Not much is known about the origins of the hybrid table game known as Q Poker.
Essentially a carbon copy of the classic casino game Three Card Poker, with a few rule changes thrown in to differentiate the product, Q Poker doesn’t break new ground with its gameplay.
Remove the raise/fold decision point from Three Card Poker, replace it with a surrender/stand alternative, and you have Q Poker.
The game was said to have been played in the casinos of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – better known as Asia’s gambling mecca Macau – in or around 2007. Specifically, Q Poker had a home at the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau, but that was nearly a decade ago, and today the game doesn’t seem to have spread any further.
Today Q Poker is viewed more as a relic of the hybrid table game boom, or an extension of Asia’s unique gambling culture, rather than an active game.
Even so, even defunct casino games deserve their due, so this page has been compiled to provide a comprehensive guide to Q Poker. First up is a detailed walkthrough of the game’s rules and procedures, along with a guide to finding the game, and a strategy section designed to give you a better idea on how to play your cards correctly.
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Rules and How to Play
First things first: Q Poker is almost a clone of Three Card Poker, aside from one crucial adjustment to the rules.
So readers who may not be familiar with the classic casino game should head over first to our main Three Card Poker page. Brush up on the base game first, and you’ll be better prepared to take on the variant known as Q Poker.
The game utilizes the standard 52 card deck of playing cards, with all cards holding their usual value (2s are lowest, As are highest).
The objective of Q Poker is to land a three card poker hand which outranks the dealer’s own hand. Players don’t have the ability to draw for replacement cards, so your original starting hand is what you’ll be working with, but Q Poker does offer a surrender option for when you happen to hold inferior cards.
Any three-card version of a poker-based table game must obviously use a modified version of the traditional poker hand hierarchy. After all, it’s going to be quite difficult to land a full house using only three cards.
So take a look at how three card poker hands stack up in Q Poker:
- Straight Flush (any three consecutive cards, all in the same suit: Qh Jh 10h)
- Three of a Kind (any three cards of the same rank: Qh Qd Qs)
- Straight (any three consecutive unsuited cards: 9d 8s 7h
- Flush (any three cards of the same suit: 9d 6d 2d)
- One Pair (any two cards of the same rank: Jh Jd X)
- High Card (no pair and a single high card: Ad 4h 2s)
You may have noticed that straights outrank flushes on the three card poker hand rankings. Normally, in five card poker variants, flushes are ranked higher than straights, because it’s a little more difficult to find five cards of the same suit than it is to land five consecutive unsuited cards.
With only three cards to work with, however, flushes are actually easier to find than straights, and this the order has been reversed when it comes to ranking hands.
Playing Q Poker
Step #1: Place Your Bet
To begin the game, players must put up one of two optional bets: the Ante bet and the Pair Plus bet.
Unlike most table games, the Ante bet isn’t considered mandatory, so you can decide between making just the Ante bet, the Ante, and the Pair Plus bets together, or just the Pair Plus bet. It’s all up to you, but as you’ll learn in the strategy section, one of these bets offers much better odds than the other.
Throughout this section, we’ll return to a running example hand to help illustrate critical gameplay concepts as seen from the player’s perspective. So let’s imagine we’ve just put up the standard $5 chip on the Ante bet space, along with $5 more for the Pair Plus bet.
Step #2: Hole cards Handed
With all player wagers placed, the dealer will then distribute three cards face down to each player, along with three cards face down to the dealer spot. You can take a look at your hand of course, but don’t try to share any information about the cards with fellow players, as this practice will be more than frowned upon.
For our running example hand, we’ve been dealt the As 4s 2s. We start out with a huge hand with the ace high spade flush (in reality, you won’t make powerful hands like this so easily, but we’ve rigged the game just a bit here to give you a better idea of how the premium payout tables for big hands will work later on in the section.
Step #3: Player Decision
Once you’ve examined your starting hand, the game’s first and only player decision point takes place: Surrender* or Stand.
The surrender option is only available to players who have placed the Ante bet, so Pair Plus only bettors will not be able to surrender.
Returning to the running example hand, we aren’t going anywhere with an ace high flush, so we’ll play and continue on to the showdown.
Step #4: Dealer Cards Revealed
Once all players have run through this surrender/stand decision, the dealer will then reveal their own three-card holding.
For the running example hand, the dealer turns over the Kh Kc 3d for a pair of kings. This would ordinarily be a very strong hand, but up against our ace high flush, it simply can’t contend.
The dealer must show down a hand ranked at queen high or better in order to qualify.
Losing player hands result in the Ante bet being lost to the house.
Ties between the dealer and player result in the Ante bet being returned as a push.
Hand Payout Tables
Winning player hands are paid out according to the following pay table:
|Q Poker Ante Bet Pay Table|
|Straight Flush||3 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||2 to 1|
|Straight||3 to 2|
|All Other||1 to 1|
In the running example hand, we’ve downed the dealer’s pair of kings with a flush. According to the pay table, we earn an even money payout of 1 to 1 on our $5 Ante bet – good for a $5 profit.
As for the Pair Plus bet, this wager is paid out based on the value of your three card hand alone – regardless of what the dealer shows down. So even if the dealer beats you holding a huge hand, you’ll still earn a payout on the Pair Plus bet – provided your hand is also strong.
Here’s how the Pair Plus pay table breaks down:
|Q Poker Pair Plus Bet Pay Table|
|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|
As you can see, the Pair Plus bet’s escalating pay table provides the game’s excitement, offering players the chance to turn a single red $5 chip into $200 when they happen to land a straight flush. Other premium hands offer premium payouts as well, so you’ll see most players splashing around on the Pair Plus bet, hoping to pull in stacks of chips when the cards align.
For the running example hand, we formed an ace high flush in spades, which didn’t matter all that much for the Ante bet (aside from beating the dealer). But for the Pair Plus bet, making a flush is good for a 4 to 1 payout, so we just earned a $20 profit on our $5 wager.
Once all Ante and Pair Plus bets have been settled, the dealer will collect the cards, reshuffle the deck, and begin a new hand.
Best Places to Play Q Poker
Unfortunately for fans of the game, it doesn’t look like Q Poker ever spread outside the confines of Macau.
If you happen to live in Asia or visit there regularly, a side trip to Macau offers your best bet of finding Q Poker tables in the casino setting.
With that said, the Grand Lisboa Casino where Q Poker was first spotted no longer runs the game and searches through the Table Games section on various Macau casino websites also turn up no current results.
In all likelihood, Q Poker has come and gone, disappearing from the casino industry altogether like so many other hybrid table game creations. Look for similar games on the best online poker sites.
Strategic Considerations for Q Poker
Because the game shares an almost identical structure with Three Card Poker, strategy for Q Poker can be boiled down into the same ironclad rule regarding hand strength:
- When holding a hand of Q 6 4 or better, you should play
- When holding a hand of Q 6 3 or worse, you should surrender
This basic threshold forms the “middle ground” so to speak, or the exact cutoff point between playable hands and those which should be surrendered.
Thus, hands like Q 6 5 or Q 7 2 would fall on the “play” side of the spectrum, while hands like Q 6 2 or Q 5 4 would constitute the “surrender” side.
House Edge Rates
As for the strategy behind which bet to make, Q Poker’s odd system of making both the Ante and Pair Plus bets optional gives players something to think about. Of course, most players will still view the Ante bet as the standard play, with the Pair Plus representing a side bet.
But let’s compare the house edge rates for both bets to see how they stack up.
On the Ante bet alone, you’ll be up against an overall house edge of 2.76 percent.
For the Pair Plus bet alone, the house edge working against you falls to 2.32 percent.
So, strategically speaking, you’ll be much better off sticking to the Pair Plus bet at all times, while leaving the Ante bet alone.