Overview of 3-5-7 Poker
The hybrid table game known as 3-5-7 Poker was developed by Joe Awada, through his company Gaming Entertainment, Inc., in 2001.
By 2002 the game was appearing in a few casinos located throughout Nevada and Mississippi, attracting attention from players and industry experts alike.
In 2003, however, Awada and Gaming Entertainment were embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Shuffle Master, Inc., a major designer, and manufacturer of casino gaming equipment and concepts. The suit alleged that Awada had committed copyright infringement when developing a table game known as Play Four Poker.
The courts ruled on behalf of Shuffle Master, and eventually, Awada was forced to shutter Gaming Entertainment entirely to cope with his mounting legal penalties and fees.
Currently, the trademark for 3-5-7 Poker has been allowed to lapse by Awada, and no new applications for renewal have been filed. The last reported sighting of a 3-5-7 Poker table in Las Vegas reported to the casino gambling forums occurred in 2007, and according to multiple reports from players, casino employees have told them that the game has been pulled due to the Shuffle Master lawsuit and subsequent dissolution of Gaming Entertainment.
In the world of casino game development, however, concepts can always be revived given a certain level of demand, so the game of 3-5-7 Poker may not a relic just yet.
For that reason, this page was written as an introduction to 3-5-7 Poker for players interested in learning more about this endangered hybrid table game. You’ll find a section covering the crucial rule changes which separate 3-5-7 Poker from similar games like Three Card Poker and Let It Ride, followed by advice on where to find the game, and finally, a section exploring proper strategy.
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Rules and How to Play
Like many of the popular hybrid table games to be invented during the last two decades, 3-5-7 Poker pits the player against a pay table, rather than the dealer.
Placing the Three Wagers
In this game, players begin by placing two of the three available wagers: 3-card hand, 5-card hand, and 7-card hand. The 3-card and 5-card bets are both mandatory while the 7-card bet remains optional.
Depending on the table stakes, players can bet anywhere between the minimum and the maximum, in variable increments, on either the two mandatory bets or all three. In other words, with a $5 table minimum, you could opt to bet $10 and $15 on the 3-card and 5-card bets, respectively, go with a $5-$5-$5 pattern on all three bets, or arrive at any number of alternative combinations.
Cards are Dealt
With your bets placed, a hand of 3-5-7 poker begins with the dealer distributing three cards face up to the player, along with four cards face down in front of the dealer box. These four cards aren’t the “dealer’s hand” like in blackjack and instead, act as “community” cards which can be used to complete the player’s 5-card and 7-card hands.
Based on the relative strength of the three face-up cards, players can then decide to surrender, or forfeit exactly half of their 7-card bet (should that bet be in play). If you surrender, half of your 7-card bet will be returned, while the other half if claimed by the house, and your other two bets remain in play.
3-Card Hand Payout
After the decision to surrender or not has been made, the dealer will then compare your three-card hand to the following poker hand rankings and pay table:
If your 3-card hand produces any of these qualifying hands, the dealer will pay out at the odds listed above. As you can see, the straight pays out 6 to 1, or slightly more than the 4 to 1 rate for making a flush, even though flushes outrank straights in traditional poker. This is because using only three cards makes forming straights a bit more difficult than landing flushes.
5-Card Hand Payout
Once the 3-card hand has been paid out (or the bet claimed by the house), the dealer will then expose the first two cards from the four cards laid out near the dealer box. These two cards are then combined with your three cards to form a new 5-card hand, which is scored according to the following pay table:
Once again, when your 5-card hand produces one of these qualifying hands, the dealer will distribute the corresponding payout.
7-Card Hand Payout
Finally, for players who have the 7-card bet in play, the dealer will turn over the last two cards, leaving seven cards face up on the felt. The player then forms the best possible five-card poker hand using those seven cards, before scoring their hand according to the following pay table:
The pay table for 7-card hands is lower than that used for 5-card hands because the two additional cards make forming strong poker hands a little easier.
When playing 3-5-7 Poker, players are competing against the pay table only, and not the dealer. This can make for a more engaging and entertaining experience as dealers are free to provide encouragement and celebration.
Best Places to Play 3-5-7 Poker
As mentioned above, the lawsuit filed by Shuffle Master against Awada and Gaming Entertainment effectively put all 3-5-7 Poker action on hold.
Previously, the game could be found regularly in the casinos of Nevada and Mississippi, but since 2007 sightings of 3-5-7 Poker tables have ceased altogether.
With online poker sites continuing to develop new games seemingly every week, though, and many designers unafraid to mimic or replicate successful games to create imitation versions, there’s still a chance that 3-5-7 Poker may enjoy a second life at some point in the future.
Strategic Considerations for 3-5-7 Poker
When it comes to the house edge attached to 3-5-7 Poker – the holy grail of statistics for savvy gamblers – Awada and the Gaming Entertainment team clearly designed the game to be an asset for casino managers and not players.
Per the mathematical analysis of respected casino game theorist Michael Shackleford, who runs the Wizard of Odds gambler resource site, 3-5-7 Poker offers players the following house edges on its three bets:
As you can see, all bets in 3-5-7 Poker offer fairly steep house edges, much higher than the “smart” bets found in blackjack, baccarat, and craps. Although this game isn’t as bad as double-zero roulette (5.26 percent), it is a worse bet than single-zero roulette (2.70 percent).
Even more interesting, the game’s two mandatory bets offer players the highest house edges, while the optional 7-card bet actually provides the most favorable odds. The designers of 3-5-7 Poker relied on the fact that players tend to balk at optional bets, building in the game’s most favorable odds while knowing most people at the table will limit their action to the 3-card and 5-card bets.
Bigger Wager on 7-Card Bet
With these numbers in front of you, it becomes clear that the first strategy tip to employ when playing 3-5-7 Poker is to always place a wager on the 7-card bet. Furthermore, because this bet offers the best odds, players should always place their largest wager on the 7-card bet, before scaling down on the other two bets.
Never Surrender 7-Card Bet
Finally, players should never surrender their 7-card bet, as doing so sacrifices the inherent equity contained in the wager’s lower house edge. Even if your chances of making a strong 7-card hand appear to be rather remote, surrendering this bet is still a mathematically worse play than simply keeping it in play and hoping to land a fortuitous draw.