A long time ago I wrote about the very rare situation when the AP is able to “top-card” Three Card Poker, that is, the AP will know the value of his first card prior to the cards being dealt. Here is a link to that post. I showed that the AP has a huge edge whenever he knows his first card will be an Ace or King, and the rest of the time the house has a big edge. Of course, the AP will be sitting at first base (or signaling his partner at first base).
Here are the edges, by top-card:
Assuming the AP was able to only play 1 unit when he knew the next card was an Ace or King, and sit out all other hands (poor player at second base!), here is a summary of his win-rate:
With a $100 wager whenever the top card is an Ace or King, this AP will earn about $667 per 100 hands.
This morning I received an email from an AP who obviously had found a situation where he could top-card. He rightfully stated that sitting out hands then jumping in when the card was an Ace or King was not a strategy that would last very long, and instead he wanted a play-all approach. He asked about the edge he could gain using a 4-to-1 bet spread, where he would bet 1 unit whenever the top-card was a 2 through Queen, and 4 units if the top-card was a King or an Ace. I think that will also trigger some heat eventually, but certainly it is a better choice than only playing Kings and Aces.
Here is the analysis of the 4-to-1 spread:
Wagering $25 when the top-card is a 2-to-Queen and $100 when the top-card is a King or an Ace, the AP will win about $25 x 16.638 = $416 per 100 hands. That’s pretty good! Not as good as only playing when the top-card is an Ace or King, but most of us would be pretty happy with a salary like that.
Here is a spreadsheet you can use to try out various spreads for yourself: 3CPTC_EV_Analysis