t let the game’s star power fool you into thinking that winning’s a breeze.
Besides, three-card poker has been around the block a few times since it was invented in 1994 and like online communications, the game owes some of its notoriety to its online version. Whether you prefer a noisy, bustling riverboat or land-based gaming emporium–or you prefer the convenience of online poker that’s near enough to the ‘fridge’s beer supply to celebrate wins and losses, strategies you adopt to get from player to winner can make all the difference in the world—particularly if bragging rights are at the top of your wish list.
Strategy One: Know the game. Seriously. Arm yourself with enough knowledge about the unique nature of three-card poker to enhance your chances of winning. Peek at the three cards you are dealt, place your bet and use your intuition to guess whether the dealer has “the key card,” the all-powerful Queen that’s the secret to success.
Strategy Two: Memorize the “holy grail” of three-card poker: Always play the Queen-six-four combination. Always. And never play anything lower. It could be tempting to jump in—especially if your gut is sending you weird signals urging you to defy the odds. Don’t. House advantage will bite you every time.
Strategy Three: Bet Just the Ante Wager. Common sense? You bet. And, of course, there will be times when you go against your better judgment, but if you want to stick around and play longer without getting your feelings hurt, betting just the ante wager always pays even money. Think of it as a way to replenish your personal bank and stick around long enough to draw the winning hand.
Strategy Four: Know when it fold ‘em. This homage to Kenny Rogers says all you need to know about the bottom line of gambling: If the hand you’re playing is lower than the winning three-card poker combination of a Queen, six and four, get out while you’re ahead. The operative word here is “lower”; stick around if the second card dealt is six or higher, but if the third card is lower than six, get out of Dodge.
Strategy Five: Don’t play in a vacuum. You can skip this one if you’ve already qualified yourself as someone who hasn’t the time or wherewithal to head for a local casino, thus you prefer the companionship of your laptop. But if you like a little human company when you win and lose, increase your chances of taking a pot by playing at a busy table since more cards are literally in play before the dealer gets her share.
Strategy Six: Count chairs, not cards. If only half of the seats at the table you’ve chosen for your three-card poker adventure are occupied, savvy poker players recommend staying in only if the hand you’re dealt has at least one Queen and a ten. This conservative strategy can save you from a whole lot of weeping as the cards go down.
Strategy Seven: Employ the “no brainer” strategy if you’ve opted to delve into Pair Plus since there’s only one decision you will have to make: Hold or not. According to experts who know their strategies: there’s a low house advantage of 2.3-percent. Nice odds, particularly since a cool head can land you a 25-percent win enough times to justify favoring the Pair Plus version of three-card poker.
Strategy Eight: Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can out-maneuver the dealer. House advantage reigns supreme in all cases but those involving card counting, cheating and other forms of larceny. Your job is to have a good time and not gamble the dog food money, which is one of the reasons three-card poker is trendy and appealing. Have fun. That’s the name of the game.
Strategy Nine: Sit out a couple of hands. Unless someone is holding your cat hostage and forcing you to play every hand, there’s no law that says you have to stay in for every deal. Grab a beverage, check sports scores and dive into a pizza. Did you know that when a player sticks around and wagers every card shuffle that the house win edge escalates from 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent? Just sayin’.
Strategy Ten: Protect your Bank. Nobody need tell you that the more money you hang on to during your three-card poker time, the longer your play time, so it’s incumbent upon you to keep tabs on your wallet. Need a gimmick? Three-card poker pros suggest putting aside a portion of winning hands and/or bonuses so you have a ready reserve if things start going south. Of course, you could seek out dealers known to reveal one of their cards up front, thus giving you a 3.5-percent advantage, but isn’t your long-term objective to stretch your money for longer play time?