Three Card Rummy is a casino poker game, meaning that it’s derived from classic player vs player poker, but instead the player plays against the house. It seems likely that Three Card Rummy – given its three card format – is a derivative of Three Card Poker. Three Card Rummy is played with a standard 52 card deck.
This game is also often called ‘Vegas Three Card Rummy’.
Currently we are only aware of Three Card Rummy being available at casinos using Betsoft, Microgaming and RealTime Gaming softwares. Cryptologic casinos used to offer this game, but since their purchase by Amaya Three Card Rummy appears to have been removed from their game catalogue.
Initially the player places an ‘Ante’ wager and the dealer will deal out 3 cards to the player face up and 3 cards to themselves face down. The player then adds up the point value of their three cards using the following rules;
· All cards carry their pip point value with Aces always counting as 1 and face cards counting as 10.
· If you hold two or three cards of matching rank (a pair or 3 of a Kind) these cards will be counted as 0 rather than their individual point value.
· If you hold 2 or 3 cards of the same suit that are numerically adjacent these cards will be counted as 0 rather than their individual point value.
In the above screenshot the player holds 3 of a Kind, meaning that their hand has a points total of zero. The dealer holds a pair of sevens which get counted as zero, leaving them with a point total from the remaining card of 3.
Once the player has seen their cards they then have the choice to either ‘Fold’ the hand, losing their Ante wager, or place an additional ‘Play’ wager equal to their Ante wager. If the player choses to Fold the hand is over. If they choose to Play, the dealer will turn over their cards and add up their point total. The hand with the lowest point total is the winner.
If the player wins the hand there are several possible payouts, depending on the hand they hold and the hand the dealer holds. The Ante bet is always paid out at 1 to 1. If the dealer holds a hand of more than 20 they are consider not to have qualified and regardless of the player’s hand the player’s Play bet will result in a push. If the dealer holds a total of 20 or less they are considered to have qualified and the player’s Play bet will be paid as follows;
|Player's hand point total||Payout
|0||4 to 1
|1-5||2 to 1
|6-19||1 to 1
The Three Card Rummy games we are aware of offer an optional side bet or the point value of the player’s hand.
|Player's hand point total||Payout
|Ace, 2, 3 suited run||100 to 1
|0||25 to 1
|1-6||2 to 1
|7-10||1 to 1
|11-12||4 to 1
The House Edge of Three Card Rummy across the full round of wagering (Ante and Play bet) and assuming that the player plays using the optimal strategy discussed below is 1.93%. If the player does not play optimally this figure will rise.
The House Edge of the Bonus bet is 3.46%.
Optimal strategy for Three Card Rummy is remarkably straight forward. Do not play the Bonus bet, place the Play bet if your hand total is 20 or less and Fold the hand if the total is 21 or more.
Below you can find a calculator to allow you to check the fairness of your wins/losses when playing Three Card Rummy. Please note that this calculator is only accurate if you’ve been playing using the optimum strategy described above.
Hole Carding, Steering or Sorting
Unlike Blackjack the techniques used to gain an advantage over the game of Three Card Rummy in the offline environment are not nearly so widely discussed. Gaining information on dealer’s hole cards – be that via edge sorting, steering or hold carding – may produce a player advantage as long as the information is used to alter the player’s strategy. With perfect knowledge of all three Hole Cards, the player would be able to gain a significant edge over the house as they would be able to make perfect Play/Fold decisions.
The relative infrequency of this game alongside the rarity of being able to obtain information on the dealer’s hole cards and the high skill level involved ensure that only the most diligent of professional players are ever likely to come across this information and it seems highly likely that if a person was skilled enough to find such an opportunity, they could more easily find stronger advantages playing more common games.
There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage playing online Three Card Rummy games. By and large these involve the use of promotions, bonuses and comp point systems as the games by themselves – assuming the game is functioning in a correct fashion and there are no errors in the paytable – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffles after every hand.
It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Three Card Rummy and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Three Card Rummy is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.
* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.