"Uhhh, yep, I sure have," was my response, although I wondered why my friend would label this as what he called a "brand new game." Being in the orange county casino party rental business, it's my job to keep up on all the new trends, even when they're NOT so 'new.' Agh, no problem, I said to myself, I'll correct him later. "So, where did you see 3 Way-Action being spread?"
"Well, my friend saw it while he was up north (California), played it for a while, and thought it was a lot of fun, so he introduced the game to our Friday Poker Party, and it was a big hit! We played all night!" (Actually, that wasn't an unusual suggestion by my friend, who goes by the name of 'Night Owl.' He and his card-playing buddies would stay up until 6 a.m. playing 'Madden NFL Football,' if the side bets were right.
"One problem," the friend lamented. Uh-oh....I'm smelling a rules-violation right about now. "We're not sure we're playing it the right way. Could you come over to my place next Friday, and teach us the rules of the game?"
Wow, hmmm, let me see.....Well, it's a tough choice between listening to my two sons fight over the 'Wii' system for three hours on Friday night, or go over to my friend's house and spend the evening talking about my favorite thing in life -- Casino games, and the best ways to play them. "Great, we'll see you at 7 p.m.! Don't bring anything, we'll supply the food."
Friday couldn't come soon enough. My sons decided to boost up the night of the weekly 'Wii' argument from Friday to Thursday, so I wouldn't miss all of the fun with them. And, when Friday DID come around, I made the trek over to Friday Poker Party Central, in order to discuss the now-infamous "3 Way-Action."
"Here, let's show you how we're playing 3 Way-Action," my buddy says. And, as promised, he deals out a hand of the game in question, and it looks like they've got the right idea of how the game is dealt, but they're a little off in the way the initial wagers are made. "OK, stop right here," I say. "Let's go over how the game works, right from the beginning."
"First off, you're asking how this 'brand new game' works, but it's not new, at all. It's been hanging around on the fringes of the casino industry ever since the WSOP's own Joe Awada created the game for his company, Gaming Entertainment, quite some time ago." (We consider it our job to keep up on ALL of the new games and trends in the industry, as well as their history. Hey, we're not the orange county casino party leaders for nothing. Grin) After my short, boring history lesson about the game, it was time to get down to the business of how "3 Way-Action" worked. Here is how the game was taught to this very attentive group....
3-Way Action is a game played on a Blackjack-style layout, with three distinct betting boxes in front of each of the six players at the table. These bet-boxes are marked "High Card, Blackjack, and Poker." To play the game, a player must place a bet in each of the three boxes, and unlike games like Let It Ride, the bets in the three boxes do not necessarily have to be in the same exact amounts. Players can make any size wager in each of the three boxes, but may not remove any wagers made after the first card is dealt.
The first game played at the table is "High Card," also known by some players as "War" or "Combat." It's just as described - High card. The dealer will deal one card up to each of the players, and one card up to himself. If your card is bigger than the dealers, you win, simple as that. If not, you lose. If the player and dealer TIE, the player loses exactly half of the original "high card" bet, which is the "vig" for the house. The house edge for this part of the game, because of the half-bet loss on a tie is almost 3% (2.94%, to be exact).
Next up, we move to game #2 in 3 Way-Action, "Blackjack." That "High Card" that you initially received to start the game? You keep it, and will be dealt another card, face up, so each player has a two-card Blackjack hand. (The dealer will deal HIS/HER second card down, of course.)
Now, each player plays Blackjack against the dealer. Now, if you hit your 2-card Blackjack hand, all subsequent cards that you get will remain in your hand for the third part of the game, the poker hand. So, the players play Blackjack against the dealer, and those bets are paid or collected, with ties being a push. BUT....ALL cards that the players / dealer receive during Blackjack play remain on the table, as part of those players' hands.
Note: If the player draws to seven cards totaling twenty-one (21) or less, the player wins automatically . (Even money.) House edge in Blackjack, taking all normal factors into account -- About another 0.5%, give or take a smidge. You Basic Strategy players know the deal with this scenario....
So, now, with the Blackjack portion of the game completed, the table moves to the last of the games to be played - "Poker." It's now like Seven-Card-Stud Poker. Each of the players will be dealt cards face up, in turn, until each of them has seven cards in front of them, their poker hand. Simply stated, if your best five cards in your poker hand beats the dealers' best five, your "Poker" wager is paid off, even money.
House edge for the third and final installment of 3 Way-Action -- We're figuring about 3.4%, maybe a little less, depending on what the payouts are in regards to an optional side bet on the poker hand-portion of the game called the "Bonus Bet." This is a side wager made before any of the cards are dealt, and pays off players that end up with hands of 3-of-a-kind or more (which pays 3-to-1).
House edge on the bonus bet -- Well, it depends on the payouts of he various poker hands, but the odds in regards to a "Bonus Bet" payout sheet that WE saw at a Northern California casino some time ago would land around a 12.5% vig for the house. (You know how those bonus bets are. Stay away from this one.)
"Wow, thanks," my friend said, after the class was dismissed. "You really do have all the info on that game. Sounds like, all in all, the odds in favor of the house really aren't that bad when it comes to 3 Way-Action, are they?"
I remember my answer.... "Actually, no, as casino games go, the odds in favor of the house aren't that bad at all. Just remember your basic strategy when it comes to Blackjack, and to stay away from the optional Bonus Bet, and you should enjoy your next session of 3 Way-Action."
"Thanks again," my friend told me, as I was leaving his house, and heading back home. "We really appreciate it." Have a good evening!"
"You're welcome," I shot back, as I walked back to my car, and back to what I was SURE was another "Wii War" waiting for me when I got home.
Hey, when you're the orange county casino party leader, you have to know when you have the house edge, don't you? Just one word will swing the percentages back into my favor, and give me back that coveted "House Edge."