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Poking right along

28 July 2003

Dear Mark,
Just wanted to know if you knew anything about this new game called 3-5-7 Poker? It's being played here in the Mississippi casinos. What do you think of it? Bill S.

3-5-7 Poker is a simple poker-based game recently finding a home in many a casino from sea to shining sea. It is actually a three-game-high edifice in which the player bets on both 3-card and 5-card hands, and may also bet on a 7-card poker hand, with payoffs set by the standard pay table (see below).
Play begins with the player making at least two wagers. He must bet the 3-card and the 5-card hands, saving the optional 7-card hand for dessert. Players can bet different amounts on each hand, subject to the casino's table minimum and maximum.

The dealer then deals each player three cards, and four cards to herself to be used as "community cards." The player reviews his three cards and then considers the option of surrendering his last hand (seven-card poker), or letting it stand.

The first game, poker with three cards, is based on the first three cards dealt to you. Here, you need a pair or better to win.

3-Card Hand Pay Table
Hand Pays
Straight flush 40 to 1
Three of a kind 25 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair 1 to 1

Next, you play the obligatory five-card round, where the dealer exposes his first two community cards, making this the five-card game. (Yeah, I know, the dealer was a "she" a moment ago, and is now a "he." Odd things happen.) To win, you'll need 6s or better.

5-Card Hand Pay Table

Hand Pays
Royal flush 500 to 1
Straight flush 100 to 1
4 of a kind 40 to 1
Full House 12 to 1
Flush 9 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
3 of a kind 4 to 1
2 pair 3 to 1
Pair (6s or better) 1 to 1

Finally, the dealer (Guess) exposes the last two cards, and you are now playing seven-card poker, but only the best five of seven cards are used. Without at least two pair (10s high or better), you lose.

7-Card Hand Pay Table

Hand Pays
Royal flush 100 to 1
Straight flush 20 to 1
4 of a kind 7 to 1
Full House 5 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Straight 3 to 1
3 of a kind 2 to 1
2 pair (10's or better) 1 to 1

Here's a summary of the house's edge on each of the three games.
On three-card: 3.49%,
on five-card: 4.12%, and ...
on seven-card: 3.28%.

Like the game itself, strategy for 3-5-7 poker is quite simple. The player should never surrender the 7-card hand since it has the lowest house edge. Also, because the player may bet any amount on any hand, he should bet the most on the 7-card hand, and the least on his 5-card hand.

You asked, Bill, if I knew the game (answered) and what I think of it (stay tuned). All three games have more than my threshold 2% casino advantage, so for this columnist, it's a triple thumbs-down ... unless, of course, you're running the casino.

Gambling thought of the week: A guy walks into a bar and notices three men and a dog playing poker. The dog is playing beautifully. "That's a smart dog," the man says. "Not really," says one of the players. "Every time he gets a good hand, he wags his tail." from Poker Nation, by Andy Bellin

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Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.