How to Play Three Card Blackjack

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The Blackjack variant known as “Three Card Blackjack” is easy to learn and play. It has become especially popular in casinos located throughout the State of Washington in the USA, as well as in Las Vegas and at certain online gaming sites. One reason for its popularity is that, unlike many modern versions of the game, Three Card Blackjack is most often played with a single 52-card deck, not a shoe containing multiple decks.

Play begins with each player making an ante wager in the designated ante betting circle on the table surface. Once all bets have been made, the dealer distributes three cards to each player and three cards to himself or herself. All of the players’ cards are dealt face down, while the dealer’s are dealt two cards down and one face up. Next, the players and the dealer each select any two or all three of their three cards to form the best blackjack hand possible.

As in other versions of Blackjack, Aces may be counted as either 1 point or 11 points. The cards 2 through 10 are counted at face value and all of the “court cards” (Jack, Queen and King) are valued at 10 points. The object is to create a hand with as close to 21 points as possible without going over (busting).

Once the players have viewed their three cards, they have the option to “raise” by placing a bet equal to the original ante in the “play” betting area. Alternatively, a player may choose to fold the hand and forfeit the ante. Only players who have raised have the opportunity to compete against the dealer’s hand.

There is no action round in Three Card Blackjack. Players do not have the option to hit, double down or split. There is no possibility of busting, either—not for the players or the dealer. There is, however, a special rule for the dealer, requiring that his or her hand “qualify” with a total value of 18 or more.

If the Dealer fails to qualify, then all of the players’ ante bets pay even money, 1-to-1, and the raise or “play” bet is treated as a push, with the wager returned. However, whenever the dealer qualifies, each player’s hand is compared against the dealer’s hand to determine the winner.

There are four possible outcomes for the player in a hand of Three Card Blackjack. First, if the player does not make the raise bet and fails to play, the original ante is lost no matter whether the dealer qualifies or not. Second, if the player makes the raise and has two cards forming a blackjack (natural 21), the player always wins 1-to-1 on both the ante bet and the play bet. Again, it doesn’t make any difference whether the dealer has a qualifying hand or not, and the player wins even if the dealer also has a blackjack.

Third, in the case where the player makes the raise bet and the dealer fails to qualify, the player receives a payout of 1-to-1 on the original ante wager; the play bet is considered a push and the wager is returned. Fourth, when the player makes the raise and the dealer qualifies, the best hand wins. Wins by the player pay 1-to-1 on both the ante and play bets. If the dealer wins, the player loses all wagers. Ties other than a blackjack result in a push with no winner or loser; all wagers are returned to the player.

One other special aspect of Three Card Blackjack is the availability of a side bet known as the “Ace Plus Bonus.” This optional wager can be played alone or in conjunction with the Three Card Blackjack hand. In order to take advantage of this side bet, the player must place a wager in the designated Ace Plus betting circle on the surface of the table before the next hand is dealt.

Wagering on the Ace Plus means a bonus of at least 1-to-1 is paid out whenever the player’s hand contains an Ace. Higher bonuses are paid out for bigger hands as follows: 3-to-1 for an Ace and any card valued at 10 through King; 5-to-1 for an Ace and any pair valued at 10 through King; 15-to-1 for a pair of Aces; 25-to-1 for a pair of Aces and any card valued at 10 through King; and 100-to-1 for three Aces.

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