Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Three-Card Draw Poker video poker is like normal video poker but you only get three cards in your hand. Read how to play Three-Card Draw Poker video poker.

Three-Card Draw Poker video poker takes the standard form of video poker and simplifies it even further. Instead of playing with five cards, you get only three cards to make your finest hands. It requires you to learn a different strategy but makes for an interesting variation on tried-and-true video poker.

If you look hard enough, you’ll find a multitude of different video poker games. Many take the form of Jacks or Better. You’ll see that most video poker games stick to the main rhythm of deal, discard, and draw that typifies Jacks or Better.

Three Card Poker Cards

Occasionally, you’ll see games that toy with the structure of the pay table to give video poker a different twist. But most of these games stick to a five-card format. Three-Card Draw Poker video poker throws a little bit of a curve ball.

You’ll be playing with hands comprised of just three cards. The pay tables are adjusted, and you’ll need to look for different combinations of winners on a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker pay table. You’ll need to become familiar with the winning hands available in Three-Card Draw Poker video poker. And you’ll have to learn how much each of those hands pays, depending on which pay table you choose.

Still, regular video poker players will recognize the basic format truncated to three cards. But there are other areas where Three-Card Draw Poker video poker sets itself apart. The game uses four decks of cards instead of one. With four decks, you can get two or more identical cards in your hands.

As a matter of fact, the best hand you can achieve in Three-Card Draw Poker video poker is one with three aces of spades. In most variants of video poker, the ultimate goal is the royal flush.

Serious video poker players might not care as much about the novelty of Three-Card Draw Poker video poker. They’ll instead be more concerned with how much they can expect in payback. The top payback for Three-Card Draw Poker lags behind what some of the most lucrative video poker games pay.

But there are chances of big payoffs on a single hand. Three-Card Draw Poker video poker could prove to be the ideal diversion. In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Three-Card Draw Poker video poker. We’ll explain how to play basic hands and take a look at how multiple hand action works. We’ll also talk about strategy and what kind of payback you can expect.

Learning and Loving Video Poker

If you’ve never experienced any form of video poker before, you’re actually starting with an odd twist on the game if Three-Card Draw Poker video poker is the first thing you play. Most video poker games are based on a five-card format.

But, overall, the benefits you get from Three-Card Draw Poker video poker are pretty much the same. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a casino game that’s more beneficial to gamblers.

There are many elements of video poker that are similar to both slot machines and table games. But it only borrows the best parts of those games. For the most part, it leaves out the bad stuff.

Let’s take a look at all of the advantages that video poker provides for gamblers.

  • You can play it all by yourself. If you’ve ever been to a casino and tried to play a table game for the first time, you know it can be intimidating if you don’t know the etiquette. With video poker, you determine the pace of play.
  • You can find many different styles of play. Obviously, Three-Card Draw Poker video poker represents a pretty drastic spin on the normal video poker format. But the variety also extends to pay tables and volatility levels, making video poker the perfect customizable game.
  • You can use some strategy to help you win. That’s not the case with slot machines, where you’re pretty much at the mercy of luck. With video poker, the better decisions you make, the higher chance you’ll have of winning.
  • You don’t have to guess at your chances of winning. Video poker is based on probabilities, which will tell you which cards you should play and how often you can expect winning hands. It will even tell you what your expected payback should be.
  • You can expect competitive payback from video poker. On average, payback for video poker easily outdoes slot machines. The payback level for video poker is similar to table games.
  • You can play the game online pretty easily. Video poker translates so well to gameplay on top online gambling websites, so you’ll find most of the top variations of the game online. And you won’t notice any difference in gameplay from what it’s like in the casino.

All of that awaits you in the world of video poker. But first, you have to learn how to play.

Normally, we would tell you about the basic five-card format before going on the describe a specific video poker variation. But there’s no point in doing that with Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, since only three cards will be used in each hand.

Instead, we’ll get right into the way this game works in step-by-step fashion.

Playing Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Step 1: Creating a Bankroll

When you play video poker for real money, you have to put real money at stake. To do that, you have to create a bankroll. That’s just a fancy of way of labelling the money you’ll be using to bet and where any winnings will accumulate.

To create a bankroll, just insert a sum of money into a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machine. If you can find this game online, you can start up your bankroll by signing up for an account at a gambling website. You would then have to fund the account.

Once you’ve inserted your money, you’ll notice that it will be rendered in terms of units known as credits or coins. Each credit or coin is equal to whatever denomination of machine you’ve chosen to play. Denominations can run from a nickel to higher totals like 50 cents or a dollar.

For example, if you’re playing at a five-cent machine and win 12 credits on a specific hand. You’ll earn 60 cents (12 times .05).

Step 2: Making a Bet

When you play Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, you’ll have the chance to bet between one and five credits per hand. This makes it similar to most five-card video poker games. And, just as with the five-card games, the smart move is to bet five credits every single hand.

You don’t have to, of course. If you wanted, you could switch your bet every single hand. But betting five coins per hand gives you the best chance to maximize your winnings.

This is because of the highest-paying hand in the game. In Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, that hand is three aces of spades. In five-card video poker, it’s the royal flush.

When you achieve three aces of spades in Three-Card Draw Poker video poker and bet between one and four credits, you’ll be paid 250 credits for each one you bet. If you make that same hand on a five-credit bet, you’ll earn 800 credits. That’s a significant difference.

If you find that betting five credits per hand is too expensive (especially if you are playing Three-Card Draw Poker video poker multiple hands at a time), you can always try to find a lower denomination. That’s a preferable alternative to short-changing yourself by making less than the maximum wager.

Step 3: Playing a Hand

Think of video poker as a replica of the table game Five-Card Draw. And think of Three-Card Draw Poker video poker as a replica of that using only three cards. The rhythm of play is the same, but you’ll be dealing with three-card hands.

You will be attempting with these three cards to form a combination that a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker pay table deems a winner. There are a couple different pay tables from which to choose, but you’ll be trying to make these hands in any case:

  • Three aces of spades
  • Three aces of same suit
  • Three of a kind of the same suit
  • Mini-royal flush (queen, king, and ace of same suit)
  • Three aces
  • Straight flush (three cards of consecutive rank and same suit)
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (three cards of consecutive rank)
  • Pair of same suit
  • Flush (three cards of same suit)
  • Pair of sevens or better

In this list, the hands at the bottom will be the easiest to achieve. As you move up the list, you’ll find it harder and harder to attain these hands during Three-Card Draw Poker video poker gameplay. As a result, the hands higher up the list pay more than the ones at the bottom.

Essentially, you’ll have two chances to make one of these winning hands—the deal and the draw. On the deal, you’ll receive three cards. And here’s where Three-Card Draw Poker video poker starts to separate itself from the five-card version.

In just about all of the five-card versions of video poker, a simulation of a single standard deck of 52 cards is in play. That means there’s one ace of spades involved, one queen of hearts, and so on.

But Three-Card Draw Poker video poker uses four different standard decks at once. That means you could conceivably have two of the same card on the deal. And it also means that, if you have, for example, a three of diamonds in your hand after the deal, you can receive another one on the draw.

Assess the three cards that you receive for similarities to the winning combinations listed above. Occasionally, you’ll get a three-card deal that’s a winner and you won’t want to change.

For example, if you receive three of a kind on the deal, you won’t want to mess with it. You won’t need the draw. Instead, you’d just hold all three cards and collect your winnings.

But most deals during Three-Card Draw Poker video poker won’t have a winning combination within it. There might, however, be some cards that are useful enough to carry into the draw.

On the draw, you get to replace the cards you don’t want to hold with others from the four decks in pay. The fact that there are so many cards in play makes it a little harder to determine probabilities. But the same concepts will be in play as you could expect in five-card video poker.

You have to weigh your chances of getting a winning hand on the draw with how much that winning hand pays. Let’s take a look at an example deal to illustrate:

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Ace of Spades

Looking at this three-card deal, there are no combinations that will pay you back as is. But you still have the draw, so you still have a chance to win.

The main thing about this hand is the combination of the four and five of hearts. That gives you two of the three cards you need for a straight flush. Since a straight flush is a relatively high-paying hand, it’s a tempting play.

Even if you don’t achieve the straight flush on the draw, you could draw another heart. That would give you a flush, which, while a low-paying hand, still returns you something. Or you could draw a three or a six of a different suit than hearts, which would give you a straight.

But you might also be tempted to keep only the ace of spades. If you did, you keep in play the possibility of drawing two more aces of spades. That would give you the highest-paying hand of all.

And, if you keep only the ace, you could get lucky in many other ways on the draw. When keeping just a single card in five-card video poker, you really need a draw to break just right to make a big hand out of it. But in Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, you only need two cards to go your way in such a situation instead of four.

In any case, once you make your choice, you’ll press the buttons corresponding to the cards you want to hold. Keep in mind that you don’t have to hold any of your cards. You can discard all three if you wish.

Once you make your decision, press the “draw” button. Any discarded cards will be replaced and your hand will be complete. Whatever winnings you amass will be added to your bankroll.

That’s how a basic hand of Three-Card Draw Poker video poker works. You can keep playing like this as long as you have money still in your bankroll to bet. Just keep repeating the steps.

If your bankroll expires, you’ll have to replenish it to keep playing. You can also cash out your bankroll at any time during game play.

Most Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machines actually require you to play multiple hands at once. Take a look at how that works.

Multiple Hand Play

The first thing you have to realize about playing multiple hands at once is that you must make a bet for each of those hands. Most Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machines let you choose between three, five, and 10 hands at once.

Let’s take a look at what that would cost if you were making the max bet of five coins:

  • Three Hands = 15 coins
  • Five Hands = 25 coins
  • 10 Hands = 50 coins

The other key thing that you have to understand about multiple hand play is that it involves only a single deal. Whatever decisions you make on that deal will be played out in all of the hands you’ve bet.

For example, let’s go back to our sample hand from above, only this time, let’s assume it’s a basis for a three-play round of Three-Card Draw Poker video poker:

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Ace of Spades

Let’s imagine you decided to keep the four and five of hearts. That specific ace of spades is out of play, but you’ll still have the others from the four decks which could come to you on the draw.

Basically, the Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machine software will replicate those four decks, minus three cards from the deal. That leaves you 205 cards (4 times 52 minus 3) which might appear on the three draws.

Let’s see how that can play out:

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Six of Clubs

Hand One

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Nine of Hearts

Hand Two

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds

Hand Three

In the first hand, you managed a straight. Hand Two provided you with a flush. Alas, you came up empty in Hand 3.

You would then add up the winnings from Hands One and Two to see what your winnings will be. Subtract the 15 coins bet (if you did go for the maximum bet for all three hands) to see your profit.

As you might be able to tell, playing Three-Card Draw Poker video poker multiple hands at a time can really benefit you when you get a good deal. Should you get a so-so deal, you run the risk of losing more at once. You’ll have to decide if you want to make that kind of tradeoff.

Pay Tables for Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Even though Three-Card Draw Poker video poker plays differently than most other video poker games, the importance of the pay table remains unchanged. You should really be aware of the pay table so that you can base your strategy upon it.

In the case of Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, you’ll have two different families of pay tables from which to choose. You can choose between Sevens or Better or Bonus Poker.

Sevens or Better is basically the equivalent of a Jacks or Better pay table in the five-card game. Payout amounts move up pretty gradually from one hand to the next. Such a pay table makes it easier to sustain a long session on a small bankroll.

Bonus Poker pay tables in Three-Card Draw Poker video poker act in much the same way as they do in five-card games. You’ll see more of the payback concentrated in rare hands in Bonus Poker. That gives you more chances for big payouts, but will also hurt your chances of long sustained play on a small bankroll.

This is the full-pay, or highest-paying, version of Sevens of Better that you’ll find on a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machine:

Sevens or Better

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 80 160 240 320 400
Three aces 25 50 75 100 125
Straight flush 12 24 36 48 60
Three of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5

Here are some other Sevens or Better pay tables you might encounter. Notice that there are discounted payouts for certain hands compared to the full-pay version.

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 80 160 240 320 400
Three aces 25 50 75 100 125
Straight flush 12 24 36 48 60
Three of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5
Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 80 160 240 320 400
Three aces 25 50 75 100 125
Straight flush 10 20 30 40 50
Three of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5

Now, let’s look at the full-pay version of Bonus Poker that comes as a part of some Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machines.

Bonus Poker

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 400 800 1200 1600 2000
Three of a kind suited (two through four) 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited (five through king) 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 50 100 150 200 250
Three aces 20 40 60 80 100
Straight flush 12 24 36 48 60
Three of a kind 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5

The big difference between this and the Sevens or Better pay table is the higher payout for three suited aces. You’ll also see a boost in the payout for suited three of a kind hands achieved with twos, threes, and fours.

The flipside is that the Bonus Poker pay table pays out less for three aces. It’s a difference that will balance out some of the advantages that the Bonus Poker pay table enjoys.

Here are a couple of other Bonus Poker pay tables that you might be able to find on a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker machine.

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 400 800 1200 1600 2000
Three of a kind suited (two through four) 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited (five through king) 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 50 100 150 200 250
Three aces 20 40 60 80 100
Straight flush 12 24 36 48 60
Three of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5
Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Three aces of spades 250 500 750 1000 4000
Three suited aces 400 800 1200 1600 2000
Three of a kind suited (two through four) 160 320 480 640 800
Three of a kind suited (five through king) 80 160 240 320 400
Mini royal flush 50 100 150 200 250
Three aces 20 40 60 80 100
Straight flush 12 24 36 48 60
Three of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Pair of same suit 2 4 6 8< 10
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of sevens or better 1 2 3 4 5

Payback Percentages for Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Consider payback percentages to be the bottom line of video poker. These figures tell you exactly how much you can expect to make, on average, based on a specific video poker game and pay table.

Payback percentage is based on the probabilities of winning hands and how much those hands pay. It’s also based on the notion of perfect play, meaning the gambler makes the right decisions every single hand. We’ll talk about that more when we get to strategy.

With the payback percentage, you can essentially judge one game against another. But you have to realize the percentage will not necessarily reflect your results playing Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, or any other game, for that matter.

Think about it. When you play Three-Card Draw Poker video poker for only a short amount of time, your payback percentage will be skewed by the small sample size. You might win five hands in a row, or lose 20 straight.

As you play the game more and more, your payback percentage will start to resemble what the math says it should be. Luck will even out and probabilities will start to take hold.

As such, you should be paying attention to payback percentage if you’re a regular video poker player. You’ll want machines that pay the most so you could conceivably make a profit over time.

But what if you only want to play Three-Card Draw Poker video poker every once in a while for only a short time? If that’s the case, you shouldn’t worry about the payback percentage.

Three-Card Draw Poker video poker brings back a payback percentage of 97.9% for full-pay Sevens or Better and 97.2% for full-pay Bonus Poker. How does that stack up?

Ideally, regular players should be shooting for games with a payback percentage of at least 99%. That would mean losses of less than 1%.

When the losses are minimized like that, you can compensate for them with rewards earned from casino or online rewards. You could actually hope to win money at the game long-term in cases like that.

Three-Card Draw Poker video poker falls below that threshold. In other words, you would have a hard time making a long-term profit because the house edge is a little too large.

But casual players could easily profit with a little luck and some good decisions. And some gamblers might like a little bit of a change from five-card play now and then. You’ll have to decide how you feel about these advantages and disadvantages before deciding to play Three-Card Draw Poker video poker.

Strategy for Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

The Word Strategy Surrounded by Playing Cards

As we said in the above section, perfect play is necessary to maximize your payback percentage when playing Three-Card Draw Poker video poker. But achieving perfect play requires time and patience, especially with this unique game.

You might think you can figure out the right decisions about what to hold and discard on the fly. In actuality, the probability math is extremely involved. To do it right would take time, and you should ideally be playing video poker hands at a pretty solid pace to give yourself more chances to win.

Making the wrong decisions will also cost you. You might get away with making an incorrect choice now and again. But playing Three-Card Draw Poker video poker incorrectly will lower your expected payback percentage.

To learn all of the right plays for Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, you should really look to get some help. Many sources online will have the math already done for you and will report the results as what’s known as a strategy chart.

How do strategy charts work? Well, they rank all of the possible combinations of cards you might receive on the deal. These rankings are based on the expected value of these cards going into the draw.

Let’s turn back one more time to our sample hand to see how this works. Once again, the three cards you received were:

Four of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Ace of Spades

When you look at a strategy chart for Three-Card Draw Poker video poker, you’ll see various combinations. The top of the list represents the deals that are the most beneficial. As you move down, you’ll eventually reach the bottom, after which any cards you receive should all be discarded.

You might see on a Three-Card Draw Poker video poker something like:

  • Two suited cards of consecutive rank

And then a little lower:

  • Ace of Spades

This is letting you know the right mathematical play is to hold the four and five of hearts, since they’re two suited cards of consecutive rank. If you were to play the ace of spades, you would be lowering your winning expectations.

The ideal way to use a strategy chart for Three-Card Draw Poker video poker is to memorize it. If you try to carry it into a casino, you might make management a bit unhappy. And you’ll slow down your play by consulting it every hand, even if you could get away with using it.

Memorizing a strategy chart is no easy task. But if you take the time to do it right, you can ensure yourself perfect play. And the financial benefit from perfect play will make the time spent memorizing worthwhile.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Advantages of Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

  • Different way of looking at video poker
  • Some nice payback for individual hands, especially on the Bonus pay tables
  • Better chance of winning after a poor deal than if you were playing five cards

Disadvantages of Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

  • Might be tough to learn strategy
  • The payback percentages aren’t especially competitive
  • Seasoned video poker players might have a hard time adjusting to less cards

Conclusion on Three-Card Draw Poker Video Poker

Three-Card Draw Poker video poker gives you less to look at and more to think about when you sit down at the machine. It might not be the most lucrative game that you’ll ever see. But it’s unique enough to provide some enjoyment if you’re tired of five-card video poker variations.