The Next Big Game

            Part 2 of my preview of table games at the 2011 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) will focus on two games that I did the math on.  Both of the games come from Shuffle Master and both with also be on display at their booth this year.   From what I understand, the 'live' table half of their booth will contain ONLY brand new games.  Up this week, Ultimate Three Card Poker and San Lo Poker.

Ultimate Three Card Poker

            If you only take a quick look, you may think this is just Three Card Poker.  If you look closely, you'll see a variety of twists have been added in.  The betting structure if vastly different.  To begin play, the Player must make an Ante AND Blind wager (equal aize).  The Player and the Dealer will each get their three cards, but now one of the Dealer's cards is turned face up.  This is a lot of information given it is just a 3-card hand.  As in the original Three Card Poker, the Player may now either Fold (surrendering BOTH his initial wagers) or make a Play bet.  If he has a Pair or Better, he may make a Play bet of 3x his Ante. 

            Qualifying still exists in Ultimate Three Card Poker, but the rules are a bit different.  If the Dealer does not have at least a Queen High or Better, the Ante pushes and all other wagers stay in action.  If the Dealer has a Queen High or Better, then all wagers are in action.  If the Player beats the Dealer, his Ante and Play win even money (unless the Dealer did not qualify in which case the Ante pushes).  The Blind will push if the Player beats the Dealer with less than a Flush and will win odds if he wins with a Flush or better.

            The critical thing to know about Ultimate Three Card Strategy is FORGET Q-6-4. Knowing one of the Dealer's cards make a whole lot of difference in what we Play vs. Fold.   I'll cover the detailed strategy at a later date, but I can tell you that Ultimate Three Card Poker affords the Player a strong 98.81%.  It will, however, require that you learn a strategy more complex than Q-6-4, but it is one that you can master easily.

San Lo Poker

            The first time I saw Pai Gow Poker, I thought it was some sort of high roller game, requiring a large bankroll.  When I found out more about it, it turns out it is likely the slowest game in the casino - at least from a bankroll perspective.  Around 40% of the hands end in a push with the Player winning 1 hand and the Dealer winning one hand.

            If you want to eliminate this condition, split the cards into 3 separate hands instead of 2 and require the Player to win 2 out of 3 hands to win.  Now, there is no such thing as a push.  To keep things more exciting, deal only 6 cards instead of 7 and you have San Lo Poker.  You can't get much easier than this.  The Player makes a single wager and is dealt 6 cards.  He must break it down into a 3-Card Hand, a 2-Card Hand and a 1-Card Hand (also called High, Mid and Low hands).  As in Pai Gow, the High Hand must outrank the Mid Hand which must outrank the Low Hand.

            The Dealer will also be dealt 6 cards and break his hand down according to the House Rules (which I helped develop).   As these rules are fairly complex, San Lo is played on tables with Shuffle Master's i-verify which has card recognition software built-in and will tell the Dealer how to set the cards.  A Player may opt to have his hand set the same way and can ask the Dealer for assistance to do this.

            The human playable strategy is still being developed, but at this point, I'm fairly certain that to maximize the payback, the Player does NOT always want to mimic the House Rules.  With a goal of winning two out of three, sometimes it pays to sacrifice one to help win the other two. 

            The payback of San Lo is just under 99% but there is no messy commission to deal with.  I'll cover this game in more detail in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I suggest you stop by the Shuffle Master booth and check this one out.  It's an exciting twist that adds a bit more thinking to the classic Pai Gow Poker game.

            If you make it to the G2E this year, please feel free to drop me a line ( if you see any other table games along with any comments you may have.  I'll be wandering around the show floor for most of the three days, checking out the next big game!