John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

From time to time, table games inventors ask if I’ll take a look at their games, whether just to add my input or for a little publicity. I can’t get to every game – if I did, this column would be strictly a new games report.

One that caught my eye recently is 31 Classic, which has had a good run at the Muckleshoot Casino in Washington state. Along with a sister game called Money$uit 31, Classic 31 is the brainchild of games developer Brent Weiss.

On its face, 31 Classic looks a little complicated, but it’s really not. Within a few hands, anyone can play like a veteran.

The game is dealt from a single 52-card deck, and each player has four cards to make a three-card hand totaling as close to 31 as possible while counting only cards of the same suit. Card values are the same as in blackjack except that Aces always count as 11.

At the beginning of play, you ante and have the option of making a Natural 31 Bonus bet. You then receive a three-card hand and a fourth card as a draw, all face down.

After you look at the three-card hand, you may stay in the hand with a play bet equal to your ante. Otherwise, you fold and lose your ante, though your cards remain on the table if you have made the bonus bet.

Once the dealer has collected antes from those who folded, he turns your three-card hand face up and settles the Natural 31 bet. It pays even money if your had includes suited cards that total 16 through 21, 5-1 for 22 through 25, 10-1 for 26-28, 15-1 for 29 or 30, 30-1 for three of a kind regardless of suit, 100-1 for suited 31 and 200-1 for a mini-royal consisting of Ace-King-Queen of the same suit.

Finally, the dealer turns the draw card face up to make the best three-card hand out of the four cards. Again, with the exception of three of a kind, only cards of the same suit are counted.

If you have three suited cards that total 17, you push on both your ante and play bets. If you have a higher total, you’re paid even money on your ante, while your play bet is paid even money for 18-23, 2-1 for 24-27, 3-1 for 28-29, 4-1 for 30, 6-1 for three of a kind, 10-1 for 31 or 20-1 for a mini-royal.

The need for all winners except for trips to be in the same suit is important to both payoffs and strategy. If you have Ace of spades, King of hearts, Queen of diamonds and a 10 of clubs, your best hand is 11 – the Ace by itself. The other cards do not match it in suit, so they add no points to the hand.

A game demo at includes a basic strategy chart. Make the play bet if your first three cards include a winning hand; two suited cards totaling 15 or higher; three unsuited cards with each being 7 or higher; at least two cards of different suits with each being 9 or higher; pairs of 7s or better; or pairs of 6s provided the unpaired card is a 10 or higher.

Following that strategy, you’ll make the play bet 69.68 percent of the time, leading to a house edge of 2.59 percent of the ante or 1.52 percent of total action. That stacks up well to the 3.37/2.01 on Three Card Poker and the 4.91/1.37 in Mississippi Stud.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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