Combining two of the most popular casino games, three card blackjack brings a twist to the classic gameplay and it is an option which comes highly recommended for its straightforward rules and exciting style. It can be seen as a combination between blackjack and three card poker where the goal of the game is to beat the dealer by getting closer to twenty one from the three dealt cards. While it may seem a bit confusing at first, it doesn’t take more than a few hands to understand how everything works.
How to start paying three card blackjack
In order to start a hand, the player must place an Ante bet. There is also the option to put a side bet but we will get to that a bit later. Once the ante has been placed, the dealer will deal three cards facing up to the player and three cards facing down to himself. He will then select one of the cards at random and reveal it so that the player can get an idea of what the house might have.
The deck of cards used in this game is the regular one of 52 playing cards and most casinos use several at a time, up to eight.
After the player sees his hand, he can choose to fold and thus lose the ante bet or place a Play bet of the same amount in order to continue with the hand. The dealer will then reveal the cards and the strongest hand wins.
It is important to keep in mind that while the goal in three card blackjack is to get closer to 21 than the dealer, it is impossible to go over this amount since the third card will not be taken into account if the hand adds up to 22 or more. Furthermore, the dealer must get at least 17 from the three cards in order to qualify.
Pays and side bets in three card blackjack
If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the player will receive even money for the ante bet and a push on the play bet. However, if the player gets a blackjack from two of the three cards, he will win the hand, regardless if the player qualifies or not, and will thus receive even money on both the ante and the play bets. A player blackjack will also beat a dealer blackjack.
If the dealer qualifies for the hand and the player has a higher total value, he will receive even money on the two bets. If the dealer has a stronger hand, both bets will be lost.
The side bet in three card blackjack is called Ace Plus and it can be placed before the hand starts. This has set payouts for hands that contain at least an ace and will offer larger prizes for combinations of aces and face cards. The pays on this side bet are not influenced by the outcome of the actual hand so the player can lose to the dealer but still receive a pay.
A hand with just one ace will pay 1 to 1, while getting an ace and a face card will pay 3 to 1. This can go up to 100 to 1 for a hand made out of three aces.
Odds and house edge
Given the combination of pays and the odds in the game, three card blackjack has a higher house edge than the traditional version of blackjack and reaches 3.42%. Following the right decisions, the player will continue to play and raise about 63.66% of the time, generating an average player bet return of 1.6366 units. As a result the player loss expected in this game on an average bet is 2.09%.
Looking at the ace plus bet, it has a house edge of 2.75%, making it one of the better side bets found in casino games. While the strategy is usually to avoid side bets in similar card games, three card poker actually offers decent odds on the ace plus wager and players should use it when they bet.
The basic strategy for three card blackjack is to always raise for hands of 20 or blackjack, for hands of 19 when the dealer shows anything between 2 and 9, for 18 when the dealer has 2-8, for 17 when the dealer has 2 and never for 16 or less.