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How Good Are Those "Other" Games? Part Two6 October 2001
LET IT RIDE
A game that started fast out of the starting gates and seems to have just gotten more and more popular in the few short years it has existed is Shuffle Master's Let It Ride, another poker variant. The house edge is approximately 2.8 percent with the proper basic strategy (see my book Bold Card Play Strategy: Best Strategies for Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker).
In front of each player are three betting squares labeled "1" and "2" and "$." The player places a bet in each square. The object of the game is to make the best poker hand that is a pair of 10s or better with your three cards and two community cards. You are not playing to beat the dealer as in Caribbean Stud, merely to get a good hand that pays a bonus according to a set payoff schedule. This bonus schedule applies to all hands. If, at the end of play, you have three bets working, you will receive the bonus on all three bets. If you only have one bet working, you will only receive the bonus on that one bet.
The dealer gives each player three cards and puts two cards face down as "community" cards. The players now look at their three-card hands.
The players can now decide to withdraw their number "1" bet or let it ride. To let a bet ride, a player must put his three cards face down under his wager or behind his number "1" bet. To withdraw the number "1" bet, the player must scratch the felt to indicate to the dealer that the bet is to be returned. Players are not allowed to touch their chips once they are on the layout so the players cannot take back their bets themselves. The dealer will push the bet back if the player so desires.
Once the players have decided what to do with bet number "1" and the dealer has returned all withdrawals from play, the dealer now turns over the first of the two community cards. Again the players can decide whether to take off their number "2" bet or let that bet ride.
An important point to note is that the player who allows his number "1" bet to ride does not have to let his number "2" bet ride. Each bet is handled separately and there is a distinct strategy for each round of play. The "$" bet cannot be taken down.
Finally, the dealer turns over the second community card and the players are paid off according to the payoff schedule, or their losing bets are collected, as the case may be. Some casinos have begun to offer a "Bonus" jackpot for an additional side bet, as is done with Caribbean Stud. You place this bet at the beginning of the round and it is not returnable as are bets number "1" and number "2."
Summary: Fair/Good Game
PAI GOW POKER
In negative expectation games, slow is good. Pai Gow Poker is deliciously slow, sometimes no more than 40 hands in an hour are actually played to completion. If you play according to the house way of setting the cards, you will face an approximately 2.5 percent casino edge.
Pai Gow Poker is a poker variation of the Chinese tile game. The game begins when one player is designated as the "dealer/banker." He must bank the bets of the other players. If no player wants to assume this role, the casino will bank the game. It is played with a standard deck of 52 cards with one joker added that can be used as an ace or to complete a straight, flush, or straight flush.
Before the deal, three dice are shaken and displayed to determine the order of the deal. Each player is then dealt seven cards with which he must make two hands based on poker rankings -- a back hand of five cards and a front hand of two cards. The five-card hand must outrank the two-card hand.
To win, you have to defeat the banker on both your front and back hands. To lose, the banker must defeat you on both as well. A "copy" or push goes to the banker. The house takes a five percent commission on all winning player hands and, since you win approximately 50 percent of the time, the house edge is a 2.5 percent.
Summary: Good Game
THREE CARD POKER
Another relatively new game that is gaining adherents throughout the country is Three-Card Poker, developed by poker pro Derek Webb. It is a very simple poker variant that has a very simple basic strategy, the objective of which is to beat the dealer's three-card hand. There is also an added incentive in attempting to win bonuses for certain premium hands.
The player can bet on three propositions called Ante, Play and the independent Pair Plus. The dealer deals the player three cards and himself three cards. If a player has opted to place an Ante bet, when he looks at his three cards he must decide whether to stay in the game or fold. To stay, he must place a bet equal to his Ante bet in the Play square. Now the dealer turns over his three cards. If the player beats the dealer's three-card hand, the player wins the Ante bet at even money. The Play bet pays a bonus for certain premium hands such as a straight flush, three of a kind, a straight and a flush. The Play pays even money for a pair.
The Pair Plus bet is a side bet that can be made without placing an Ante bet. If the player has a Pair Plus, which is two of a kind or better, he receives an additional payout. Many of these payouts are greater than one to one.
Unlike Caribbean Stud, where a dealer not qualifying for play cancels winning player hands, in Three Card Poker a non-qualifying dealer is a benefit to the players. What qualifies a dealer? Simply, if the dealer does not have at least a queen high or better hand, the players win on all their bets.
The house has a moderate edge on Three Card Poker when proper strategy is employed. The Ante and Play hands face a 2.14 percent house edge, while the Pair Plus bet comes in at 2.32 percent for the house (there is no strategy for Pair Plus). A conservative strategy would call for making only the Ante and Play wagers until one had a comfortable win before making several exploratory Pair Plus bets. If luck kept shining on you when you did so, then continue to play all three propositions. For truly small bankrolls, you could play the Pair Plus without placing the Ante or Play wagers.
Winning Ante wagers are paid 1 to 1.
Summary: Fair Game
There are probably very good reasons why these "other" games have caught on. They offer the players choices to make that do affect their expectation, while simultaneously offering the players an opportunity to win big bonuses if Lady Luck smiles on them. Unlike my friend Billy's family, some of these "others" might be worth getting to know.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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