Roger Snow is the senior vice president at Bally Technologies and also a renowned table games inventor. We recently caught up with him to talk about the popular game of Three Card Poker, a game that inspired him in his career and one that resonates with players around the world.



John Grochowski: Why do players love Three Card Poker?

Roger Snow: A, I think Three Card Poker really hits the fat part of the bell curve with players. First of all, itâ??s simple, which always helps. Itâ??s not the only thing a game needs, but itâ??s really easy to understand. Secondly, the math is just magical. You hear about athletes that are genetically gifted. Well Three Card Poker is mathematically gifted, especially if you look at something like Pair Plus. Just the way the math works out, itâ??s any pair, not a pair of 7s, not a pair of 8s or better. Itâ??s any pair. Hit frequency is about 25 percent, so thatâ??s great. On a full table, youâ??ll almost always see somebody hit it. The other hands are relatively easy to make. Flushes, straights, even the top hand of a straight flush. You compare that to five-card games, you almost never will see the top two or three hands, but in Three Card Poker you do. They pay a little bit less, but they still pay 30-1, 40-1. Those are high quality payouts, theyâ??re going to happen, and theyâ??re very achievable.


JG: How is it different from other proprietary games?

RS: You have to put yourself back in 1995, 1996 when it came out. It really changed the way people thought about table games. Before that, the only two successful games were Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride, and they have a lot of bells and whistles on them. Caribbean Stud of course had the progressive and Let It Ride had the tournament, but they all had electronics, and they were really selling a life-changing award. Three Card Poker comes along and says, hey, Iâ??m just colored circles on a felt, and my top award is 40-1, and it came in and just blew everything off the map.


From a game developerâ??s standpoint, thatâ??s the one that I looked at. I donâ??t look at Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud, and thatâ??s why the games that Iâ??ve done arenâ??t really bell and whistle games. Theyâ??re just, â??Hey, Iâ??m going to try to put together a game with a mathematical formula that people like.â?


JG: What should someone playing for the first time know about Three Card Poker?

RS:  First of all, the environment tends to be very social. Itâ??s not combative, like blackjack can be, where people think if they donâ??t play right, people will yell at them â?? which is true. In Three Card Poker, with the dealer and the other players, itâ??s very social. The second thing is that people, when they play a game and risk their own money, they want to know the optimal way to play the game, if possible. Three Card Poker is very simple. If you have Queen-6-4 or better you play, if you donâ??t you fold. Itâ??s a very easy strategy. I tell people to enjoy the side bets as well, Pair Plus, which is on every Three Card Poker table, and 6 Card Bonus, is on about half the Three Card Poker tables now, thatâ??s only about three years old. Thatâ??s a great bet. The game didnâ??t need revitalizing, but it 6 Card Bonus really amped up the popularity of it.