Texas hold em poker has become huge around the world. 3 card poker however is a game that many poker players wouldn't know about or have heard of normally unless they have been to a casino.
It's a popular casino game and most casinos will have a 3 card poker or 3 card brag table (same thing) along with their blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas hold em poker games.
It's really simple to play but having worked as a dealer its clear that most customers don't really know how the game operates in its house edges and so first I'll explain the basics and then fill you in on some of the statistics.
There's 3 boxes in front of you as a customer, the ante, play and pair plus. The ante and play are for playing against the dealer, winning by having 3 cards that are better than the dealers 3 cards. You bet your ante to see your cards and then match the ante on the play box (double your bet) if you like what you see. If you win you double your money.
There's also another rule in place in which the dealer must have at least a hand of q high at least for the bet to be valid. If this is not the case, the play is still paid to all players remaining in the hand but the ante stands - is returned. In this way payout is halved but paid to all remaining players regardless of their hand.
The pair plus goes by separate rules - it's a separate bet. It's not against the dealer; you pay your stake and then get paid if you hit a good hand, simple.
Where I have seen so many people going wrong in this game is the way that they balance their bets. The ante/play is only 1:1 payout and so people like to play a bit on the ante/play and then stack a fair few more on the pair plus for a lucky shot. This is the wrong tactic.
The odds of hitting a pair plus hand are roughly one in four. Therefore it is always 4:1 against you to lose your stake. The way to play 3 card poker is to ration your bankroll and bet consistent stakes on both games. This keeps the house edge to the minimum of 3%. Playing in other styles dramatically increases the house edge. Remember that it's 1 in 4 chance of hitting a hand on pair plus. Statistically you have to play over 450 hands before a straight flush at 35:1 comes in. If you are looking for 35:1 odds you can head over to roulette for dramatically better value - nearly 15 times better chance of hitting.
I have done all the number crunching for this over at my new casino site, head over and have a read through and improve your game play and win more of the time. 3 card poker is fascinating to analyse and the perfect strategy is very simple.