Issue 337
February 26 - March 4, 2007
Volume 7
page 3

Learn your table games lessons: Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud and Let it Ride
By Frank Scoblete

Three-Card Poker

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 area. That means, appropriately, that the player is playing. 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. [You win one dollar for every one-dollar wagered.] The Play pays a bonus for certain premium hands. 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, such as the jackpot of 40 to 1 for a straight flush. The Pair Plus edge is about 2.3 percent.

While most Three-Card Poker payouts are relatively standard in casinos throughout the country, there are some differences here and there. Check the table layout before you play to see what the hands are returning. One caveat that is quite favorable to the player in the game concerns dealer qualification. Simply, if the dealer does not have at least a queen high or better hand, the players win their ante bet. However, this can be a very fast game, with 90 decisions in an hour not that rare.

Always bet Play when you have a Queen-6 or better.

Caribbean Stud

Caribbean Stud is offered on a blackjack-like table and all players play against the house. The objective of the game is to beat the dealer's hand by making the best possible poker hand with five cards. There are two betting squares in front of each player -- one labeled ante and the other labeled bet. There is also a side bet -- the jackpot -- that is made by dropping a one-dollar chip in the jackpot slot, which makes you eligible to hit the progressive jackpot that increases with each hand played. The side jackpot bet is strictly optional.

The game begins with the players putting a bet in the ante square and, if they wish, they can put in the jackpot bet. Now the dealer deals five cards to each player. The dealer also deals himself five cards, the last one being dealt face up. The players check their cards. They now have two choices to make: They can play out their hands or they can surrender their hands and lose their antes.

If they decide to play out their hands, they must place a bet that is double their ante in the bet square. Once the players have made their respective decisions, the dealer turns over his remaining four cards and makes the best poker hand possible out of them. The one caveat is that the dealer must have at least an Ace-King hand for the game to be fully decided -- this is called the dealer-qualifying rule. If he fails to have such a hand, he pays off the antes and pushes on the bets. If the dealer achieves a hand of Ace-King (or better), than all the players' hands are judged against it. If the player cannot beat the dealer's hand, the player loses both his ante and his bet. If the player beats the dealer, the ante is paid off at even money, while the bet is paid off at house odds -- these odds will be listed at the table.

In addition, if the player originally opted for the jackpot side bet, certain select hands will win a bonus award, up to and including the jackpot itself.

Utilizing my strategy, the casino will have an approximately 2.7 percent edge over the player. Surrender any hand that is lower than an ace-king. Bet any ace-king or better. Never make the jackpot side bet.

Let It Ride

The objective of Let It Ride is to make the best poker hand that is a pair of tens or better with your three cards and the two community cards. You are not playing to beat the dealer, 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.

To play Let It Ride, you'll need three times the amount of the table minimum because each round requires three initial bets. However, as play progresses you will have the option of removing two of the three bets. In front of each player are three betting squares labeled "1" and "2" and "$." Once the players have placed their bets, the dealer deals each player three cards and puts two cards face down as "community" cards. The players now look at their three card hands.

They can now decide to withdraw their number "1" bet or let it ride. Once the players have decided, the dealer turns over the first of the two community cards. Again the players can now decide whether to take off their number "2" bet or let it ride. Finally, the dealer turns over the second community card and the players are paid off according to the posted payoff schedule. The "$" bet cannot be called off -- it's the bet that gives the casino its edge, thus making it live up to its symbol.

Most casinos offer a jackpot for an additional side bet of $1, 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." It is paid based on a separate formula for premium hands. The layout for Let It Ride will contain all the payout information for the regular game and the jackpot option. With my basic strategy, the player will face a house edge that is approximately 3 percent. The game is also relatively fast, so that 3 percent will be working on between 60-90 decisions an hour. Another thing to note is that Let It Ride will see the player win approximately 25 percent of his hands. In other words, three of every four hands will be losers. The hands the player wins, however, will often be for tidy sums, especially if he has been able to "let it ride!" from the first bet.

Simple Let It Ride Strategy

On bet #1, let it ride if you have the following cards:

  • pair of tens or better
  • any three cards to a royal flush
  • any three cards in succession to a straight flush
On bet #2, let it ride if you have the following:
  • pair of tens or better
  • any four cards to a royal flush
  • any four cards to a straight flush
  • any four cards to a flush
One caveat is to note that some casinos limit the total amount of money they'll pay out for a royal flush and other premium hands. Make sure that when you are betting that you don't bet more money than the casino will pay out should you win. If, for example, the limit is $25,000; you would not want to bet $30 per hand as a winning royal flush pays 1,000 to one. In this case, if you win it should be $30,000 but because of the "cap," the casino will not pay you more than $25,000.

Don't bet the jackpot side bet.

About the Author

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America. He is executive director of the Golden Touch advantage-play seminars in craps and blackjack. His websites are, and in association with His recent books are The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! and The Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution! His new DVD is Golden Touch Dice Control DVD showing over 200 controlled dice throws - many in slow motion. For a free brochure or to order Frank's products, call 1-800-944-0406. Looking for great gambling products and gifts? Go to


Books by the Author

Purchase Frank's books, available online here.


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