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Table Games Vs. Video Keno

Updated: May 9

I love table games – 3 Card Poker, Baccarat, Craps, Blackjack, Pai Gow, and Roulette - more than I do slots. I was raised by a dice rolling Father who sold his game systems and tutored players. While I know that long term you can never beat any casino game, I still love to play - sensibly. I know my limits, and I stick to them. Ideally, it takes a hefty starting bank to get into table games. There are exceptions. I’ve walked up to a table with $20 and left a half-hour later with a stack of cash. But that’s rare.

By way of comparison, a player can make as much or more with 4 Card Keno as they do 3 Card Poker for a smaller initial investment. I really love 3 Card Poker, but at the $5 level, an ideal 3 Card win only pays $150 – 200. That’s for a 3-of-a-Kind or a straight flush. To win those “jackpots”, one needs to place a minimum $5 PAIR PLUS bet and the minimum ANTE bet.

Most casinos have higher minimums, but you can find $5 tables at Silverton, South Point and elsewhere. So, a $5 min on two little circles on the table to start with. Of course, you must also back up the ANTE with a matching PLAY bet if you think you have a winning hand. Then there’s the optional 6th Card wager and maybe a progressive jackpot bet. Those run from $1-5. Assume $5 on each of those. Not all casinos offer the 6th card option, but most offer the progressive side bet. Bet on those and you’re at the $20 per hand level – or more.

I try to only play 3 Card Poker at casinos that offer the 6th Card option because that bet can save your bacon when you have an otherwise lousy hand. The 6th card option allows you to group your hand together with the dealers to see if you can turn a garbage hand into gold. Let’s say you’re dealt a 2-3-6 (off suit) - a nothing hand. But if you placed that 6th card bet, and the dealer turns up 4-5-9, also a lousy hand (the dealer needs a queen or higher for their hand to even count) – now you add the dealer’s 4-5-9 with your 2-3-6 and voila! - you have a 5 card straight! 2-3-4-5-6. There are other winning 6th card combos. Payouts vary.

A Royal Flush in a 6th card situation pays 1000 -1. I haven’t checked lately, but one Nevada casino used to pay $100k for a 6 Card Diamond flush. Nine through Ace – diamonds only.

Look for the payout grid on the table layout. It may be posted on a placard. If not, don’t be shy about inquiring with the dealer or pit bosses so you know what you’re getting into.

I’ll occasionally play 3 Card Poker at a house with higher minimums. Take the Venetian for example. As of this writing the minimum there is $15 and must be placed in the ANTE position. I’d prefer that the minimum requirement be counted when placed on PAIR PLUS, because that’s where the money is. A straight flush pays 40-1 on PAIR PLUS, but only 5-1 on the ANTE. Obviously, you want to bet as much as you can afford on PAIR PLUS. Technically, the house edge is lower on Ante bets, but so is the payoff. I’m here to gamble, so I’ll usually go for the bigger payoff, keeping in mind that some so-called sucker bets really are just that – for instance, the Big 6 and Big 8 wagers in Craps.

To summarize: a player can make $40 to $500 playing 20 cents on a 4 Card Keno machine – a much smaller, longer lasting investment than what they'd have to risk at some tables for the same return. Having said that, it IS gambling, and anything can happen. Play what YOU like and what YOU can afford. That’s the bottom line.

Thanks for reading.

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