How to Play 3 card Poker Game

How did 3 Card Poker Game Started?

The game was invented by Derek Webb in 1994. Webb is a citizen of the United Kingdom and a professional poker player. Since this invention, the game has become one of the most successful trademarked table games across different casinos. The game was given its trial run in the home of all casino games, Las Vegas. Although, the first game got mixed results, it went ahead to break through as one of the popular favorite of players in the state of Mississippi, United States. Today, the game of 3 Card Poker has become a standard offer at both the online casinos and live casinos.


The game is quite simple and basic. The player competes against the dealer and both look out to see who has the best three card poker hand. If the player has the best hand, he beats the dealer and wins his bet or bets, as the case may be. He goes ahead to hit a premium hand such as a Straight or Flush and gets paid generously. Conversely, if the player loses to the dealer, he loses his bet or bets. It’s as simple as that. Well, before you rush off to start playing, you have to understand that there are rules of the game. It is important that you learn the rules before you start playing for real money. You will learn all about these rules in this blog post.


There are quite a number of reasons why this game has become the favorite of many. First, it is pretty easy to play. It also has a reasonable house edge, which gives players great potential to win. In other words, you have the opportunity to win against the house compared to other casino games. Also, there are two different ways to play the game and players have the opportunity to choose a wager that has frequent payoffs. In other words, you can have a wager that gives you the potential to win up to forty times of your bet. The game also allows you to enhance your outcomes through an easy and simple strategy that you can learn within a short period of time. In this poker blog, we will explore the basics strategies involved in playing the game of 3 Card Poker. At the end of reading this, you will be able to play the game without any issue.


What is needed to Play 3 Card Poker?

The game is played with one single deck of cards. This deck of cards is shuffled at every hand. Irrespective of whether you are playing at the online platform or at a live casino, this process of shuffling the cards is the same across board. In live casinos, the cards are automatically shuffled through the use of an automatic shuffling machine. The regular seven-player, blackjack sized tables are the standard in live casinos.


Technically, the layout of the table includes the following;

  • The 3 Card Poker logo
  • An icon, ‘Pair Plus’, which is the circular betting spot at the table
  • 3 card shaped spaces outlined at the front of the dealer. This is where he places his cards.
  • There is a diamond shaped betting spot that is marked ‘Ante’
  • There is another card shaped betting spot with ‘Play’ marked on it
  • There are also the pay tables, which is designed for the Pair Plus bet as well as for the ante bonus payoffs.
  • At the start of the game, there will be a brief explanation given on the rules of the 3 card poker game to bring every player to the same page of understanding.


Additionally, a part of the table that is next to the game dealer will enclose a placard that lets the player knows what the minimum and maximum bets are. For example, if the placard states that the minimum ante is $5, Minimum Pair Plus bet is $5, and Maximum is $100, it means that the player’s initial wagers would likely not be lower than $5 and not more than $100. In other words, the player’s wager has to be anything between $5 and $100.


The Ranking of Hands

The 3 Card Poker is similar to stud poker. However, the odds are quite different when the hands entail three cards. Due to the fact that the odds are not the same, the hand rankings are also a little different. In this game, Straights are usually very rare when compared to Flushes. In most cases, they outrank them. Meanwhile, in the game of five cards, Flushes usually outrank Straights. Technically, the ranking of hands that are obtainable in three card poker include straight flush; three of a kind; high card; straight; flush; and pair. It is important to mention that there is nothing like a full house in the game of 3 card poker. Additionally, you cannot get four of a kind in the game.


How to play 3 Card Poker Game?

The three card poker game uses the name ‘poker’ simply because it uses the regular hand ranking order in poker. However, the game is more of a casino game than a poker game in the real sense of the word. A player can adjust their bets somewhat to pursue different bonus or premium hands. Nonetheless, there is no poker strategy involved. For instance, the strategy of deciding on the cards to draw or keep, or making bets against the other players is not involved in the 3 card poker game. To play the game, a player only need to select between some bets before the actual deal, wait to see what the three cards they receive look like, and just hope that lady luck will smile on them.


It’s crucial to quickly add that there is an exception to the regular poker hand rankings that players must take note of. The fact that it is not easy to make a straight in three card poker when compared to flush makes the ranking order for flushes and straights to be a reverse case. This has been mentioned above but for emphasis sake, we’ll repeat the same in a clearer way. You have to understand that in a game of 3 card poker, a straight is highly valuable and more so than a flush. If not, there would be no alteration to the hand rankings with the exception of the elimination of specific hands requiring more than the three cards.


With this, it’s pretty basic as there are just six possible three card poker hands that a player can make. In the order of ranking, that is, from the highest to the lowest, you can make any of these – straight flush; three of a kind, straight, flush, pair, or high card.


How to Place Bets in 3 Card Poker Game?

As mentioned earlier, there are basic rules that apply to the game of 3 card poker. In this section, we will explore the details of how to play the game from the moment you take a seat at the table and the rules you have to follow all through. Let’s get right into it.


When you seat at a three card poker table, you have the opportunity to choose among a couple of bets options, depending on the specific table you choose. At most of the tables of 3 card poker, a player can choose to play Ante bet, Play bet, Pair Plus, or both Ante & Pair Plus bet.


Before you are given any cards, you will be required to make a decision on what to bet on. You have to decide whether you will place just the Ante bet, or both the Ante and the Pair Plus bet. Now, the Ante bet is a must for you in order to receive cards. The Pair Plus on the other hand is optional. Essentially, you have to bet whether you feel you’ll be dealt with a pair or higher in your three card poker hand.


As soon as everyone at the 3 card poker table has made the decision and place their bets, the dealer goes ahead to deal three cards face down for every player in that hand. After everyone has gotten their three cards, each player can look at their cards. After looking at your card, you are required to make a decision. You have to decide whether or not to go on and match up your hand against the deal to see which hand is higher.


If you decide to go on, you will go ahead to place a ‘Play’ bet. This is equal to ante bet. In summary, the order of the game play is as follow:

  • Place ante bet, or you may choose to place both Ante and Pair Plus bet.
  • Get your cards
  • Decide to fold, which means you lose all the bets you already made, or place the ‘Play’ bet, which means you have to match the ante.

In case you fold, you automatically lose your ante as well as your Pair Plus bet, that is if you made one. However, if you Play (which means you match the size of your ante), you will go ahead to compare your game hand to the hand of the dealer in order to see if you will get paid.


How to win a Hand of 3 Card Poker

To win an ante bet, your three card poker hand needs to be higher than that of the dealer. However, the dealer needs to hold a queen high or better in order to qualify. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the player will receive 1:1 on their ante. They also get their Play bet returned to them. In the case that the dealer qualifies and the player wins at the game, the player will receive 1:1 on the ante as well as the Play bet. Nevertheless, if the player loses and the dealer qualifies, the player will lose both their bets. Now, if the dealer qualifies and goes ahead to tie the player, the player will push, and both the bets will be returned. In addition to the comparison between the dealer and player payout, the player that is playing Ante and Play will receive the bonus payouts, irrespective of the hand of the dealer. This is done for strong hands. In other words, if there is a Straight Flush, the pay is 5:1; Three of a Kind pays 4:1; and Straight pays 1:1.


The Pair Plus Bet in 3 Card Poker

The Pair Plus is likely the easiest casino table game that any player can sit at. You don’t need to make any decision to play the card or win. It is all based on the turnout of the card. To play this hand, make your Pair Plus bet prior to the deal. It is important that the bet remains between the minimum and maximum bet amount at the table. After placing the bet, you will receive your cards. The hand of the dealer will be compared to yours and if you win, you get paid, and if you lose, you don’t get paid. It’s as basic and straightforward as that.


In the case that you hit a three card poker hand that is pair or higher, the scale of payout is highlighted as follows:

  • Straight Flush 40:1
  • Three of a Kind: 30:1
  • Straight: 6:1
  • Flush: 4:1
  • Pair: 1:1


In case you have no pair and just a high card, you will lose your Pair Plus bet. However, you can still go ahead to win your Ante bet, if you have a high card that is higher than the dealer’s. It is essential to remember that the dealer needs to have a minimum of a Queen before their hand can qualify. Also, a player can still lose out to the dealer and lose their Pay and Ante bets but hit their Pair Plus bet. In this scenario, they will get paid. Basically, you don’t need to win your play or ante bet in order to qualify for your Pair Plus payout.


The Golden Rule of 3 Card Poker

Due to the fact that the game of 3 Card Poker is very simple, a lot of players prefer to play every hand or ‘Blind’, irrespective of the type of card they are dealt. Although this can be quite exciting to remain in action at all times, there is definitely a consequence to it. When you play like this, you boost the house edge to around 7% all the way from the standard 3%. As a result of this big increase in the house advantage, if you play at every hand, you should stick to the general strategy rule – that is, the Q64 rule. Now, this rule is ideal for experienced 3 card poker players. If you are new in the game, you might want to drop the tendency to play every hand.


Now, what does the Q64 rule means? It means that you should only play the hands that have Queen, a Six, a Four, or higher. If you maintain this strategy, you maintain the house advantage as low as possible, leaving it between 2 to 3%, depending on the casino you are playing at. As mentioned earlier, you can play 3 card poker at both the online casino and at live casino. The rules are basically the same at both places.


When it comes to making the decision on whether to play the Ante, Play, and Pair Plus bets, or only one or two of them, your decision will be based on the level of action that you are look for as well as the amount of money you are willing to lose at the game. Basically, when you play the Ante and the Pair Plus bets at the same level, it gives you the best opportunity to achieve the maximum return at the end of the day. It’s important to mention that this will also have its share of some losing streaks, particularly if you are hoping to hit the Pair Plus bet. In this case, there are some odds of hitting Pair Plus.

These odds are highlighted below:

  • Pair – 16.94%
  • Flush – 4.9%
  • Straight – 3.26%
  • Three of a Kind – 0.24%
  • Straight Flush – 0.22%


This means that you have an average of 25% chance of hitting a pair or better. Now, the reverse case is that you will lose the bet about 75% of the time. To increase your chance of getting the best odds against the house, you should avoid playing the Pair Plus bet or the Six Card Bonus bet. The best way to curtail your loss and reduce it to the barest minimum is to play only the Ante bets and the Play bet when you have Q64 or higher.


What about the Six Card Bonus?

Let’s make this straight; you need to stay away from the Six Card bonus. No doubt, the Bonus bet usually looks very attractive. It entices you with its huge odds and the crazily huge payouts if you hit it. Unfortunately, the reality is that you almost never get to hit it. As a matter of fact, the long-shot odds of your hitting a large percentage of the bonus bets are just overly long to make them lucrative over the long haul. This is what you get with the Six Card Bonus bet on many of the 3 card poker tables. So, maintain your game and keep off the Six Card bonus


In summary, the Six card bonus is the payout that is based on a combination of your three-card poker hand and the dealer’s three card poker hand.  Combined, you have the best 5 card poker hand and you will get paid out based on this. It’s essential to note that this is dependent on the standard poker hand rankings. The payouts for the best 5 card poker hand are as follow:

  • Royal Flush – 1000:1
  • Straight Flush – 200:1
  • Four of a Kind – 100:1
  • Full House – 20:1
  • Flush – 15:1
  • Straight – 9:1
  • Three of a Kind – 8:1

It’s essential to point out that even though you might get a great rush when you hit the bonus once in a while, the casino edge is over 7% for this, which means that you cannot make money on the bonus over time. When you finally hit on one bonus hand, your bet will be paid out whether or not you win your ante or play bets.


Summary of the 3 Card Poker Game Procedures

As highlighted above, all the 3 Card Poker tables offer two different ways of playing the game – Ante and Pair Plus. There are some tables that also offer alternative side bets. You have the opportunity to choose whether to play Ante or Pair Plus, and you can also play both options. To play Ante, you have to start by placing your wager in the available triangular Ante space at the table. To Play Pair Plus on the other hand, you have to begin by placing the wager in the circular Pair Plus space. After this, the dealer goes ahead to deal each of the players, including himself with three cards, facing down. When all the cards have been dealt, all the players at the table can look over their cards.


If you are playing Pair Plus, you don’t have to do anything else. You don’t need to make any decision or place an additional wager. This is why this game is regarded as the easiest of all. However, if you are playing Ante, you have to decide on whether you have to play or fold. If you decide to play, you need to place a play bet that is equal to the ante. You can’t have a smaller or larger bet. It has to be equal to the Ante. If you place the bet or if you’re playing Pair Plus and there is a winner, you should place your cards face down, next to where you have your bet. In case you don’t make a play bet, and there is no Pair Plus winner, go ahead to place your card in front of your bets to indicate to the dealer that you are folding.


How to Settle Ante Wager?

After seeing your cards and you decide to fold, the dealer will take your ante and clear your cards. As soon as all the players have made up their mind about playing or folding, the dealer goes ahead to turn his own cards face up. In the instance that the hand of the dealer is Queen High or better, the dealer will play. The implication of this is that ante and play bets will all be in the action. To be able to win, your hand has to outrank the hand of the dealer. If you win the game, you will receive the money on both the ante and play wagers. In the case that you lose, the dealer will take both bets. If the hand of the dealer is Jack High or lower, they won’t have to play. In this case, your hand doesn’t have to win against the dealer. The payment for ante will be at even money. There are also no play bets in action and the players can keep them. In a situation where the hands are ties, the hand is regarded as a push. There will be no payouts made. However, the player will keep both the ante and the play bets.


Is there any Reputable Online Platform to play 3 Card Poker for Free?

Virtually all casinos, both online and live, offer 3 card poker game to their customers. If you are looking to play three card poker at the online platform, there are quite a good number of platforms to consider. Since you are playing for free, you can actually play at any casino site. By playing at more than one online casino, you can compare the offers on each of the platforms. Every casino online has a section for free play where players can try their hands on different games and learn the rules of the games for free. This is very important for new players. You should play the free versions of games first to understand the strategy and rules before you play for real money.



3 Card Poker game is simple and pretty straightforward. You can learn the strategy within a short period of time and you can begin to play for money as soon as you get the whole picture of the strategy of the game.