Tri-Card Poker Strategy

Although you can’t beat tri-card poker for a profit, shy of maybe cheating or having the power of telepathy, there are strategies that you can use to at least improve your chances.

Let’s look at a couple of those strategies.

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Bet Q/6/4 or Better Hands

This is the most basic tri-card poker strategy. All you do is raise all hands that are Q/6/4 or better.

For example, hands that you would raise include:

  • Q/7/2
  • K/5/3
  • K/Q/J

Now take the hand, Q/7/2. Some people might be confused as to why this is a better hand. Well, all you do is take one hand at a time. We have the queen, so we move on to the next card. It’s a 7, which is better than a 6, making it a stronger hand and one that you need to raise.

Another question that people have are about hands that are borderline with our minimum of Q/6/4. Why not raise a hand like Q/6/3 or Q/4/4?

According to the Wizard of Odds, the reason is that raising on Q/6/4 results in less than one unit (bet) loss, while raising on Q/6/3 results in over a unit of loss. If you’re “unit” was $1, you’d lose less than a dollar following the Q/6/4 strategy, and over a dollar raising Q/6/3.

It’s a small difference for sure, but a difference that can add up over time.

It should also go without saying that you should raise all pairs, straights and flushes, too.

Dealer Flashes a Card

Another strategy is to look at the dealer’s cards while he is dealing. The Wizard of Odds says that although dealers are trained to keep cards low and parallel to the table while dealing, they often flash their cards accidentally. You can use this knowledge to your advantage.

Here is what you should do if you can see the dealer’s cards:

  • 2 to J: Raise always.
  • Q: Raise with Q-9-2 or better.
  • K: Raise with K-9-2 or better.
  • A: Raise with A-9-2 or better.

…. and if you know that the dealer has a face card, then you should raise all hands that are Q/J/5 or better. If you know that the dealer doesn’t have a face card, then you should raise all the time.

Pairs Plus Strategy

One question that you might is whether or not you should play the pairs plus bonus. The answer is: it depends.

If you check out they’ll tell you that it will depend on the casino. Some casinos’ pair plus option only has a house edge of 2.32%. This is would be a decent bet. However, other casinos will have house edges of over 5%, which is obviously a worse bet – and one that you should avoid.

And the truth of the matter is that most casinos will fall under the latter than the former. The most common pay table for pairs plus bets is:

  • Straight Flush – 40
  • 3 of a Kind – 30
  • Straight – 5
  • Flush – 4
  • Pair – 1
  • Nothing – -1

This pay table has a house edge of 5.57%. And in worse case scenarios, the house edge can be as high as 7.28%.

So, like I said, it depends. In most cases you shouldn’t play the pairs plus option since the majority of (major) casinos will have the worst payouts. However, if you do find a casino that offers the following pay table:

  • Straight Flush – 40
  • 3 of a Kind – 30
  • Straight – 6
  • Flush – 4
  • Pair – 1
  • Nothing – -1

… then go ahead and play the pairs plus if you want. It’ll be the only time that it’s worth it.