Australia has always had a healthy and enthusiastic poker scene, with clubs in the major cities and poker rooms in the big casinos. The game is a perfect fit for the Australian fondness for a wager combined with the nation’s competitive spirit.
A generation or two ago, it took some determination, not to mention courage, to force yourself into the poker scene. Sure, there were books to read about strategy, but the only way to really learn was to pony up your ante, take a seat at the table and start to play.
That could easily start getting expensive and disheartening unless you are a fast learner. Fortunately, the advent of the internet opened up new possibilities.
Casino poker – the ideal entry point
Video poker has always been the logical starting point for learning poker basics. It gives players the chance to become familiar with the game’s basic concepts, to learn the comparative values of, let’s say, a full house and a straight flush and to make judgements on risk and return when holding or discarding cards.
The Australian online platforms that offer video poker usually have other types of online poker for real money too. It can still be something of a leap going from video poker against the machine to Texas Holdem against other players. That’s why Australia casino platforms has started offering dealer-based poker games. These include Casino Holdem and Caribbean Stud. Both are good games, but the one that has really captured Australian imaginations is 3-card poker.
The rise of 3-card poker
Three-Card Poker was invented in 1994 by British poker pro Derek Webb. The UK regulator demanded that he obtain some player data before they could license it, so he took the game to Australia and the USA. In Australia, the game soon started to capture the attention of both casino novices and seasoned gamblers. This increased dramatically in 2021 when the number of online casino players in Australia increased by 50 percent. Since then, the game has become a staple for Aussie casino goers.
3-card poker – the basics
In 3-card poker, players are dealt three cards and pit their hands against the dealers, so the setup is similar to blackjack. The player lays down an ante bet to join the game and has the option to place a pair plus bet, too. More on that in a moment. Then, the cards are dealt face down. The player then looks at his cards and can either make a play wager, equal to the ante or can throw in his cards and cut his losses. Hand values are the same as regular poker, but obviously, with a hand of only three cards, there are fewer options.
The dealer’s hand is then revealed. For play to proceed, the dealer must have Queen-high or better. If not, ante pays out 1-1 and other bets are returned. If the player hand beats the dealer hand, payout is as per the published pay table. This usually pays 1-1 for a high card, pair, or flush with higher rewards for a straight, three of a kind, straight flush or royal flush.
Optimum Strategy and the pair plus.
People commonly play if they have Queen-high or better. Statistically, you should play if you have Q,6,4 or better, and fold with anything less.
There is also the pair plus bet to consider. This is a separate wager that has nothing to do with the dealer’s hand. You are simply betting that your hand will contain a pair or better. You can even play only the pair-plus bet and not the ante bet, in which case the game is decided one way or the other as soon as your cards are dealt.
If you play both bets, the pair-plus is automatically lost if you throw in your cards. Really, that’s a moot point though, as you’ll never fold if you have a pair or better. Pair plus pays out even money for a pair right up to 40-1 for a royal flush. Pair plus has a higher house edge, but is nevertheless tempting as it opens to door to the possibility of a big win.