Three Card Poker is a casino table game based on poker. The basic game is very straight forward; played with a standard 52 card deck the player places an Ante wager then the player and the dealer are each dealt 3 cards face down (online variants normally deal the player’s cards face up). The player is then allowed to look at their cards and makes a decision regarding whether to fold – throw away the dealt cards ending the round and losing the Ante wager – or Play, placing an additional wager equal to the Ante wager to continue the round.
History of Three Card Poker
Three Card Poker was initially invented by Englishman Derek Webb, a professional poker player who thought a game that combined the excitement of poker with the speed of regular casino games would be a hit. Using a Standard English deck of 52 cards, the game pits each player’s three card hand against the dealer’s and includes a bonus pay-off up to 50-1 on a mini-royal hand of suited Ace-King-Queen.
The game did well and outperformed Caribbean Stud Poker in its first two weeks. Originally marketed as Brit-Brag, and then Casino Brag, Webb tested the waters in 1994 after applying for patents in Great Britain and the United States. His marketing was done under the name Prime Table Games, but at the time the mainstream British Casino Association (now known as National Casino Industry Forum) were not willing to take on a new game without the game having been proven in the larger United States market. As such Webb took the game to Las Vegas to try for a launch there. Via a combination of casinos pulling out, inadequate dealer training and insufficient promotion Three Card Poker failed to gain a foothold in the major gambling meccas of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. At that point Webb took the game to the Grand Casino in Gulfport Mississippi 1995. Webb offered the casino extensive support in launching the game, spending a lot of time training dealers and ultimately ended up supervising the games on launch day to ensure that player were aware of the new game and the dealers were dealing correctly. The players loved him and the game and, with this successful start under his belt, Webb convinced two casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, to allow his game a field trial.
In 1997, just as Three Card Poker was making a substantial impression on the market, Webb was sued by Progressive Games Inc, the owners of Caribbean Stud Poker, who claimed that Three Card Poker had infringed on their trademark. Under the stress and demands of marketing the new game and the lawsuit, Webb met with Joseph Lahti, President of Shufflemaster ( now known as SHFL Entertainment) who offered to help defend Webb’s original patent claims in court.
Lahti also offered Webb $3 million for the rights to 3 Card Poker. He took the deal, retained certain rights and agreed to be the principle salesman for the game, but did give Shufflemaster the rights to the game outside the British Isles.
The continued success of the game forced United Kingdom regulators to finally allow the introduction of 3 Card Poker in 2002. At the same time, Webb counter-sued Progressive Games Inc., claiming their lawsuit forced him to sell his intellectual property at a lower price than it was worth. Progressive settled out of court and paid Webb $20 million, while the success of 3 Card Poker helped make Shufflemaster a ton of money in monthly licensing fees.
Today, Webb defines his success as knowing “when people walk into a casino, mine is the game they want to play.” An inventor can’t do any better than that!
Three Card Poker Glossary
Three Card Poker Glossary Terms
Ante – The initial bet all players make before the game begins which is a bet against the house.
Bluff – Playing with a hand with which you should have folded.
Face Card – Jack, Queen or King, not just a number and a suit.
Fold – Dropping out of the game and surrendering the ante.
Pair Plus – A type of wager available in the game, betting the player will draw two cards of the same value in his hand.
Play – The opposite of Fold. The player decides to stay in the game and to raise his bet.
Qualify – A minimum the Dealer should have in his hand; usually the lowest acceptable card is Queen.
Three Card Poker is played with a normal 52 card deck in online casinos. The rank of hands in order from best to worst in three-card poker are mentioned in the given table along with their probabilities and the numbers of combinations forming that hand: