From a distance, the Three Card Poker table strongly resembles a Blackjack table. Both will usually have a green or blue felt surface. There will be positions for six or seven players on one side of the table, with a seat for each. A single dealer will be standing on the other side. The perimeter of the table may be lined with a wood or leather-covered rail, featuring built-in cup holders and ashtrays. But as one draws closer, the differences become apparent.
Like all casino table games, the layout for Three Card Poker has been designed for both ease of play and maximum security. The dealerís side of the table is a restricted area. Except for pit supervisors and the dealer, no one is allowed to stand there, including spectators. Those who wish to watch the game must stand behind the players or else at the ends of the table. This helps reduce the possibility of collusive cheating, while ensuring that casino employees are not disturbed as they go about their business.
A grooved rack containing the casino chips used in play is located directly in front of the dealer. The lower denomination chips fill the outer grooves of the rack and higher valued chips are positioned in the center, thus making it difficult for a passerby to grab a handful and run off. Also on the dealerís side of the table there should be a Table Limits sign, indicating the minimum and maximum bets allowed, plus any House Rules for betting and payouts.
Typically, two slots will appear in the table surface on the dealerís right. The longer one of the two is for the insertion of cash that players exchange for chips; the shorter one is for tips given to the dealer. Directly below the slots and beneath the table surface are locked cash boxes. From time to time, security will accompany a cashier to the table to retrieve the boxes and replace them with empty ones. Some tables do not feature a slot for tips. When this is the case, the dealers may drop tips into a breast pocket, else they may be stacked behind the tableís discard tray.
Because the intellectual property rights to Three Card Poker are owned by Shuffle Master, it comes as no surprise that the companyís automatic shuffling machines are installed at each table. These time-savers are constantly mixing the cards from four or more decks. The dealer will replenish the decks with cards from the discard tray after each hand played, which results in optimum randomisation for every deal.
On the playerís side of the table layout, a set of three geometric shapes appears in front of each player position to indicate his/her betting areas. The order of the shapes may vary from one casino to another. Most often, the three form a column that points toward the dealerís side of the table. The first spot is where the Ante wager is placed, the second is for the Play bet and the third accommodates the Pair Plus side bet. Some layouts use circles for the Pair Plus betting areas and rectangles or diamonds for the Ante and Play bets, but they will always be clearly marked.
Both the Ante bet and the Pair Plus wager must in place before the cards are dealt for a new hand. Players have to be careful to position the chips that are bet completely within their respective spots. Chips that are not being wagered may be stacked directly in front each player on the felt against the rail.
After the dealing has begun, players are allowed to pick up their cards and check the rank and value of their hands. Then, bets may be made in the Play area or the hand can be folded. Touching of wagered chips is not permitted until after all bets have been settled at the very end of the hand. Successful Pair Plus wagers are paid off when each player reveals his/her hand, regardless of whether the hand beats the dealerís.