3 Card Poker
Three Card Poker is a simple and fun casino game that has proved to be very popular with players. Invented in 1994 by Briton David Webb, it's essentially a casino version of brag. It was, in fact, originally called Casino Brag. The primary difference between this game and traditional brag is that players go against the house rather than other players.
Not much exists in terms of strategy in Three Card Poker, because it's essentially a game of chance. That being said, you can optimize your return by knowing when to fold and when to play. This is touched on below where we also explain the complete rules of the game. For those interested in playing the game online, we list the best Three Card Poker casino sites.
Three Card Poker Rules
Three Card Poker has proved to be quite popular at both live and online casinos due to the simplicity of the game. It takes just a few minutes to learn the rules, which are really straightforward. You only have a couple of decisions to make during each hand, making Three Card Poker a fast-moving game.
Your first decision is how much to bet. Once you have chosen your stake, it's placed as your ante. You are dealt three cards (which you can look at), and the dealer is dealt three. They are all face down and you don't get to see them yet. Upon looking at your hand, you must then decide whether to play or fold.
If you fold, your ante is forfeited and the hand is over. If you wish to play, you must place an additional bet, known as the Play Bet, and it's equal to whatever ante was originally made. If you do decide to play, then your hand and the dealer's hands are both exposed. The dealer must have at least queen high to qualify.
If the dealer has lower than queen high, your Play Bet is returned and you win your ante bet at even money. If the dealer has queen high or better and wins, then you lose your ante and your Play Bet. If the dealer has queen high or better and you win, then you win your ante and your Play Bet at even money. In the event of a tie, both bets are returned to you.
The hand rankings in Three Card Poker are as follows, from the highest to the lowest.
- Straight Flush (three suited cards in sequence, e.g. 4, 5, 6 of clubs)
- Three of a Kind (three cards of the same rank, e.g. three kings)
- Straight (three unsuited cards in a sequence, e.g. 4 of hearts, 5 of spades, 6 of diamonds)
- Flush (three suited cards not in sequence, e.g. 8, jack, king of clubs)
- Pair (two cards of the same rank, e.g. two jacks)
- High Card (based on the highest ranked card in your hand)
If you make a straight or better, you'll also win an Ante Bonus. This is paid out regardless of whether you actually win the hand or not, and regardless of whether the dealer qualifies or not. The payout rate of the Ante Bonus will vary depending on where you are playing. Typically, it's 5:1 for a straight flush, 4:1 for three of a kind, and 1:1 for a straight.
There's a side bet option in Three Card Poker that can be placed before the hand starts. The result of this bet is based entirely on your cards; the dealer's cards have no relevance. It's automatically lost if you do not hold a pair or better. If you do have a pair, or better, the Pair Plus pays out according to the relevant pay table.
Again, pay out rates will vary depending on where you are playing. The following are fairly common however.
- Pair – Even Money
- Flush – 4:1
- Straight – 6:1
- Three of a Kind – 30:1
- Straight Flush – 40:1
As you can see, it's possible to get a high return on the Pair Plus bet if you make a good hand. Although the odds ultimately favor the house, the Pair Plus is a very popular bet with 3 card poker players.
As mentioned, there's not much in the way of strategy in Three Card Poker. It's really just about deciding when to play your hand and when to fold. To get the optimal return, you should play when you have queen, 6, 4, or better and fold with anything worse. Many prefer to play with any queen high or better, but this doesn't actually make a huge difference to the return in the long run.
Playing Three Card Poker Online
As a particularly popular game among casino players, you'll find Three Card Poker on offer at the vast majority of sites. We have compiled the following list of what we consider to be the best places to play online.
- Bovada Casino
- Winpalace Casino
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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