Ultimate Three Card Poker

Ultimate Three Card Poker logoUltimate Three Card Poker is the more extreme version of 3 Card Poker, following similar rules and gameplay. Using only three cards to make the winning hand, players look to beat the dealer. Read through our guide and learn the rule changes that make this a popular game. For those new to Ultimate Three Card Poker, follow our easy steps and start playing. Use our recommended casinos list to figure out the best places to play at; although finding this game may be harder than it looks.

Learn the basic strategy players use when playing Ultimate Three Card Poker. The concepts are very easy to learn and understand. So the next time you do find yourself at a casino and they offer this particular poker game, you will be ready to win.

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Ultimate Three Card Poker Rules

This was discussed during the introduction, but Ultimate Three Card Poker simply Three Card Poker with four major rule changes added into the mix.

Accordingly, readers who aren’t particularly adept at Three Card Poker should head to our 3 Card Poker page for a lesson on the game. After you run through the rules and regulations for original Three Card Poker, it’ll be much easier to comprehend how Ultimate Three Card Poker expands on the previous foundation.

Game Overview

Ultimate Three Card Poker tableIn both games, the standard 52 card deck of playing cards will be used. In lieu of a multiple deck shoe, a single deck will be used and reshuffled for each hand.

The objective of Ultimate Three Card Poker is to land the best possible three card poker hand, or at the very least, a three card poker hand which outranks the dealer’s holding.

Hands are scored using an adjusted form of the traditional poker hand hierarchy, because with only three cards in your hand, certain hands like the full house are no longer possible.

3 Card Poker Hand Rankings

Before we move on to the nuts and bolts of the game, readers who may not be familiar with poker hand rankings in any game should study the list below, which displays the possible hands you can create in Ultimate Three Card Poker:

Poker Hands & Descriptions

  • Mini Royal Flush: The highest possible straight flush (As Ks Qs).
  • Straight Flush: Any straight, with all three cards the same suit (7s 8s 9s).
  • Three of a Kind: Any three of the same card rank (7s 7c 7h).
  • Straight: Any three cards in consecutive order (5c 6h 7s).
  • Flush: Any three cards of the same suit (2h 5h 9h).
  • One Pair: Any two of the same card rank (7h 7d X).
  • High Card: Any unpaired/unconnected hand is ranked according to its high card (Ah 3d 2c).

Disorder of Hand Rankings

Astute observers who know their poker will quickly notice that a few of these hands are “out of order.” For instance, in a regular poker game, a flush beats a straight, but with only three cards to work with, making a flush is actually easier to accomplish than making a straight. Thus, the flush occupies a lower rung on the hand ranking ladder.

Three of a Kind

Another shift is made with three of a kind and straights. For traditional poker, straights outrank three of a kind, but in Three Card Poker and its related variants, the order has been flipped to correspond with the relative difficulty of landing each card combination.

Guide to Playing Ultimate Three Card Poker

1. Place Your Bets

To begin a hand of Ultimate Three Card Poker, players must place two mandatory bets, known as the Ante bet and the Blind bet. The Blind bet and Ante bet must always be made in equal amounts.

This added Blind bet represents one of the points of departure between Ultimate Three Card Poker and the original version. Regular Three Card Poker requires only the Ante bet, with no secondary Blind bet needed.

At this time, players can also choose to place an optional side wager known as the Pair Plus bet (the terms of this wager will be described later in the section).

2. Three Cards are Dealt

When all players have anted up with their two forced bets, the dealer will proceed to deliver three cards face down to each player, along with three cards to themselves.

The dealer’s cards will be turned face down in Ultimate Three Card Poker games, but if you’re on a table titled “Ultimate Face Up Three Card Poker,” one of the dealer’s hole cards will actually be face up. This page is meant to describe Ultimate Three Card Poker only, though, so the dealer’s cards will remain face down until the showdown portion of the hand.

You may examine your own hole cards of course, but dealers will admonish you harshly for attempting to share information about your hand with fellow players.

3. Fold or Raise

After taking a peek at your three-card holding, the game’s player decision point is now upon us: Fold or Raise.

  • FOLD: you simply give up on the hand without any further fight, surrendering your cards to the dealer and forfeiting your Ante and Blind bets.
  • RAISE: you move forward with the hand, but you’ll be forced to put up an additional Raise bet.

The terms of this Raise bet represent another divergence between this game and classic Three Card Poker, which only allows players to make a Raise bet which is equal to their Ante bet.

Ultimate Three Card Poker mixes things up, though, by giving players the option to raise 1X, 2X, or 3X the amount of their Ante bet. This extra raising can only be done when you hold a hand worth one pair or better. When you do hold one pair or better, you can choose between one of the three raise amounts listed.

4. Dealer Cards Revealed

Once all players have run through this folding or raising process, the dealer will then reveal their own three-card holding and form their best possible three-card poker hand. The dealer’s hand is then compared to each player hand one by one to determine winners.

Like in all Three Card Poker variants, the Ultimate version of the game applies a concept known as “qualification” to the dealer’s hand in order to determine payouts. The dealer must show down a hand of queen high or better in order to qualify.

5. Winning Hands & Payouts

After the dealer tables their hand, the following procedures will be used to determine payouts and their amounts:

  • The Ante bet will push on occasions when the dealer doesn’t qualify.
  • The Ante bet will be paid out at even money when the player beats a qualifying dealer hand.
  • The Ante bet will be returned as a push when the player ties with a qualifying dealer hand.
  • The Raise bet will be paid out at even money when the player beats any dealer’s hand.
  • The Raise bet will be returned as a push when the player ties any dealer’s hand.
  • The Blind bet will be paid out based on the player’s hand strength when player beats any dealer hand, using the appropriate pay table.

6. Start Over

Once all pending wagers have been settled by the dealer, they’ll reshuffle the deck and begin a new hand.

Payouts

Blind Bet Payouts

HAND PAYS
Mini Royal Flush 100 to 1
Straight Flush 20 to 1
Three of a Kind 10 to 1
Straight 2 to 1
Flush 1 to 1
One Pair or Worse Push

This Blind bet is essentially a mandatory bonus bet, one which pays out on an escalating pay table when you make premium hands like the Mini Royal Flush, a straight flush, or three of a kind. Of course, you won’t be making these kinds of hands all that often, so on the majority of Ultimate Three Card Poker hands, you’ll be losing this Blind bet to the house.

Pair Plus Bet

The Pair Plus Bet is based on the strength of the player’s three card hand alone, so even if you happen to lose to the dealer’s monster, you can still win some dough by landing a premium hand.

The pay table used for the Pair Plus bonus bet can be reviewed below:

HAND PAYS
Mini Royal Flush 50 to 1
Straight Flush 40 to 1
Three of a Kind 30 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
One Pair 1 to 1
Ace High or Worse Push

Example Hand

To help illustrate some of the gameplay concepts from the player’s perspective, we’ll rely on an example hand that will have details from this section. In our case, we’ll go ahead and place the standard $5 wager on both the Ante and the Blind bets, while tossing an additional $5 on the Pair Plus bet.

#1

We have been dealt the Kh Kd 3c for a Pair of Kings. Holding Kh Kd 3c for a pair of kings entitles us to make a raise of our choosing. A high pair like this is rather strong in Ultimate Three Card Poker, so we’ll go ahead and make the maximum raise of 3X, or $15 ($5 Ante bet x 3 = $15).

#2

The dealer turns over an As 9d 3h for Ace High, so they’ve produced a qualifying hand. We’ve tabled the Kh Kd 3c for one pair of kings, while the dealer turned over As 9d 3h for ace high.

#3

Now that we are comparing our hand with the dealers, it is time to figure out how much we will get paid. Remember, the three bets we have placed were on the Ante, Raise, and Blind.

For the Ante Bet

The dealer has qualified, and we’ve beaten the dealer, so our $5 Ante bet would be paid out at even money for a $5 profit.

For the Raise Bet

Our pair of kings beats the dealer’s ace high, so we’d earn an even money payout on our $15 maximum Raise bet – good for a profit of $15.

For the Blind Bet

We don’t hold a premium hand, so we can’t win one of the huge payouts, but our single pair does entitle us to a push – so our $5 Blind bet will be returned.

#4

Readers with a good memory will recall that we actually made a fourth bet in the example hand, the Pair Plus bonus bet. So, with our pair of kings, the $5 chip we wagered on the Pair Plus bonus bet would return an even money payout of $5.

Best Places to Play Ultimate Three Card Poker

Recommended iconUnfortunately for fans of Ultimate Three Card Poker, an exhaustive search for casino properties which currently offer this variant turned up nothing conclusive.

Nearly every casino out there offers some form of Three Card Poker, but often the house will use its own rules, which is how Face Up Three Card Poker rose to prominence.

This means that many casinos simply list the game as Three Card Poker on their websites or directories, without specifying whether or not players should expect the Face Up or Ultimate varieties.

Call Your Local Casinos

Without an accurate listing of venues running Ultimate Three Card Poker games, your best bet is to put in a little legwork. Place a few phone calls to your favorite casino properties and ask to speak with the table games manager.

Let them know exactly what you’re looking for: Three Card Poker with the extra Blind bet and the ability to make a Raise bet of three times your Ante. Whether or not that particular property carries the game, the chances are high that a professional table games manager will at least have heard of Ultimate Three Card Poker at one point or another.

And if they have, they should be able to steer you on the right path toward finding the game near you.

Ultimate Three Card Poker Strategy

Fortunately for players who don’t like memorizing massive charts in order to play a table game correctly, Ultimate Three Card Poker strategy uses:

Three Basic Rules

  • Players should fold all hands ranked at J 7 4 or worse (J 7 3, J 6 10, etc).
  • Players should make a Raise bet of 1X when holding all hands ranked between J 7 4 and the best non-pair hands (A K J).
  • Players should make a raise bet of 3X with all hands ranked at one pair or better.

By sticking to these basic rules for how to play your hands, you’ll always be sticking as close to optimal strategy as possible. In a game like Ultimate Three Card Poker, where not having the discipline to fold or making incorrect raise amounts can severely impact your bottom line, using these rules is crucial to your long-term success. Using the hole card strategy can also be beneficial.

House Edge is Better

Playing with this basic strategy creates game conditions in Ultimate Three Card Poker which offer a house edge of 5.42 percent. When compared to regular Three Card Poker – which offers house edge rates between 0.33 percent and 4.28 percent depending on the pay table in play –  Ultimate Three Card Poker isn’t really the best bet in terms of gambling strategy.

After all, you can enjoy an almost identical gameplay experience by playing the classic version of the game, while instantly shaving your house edge by an order of magnitude.

Pair Plus Bet

On the other hand, the game’s Pair Plus bonus bet carries an overall house edge of 2.14 percent, which is actually the lowest for this particular side bet on any Three Card Poker variant. By comparison, when you play a traditional Three Card Poker game, betting on the Pair Plus bonus incurs an obscene house edge of 7.28 percent.

Thus, if you prefer to make the Pair Plus bonus bet at all times, in hopes of chasing down a big time payout for making a premium hand, sound strategy dictates playing Ultimate Three Card Poker.

If the Pair Plus bonus bet isn’t really your bag, then you should be sticking to the original version of Three Card Poker in order to face the most favorable odds.

History Behind the Game

Derek WebbIn 1994 casino game inventor Derek Webb pioneered the concept of hybrid table games, devising his own take on the centuries-old game known as Three Card Poker.

Over more than 20 years since then, many entrepreneurial minded casino managers and even a few players have taken their shot at updating Webb’s classic version. Games like Face Up Three Card Poker cropped up seemingly on their own throughout the casinos and card rooms of California and along the West Coast.

Eventually, Webb sold his ownership rights over Three Card Poker to major worldwide casino equipment manufacturer Shuffle Master, and in turn, Shuffle Master was acquired by rival Bally Technologies in 2013.

That acquisition transferred the rights to Three Card Poker and any related variants owned by Shuffle Master to Bally Technologies.

One of those variants was Ultimate Three Card Poker. Also referred to as Ultimate Face Up Three Card Poker, the “Ultimate” variety of Webb’s classic casino game adds a few crucial adjustments to the rules, in an effort to liven up the gameplay experience after more than 20 years on the casino floor.

First Appearance

Ultimate Three Card Poker was first noticed by the casino gambling community in 2010, when it made an appearance at the small Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada. Since that time, the game secured temporary placements in several similarly sized casinos around the U.S., but as of today, it appears as though the game has failed to catch on in any major way.

Even so, the casino landscape in this country is about as expansive as it gets, ranging from the mega resort casino properties towering above the Las Vegas Strip, to humble one-story card rooms and gambling halls scattered around America’s tribal reservations. That means holdover tables using the Ultimate Three Card Poker setup are highly likely to still be in play somewhere out there.