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Pair Plus

This is a simple game in which you get three cards and are paid according to their value. The dealer’s hand is immaterial. There is no raising and no discarding, in fact no skill of any kind is involved.

The following table shows various paytables for Pair Plus. It used to be that the only table was pay table 1. Pay table 4 is becoming increasingly prevalent in Las Vegas, especially on the Strip.

Payoff Table for Pair Plus
Hand Probability Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4
Straight flush 0.002172 40 to 1 40 to 1 35 to 1 40 to 1
Three of a kind 0.002353 30 to 1 25 to 1 25 to 1 30 to 1
Straight 0.032579 6 to 1 6 to 1 6 to 1 6 to 1
Flush 0.049593 4 to 1 4 to 1 4 to 1 3 to 1
Pair 0.169412 1 to 1 1 to 1 1 to 1 1 to 1
Nothing 0.743891 lose lose lose lose
House Edge 2.32% 3.49% 4.58% 7.28%

Ante and Play

Play begins with a wager on ante. After the player views his three cards he may either raise by putting an equal bet on play or fold and lose the ante bet. If the player folds he also loses the Pair Plus bet if one was made, however this should not be any sacrifice because if the Pair Plus bet paid anything the player shouldn’t fold.

If the player does raise then he goes against the dealer’s hand. The dealer needs at least a queen high to qualify.

Below are the possible outcomes and their payoff:

  • Dealer does not qualify: Ante wins 1 to 1, play bet is returned
  • Dealer qualifies and player beats dealer: Both play and ante win 1 to 1
  • Dealer qualifies and dealer beats player: Both Play and ante lose
  • Dealer qualifies and dealer ties player: Both Play and ante push

The Ante bet has an extra bonus that does not depend on the dealer’s hand. There are different variations of the bonus paytable. The following table shows some variations along with the corresponding game house edge and element of risk.

Ante Bet Bonus
Hand Probability Table 1 Table 2 Table 3
Straight flush 0.002172 5 to 1 4 to 1 3 to 1
Three of a kind 0.002353 4 to 1 3 to 1 2 to 1
Straight 0.032579 1 to 1 1 to 1 1 to 1
House Edge 3.37% 3.83% 4.28%
Element of Risk 2.01% 2.28% 2.56%

Three Card Poker Strategy

Rule #1: FOLD unless your hand is Q-6-4 or better.

Seeing Additional CardsOther Players’ Cards

If you don’t have Q high or better, fold unless you can see the following in other players’ hands:

a) 3 additional cards all of which are Q or higher
b) 6 additional cards of which at least 4 are Q or higher

If you are holding Q-6-4 and the 6 additional cards you can see are all Jack or less, fold.

Seeing One Of The Dealer’s Cards

Some three card poker dealers sometimes carelessly reveal the bottom of a card when passing them from the automatic shuffler to the table. Seeing just one of the dealer’s cards is equal to seeing 40 other cards. Seeing one of the dealer’s cards gives you a significant 3.48% edge on the house. If you are so fortunate, this is a great time to bet the table maximum based on the following:

  • Play all hands if the dealer’s card is a Jack or less
  • Play Q-9-2 or better if the dealer’s card is a Queen
  • Play K-9-2 or better if the dealer’s card is a King
  • Play A-9-2 or better if the dealer’s card is an Ace