Gaming: What’s the deal with Three Card Poker? 

Three Card Poker is one of many new table games players are flocking to — it’s easy to learn, there’s fast action and there’s better control of betting, with possible smaller losses and maybe bigger bets with a potential for a bigger win.

The three-card betting game likely traces its origins back 300 years to England. As television broadcasts and events like the World Series of Poker and celebrity players drew more interest in the 1980s and ’90s, demand for a variety of table games appealing to a broad range of players grew.

“Within gaming, 20 years ago different poker variations started to be introduced,” said Kirsten Clark, vice president of worldwide marketing for Shuffle Master Inc., which makes gaming accessories.

“One of the biggest differences with these games is they offer an additional wager, give the player access to higher odds and additional wagering opportunities,” Clark said. “In traditional poker, for the average player, winnings are harder to come by unless you’re a good poker player.”

The resurgence in table games is an interesting phenomena, said Peter Nairn, vice president of table games at Red Hawk Casino in Placerville. “Generally all table games are making an improvement. People have more control; there’s more decision-making.”

With three-card, betting is very simple. Casinos like the game too, because it’s easier for dealers to learn, and the house can make more money than in some other games.

Shuffle Master now owns and licenses the game Three Card Poker. There are competing three-card games and there’s a four-card variant also. Shuffle Master, with seven of the top 10 proprietary table games, says there are more than 9,000 proprietary games today compared to fewer than 1,000 titles 15 years ago. The three-card game, Clark said, “has created a whole new segment of table game play.” Casinos see the customer demand and potential financial benefits and have added more games.

Because it’s less complicated and faster, the three-card game serves a different customer than the traditional poker player.

One thing to remember: The three-card game differs in how it’s played between a Nevada-style casino and a California card room. In the Nevada-style casino, the house — the casino — is the bank, or dealer. In a card room, just like the blackjack game variants, the dealer rotates among the players.

“We have worked with our game development team to develop a specific version for California card rooms,” Clark said.

Three Card Poker rules

Rules can vary; for general instructions, visit any of these Web sites:

Cache Creek Casino Resort

Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel

Red Hawk Casino

Thunder Valley Casino

How it’s played

Generally, each player and the dealer receive three cards to make a poker hand — a pair, three-card straight, three-card flushes, etc.

Very simply, because there are variations, place an ante bet. You can fold, and lose the bet, or if you think you can beat the dealer, make another bet.

The dealer must have a queen or better to stay in. If you beat the dealer, you win both bets.

If the dealer doesn’t have a queen or better, you win the ante and push on the second bet. You can also make a third, separate bet on whether you have a pair or better.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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