How To Play 3 Card Poker – 3 Card Poker Rules, Odds, Strategy & More


If you’re
looking to learn how to play 3 Card Poker or to play it more optimally, you’re
in the right place.

We’ll break
down what 3 Card Poker is, how to play, and why it’s one of the best casino
games to pick up.

What Is 3 Card Poker?

3 Card Poker is a simple poker variation where you only get dealt three cards in total and play against the house. It’s really easy to learn, so makes a great game for beginners.

How To Play 3 Card Poker

Once you
have taken your seat at a 3 Card Poker table, whether at an online or
land-based casino, you’ll be asked to make your first bet.

The Ante
bet box will be sitting empty in front of you, and you will be asked to place
some chips there. You’ll be able to place any bet within the table stakes,
between a minimum and maximum bet.

Once you’ve
placed your Ante and other players at the table have done the same, the dealer
will deal everyone three cards, including themselves.

The three
cards are the only ones you will be getting in 3 Card Poker, making it a very
simple variation of poker.

Once you
have your three cards, your only decision will be whether to keep them by
placing the Play bet or to discard them right away.

In truth,
you will want to keep going with most hands in 3 Card Poker, but more on this a
bit later in the strategy section.

If you do
decide to place a play bet, you will have to match your Ante bet in full, thus
doubling your total bet. You should be ready to bet the whole amount when
starting a hand, as this is the only way you will get to showdown.

Once all
the bets are placed, and players who don’t wish to proceed have discarded their
cards, the hand goes to showdown.

The dealer
turns over their cards, and every player’s hand is compared to the dealer’s.

hands are paid double money on their Ante bet, and double money on the Play bet
if the dealer has at least a Queen high hand.

3 Card Poker Rules

The rules
of 3 Card Poker couldn’t be simpler. You only have two options to choose from
after being dealt cards: Play and Fold.

You will
forfeit your cards and your Ante bet if you decide to fold. You won’t be able
to win the hand, even if the dealer has a very weak hand.

If you
decide to place the Play bet, you will stay in the hand until the very end,
when your cards will be compared to the dealer’s holdings.

Keep in
mind that there is no drawing or discarding in 3 Card Poker, and you will only
have the three cards you get dealt at your disposal, so make your decisions
based on these.

When it
comes to comparing hands in 3 Card Poker, it’s clear that some hands, such as
full houses and four of a kind, don’t exist in this variation of the game.

Hand rankings in 3 Card Poker are as follows:

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • One Pair
  • High Card

Of course, you
won’t be able to make real straights and flushes with just three cards, but
three cards in a row will count as a straight, three cards of the same suit
will count as a flush, etc.

This simple
hand ranking should be easy enough to understand for anyone who has ever played
poker, and at the end of the day, the dealer will tell you if you have won or
lost anyway.

With that
said, I have covered all the rules of the game you need to know about, so it’s
time to talk about payouts and special bets in 3 Card Poker.

3 Card Poker Payouts

The most
basic payouts in 3 Card Poker come from simply beating the dealer’s hand.

This is
done by having a better poker hand than the dealer at showdown, in which case
you will always win a 1:1 payout on the Ante bet.

The Play
bet only comes into play if the dealer has at least a Queen high in their hand.
If this happens, and you also have a winning hand, you’ll be paid at 1:1 on the
Play bet as well.

the Play bet will be returned to you.

In addition
to these payouts, the Ante Bonus will give you an additional payout if you win
the hand with at least three of a kind. The Ante Bonus payouts are as follows:

  • Straight: 1:1
  • Three of a Kind: 4:1
  • Straight Flush: 5:1

interesting to note that hand rankings in 3 Card Poker are quite different from
other forms of poker, simply because getting three cards of the same suit or
three consecutive cards is easier than getting three of a kind.

For that
reason, there is no payout for a flush on the Ante Bonus, and the straight
payout is significantly lower than the one for three of a kind.

One last
thing to keep an eye out on in 3 Card Poker is the Pair Plus bet, which is an
optional bet you can make on every hand.

The Pair
Plus bet is placed simultaneously with the Ante bet, and you can choose to bet
any value you want.

If the Pair
Plus bet is activated, you will receive the following payouts on your hand if
you hold one pair or better:

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

Keep in
mind that you will lose any money you place in the Pair Plus box every time you
don’t make at least one pair, even if you end up winning the hand against the
dealer with your high card.

What Are The Odds Of Winning?

Like most
casino poker games, 3 Card Poker gives the house quite a substantial edge.

On Ante and Play bets, the casino retains an advantage of 3.37 percent, which is significantly higher than a game like blackjack.

The Pair
Plus bet comes with a house advantage of 2.32 percent, which is lower than the
basic bets, making it an interesting prospect for anyone playing this game.

While the
dealer and the player have the same chance of making a winning hand, the fact
that your Play bet is not paid out unless the dealer has at least Queen high is
what gives the house the majority of their edge.

Here are
some interesting odds related to making certain big hands in 3 Card Poker,
which come in handy, especially if you enjoy playing the Pair Plus bet:

  • Odds to make a straight flush: 0.217
  • Odds to make three of a kind: 0.235
  • Odds to make a straight: 3.257
  • Odds to make a flush: 4.95 percent
  • Odds to make one pair: 16.94 percent
  • Odds to make Ace High or worse:
    76.38 percent

As you can
see, you’ll have a hand that does not contain any pair, straight or a flush,
the vast majority of the time.

3 Card Poker Strategy

Q 6 4 in 3-card poker

3 Card Poker is a very simple game which means there’s not
too much you can do in terms of strategy. In fact, your only concern should be
which cards to keep and which to discard.

Traditionally, the optimal strategy for the game is to keep
any hand that has at least a Q 6 4 in it while discarding everything weaker
than this.

This may not seem like much of a strategy, but this approach
will get you the best possible results in the game.

Apart from that, there are no special or fancy plays you
should remember, other than the fact that the Pair Plus bet is not a negative
EV one compared to the Ante bet, as jackpot bets often are in poker games.

Where To Play 3 Card Poker Online

The game of 3 Card Poker is quite a popular poker variation,
mostly because of its simple rules and strategy, so you should be able to find
it at most poker rooms.

Remember to always play at a regulated and secure operator, like the ones on our list of recommended poker sites.

Have fun playing this simple poker variation and see if you
can beat the house!

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