3 Card Poker

Three Card Poker


Three Card Poker or 3-card Poker is a card game that is easy to learn and play. Each player competes against the dealer, aiming to have the best possible three-card hand. The game involves simple rules and quick rounds and is a popular choice for both beginners and experienced players seeking a fun time at the table.

In this article, we are going to talk about everything related to 3-card Poker including its objective to the game’s history, rules, hand rankings, strategy tips and tricks, 3-card poker payouts, how to play the game, and the odds of winning at Three Card Poker. 


The objective is to make a better 3-card hand than the dealer. Each player competes individually against the dealer, instead of competing against the other players, which simplifies the game. The players aim to make the strongest hand possible with their three cards. It is all about beating the dealer's hand to walk away with a win. The simplicity of the objective, combined with the fast-paced nature of the game, makes 3 Card Poker appealing to both beginner and experienced players. 


3 Card Poker emerged in 1994, invented by Derek Webb. He wanted to design a game that combined the excitement of traditional poker with a faster-paced engaging experience for players with simpler rules. Webb introduced the game to casinos in the United Kingdom initially, but it gained popularity quickly in other parts of the world due to its simplicity and exciting gameplay. Since then, 3 Card Poker has become popular in casinos worldwide, offering players engaging and thrilling card game options.

What is 3 Card Poker

3-Card Poker is also referred to as “Tri Card Poker” or “Casino Brag”. It is a popular casino game played between the player and the dealer with a 52-card deck. It is different from traditional poker as the players in 3-card poker compete against the dealer instead of competing against each other as it happens in traditional poker. It is a fast-paced and easy-to-play game that gained popularity worldwide. The players target to beat the dealer with their best possible 3-card hand to win. It is a game where strategy and luck play an important role. 

How to Play 3-Card Poker?

3-card poker is a fast-paced casino game that is easy to learn and play. Here are the basic steps to play the game:

  • Place your bets: 

The players begin the game by putting down their first bet, known as the "ante." Once they see their hand, they can choose to either fold and lose their ante, or place another bet called the "play" bet to compete against the dealer. If the player's hand is stronger than the dealer's, they win both bets; otherwise, they lose. 

  • Receive your cards: 

Both the player and dealer are dealt three cards face down. The dealer hands the cards face down to the player and themselves. 

  • Play or fold: 

After looking at their cards, each player must decide whether to play or fold. If a player folds, they confiscate their ante bet. If a player chooses to play, they must make a "play" bet equal to their ante bet to challenge the dealer’s hand.

  • The dealer reveals their cards: 

The dealer reveals their three cards to show their hand by turning them face up once all the players have decided to play or fold. Finally, both the player's and the dealer's hands are compared to determine who has the strongest hand and who wins the round.

  • Determine the winner:

If the dealer does not have a queen or higher card, the dealer does not qualify, and all the players who are still part of the game win money on their ante bets, and their play bets push (are returned to them). If the dealer qualifies, the dealer's hand is compared to each player's hand. The player with the highest hand wins money on both their ante and play bets. If the dealer's hand is higher, the player loses both including their ante and play bets.

  • Optional Pair Plus bet: 

The "Pair Plus" bet is an optional side bet that players can make alongside their main bet. It is all about predicting whether their initial bet will be a pair or better. If the player's hand meets the requirements for the pair plus bet, they win regardless of whether they beat the dealer's hand or not. It is a separate bet from the main game and offers a chance to win extra money.

  • Bonus payouts: 

Some casinos offer bonus payouts for certain hands, such as a straight flush or three-of-a-kind.

Remember that these are just the basic steps to play 3-card poker. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific rules of the casino where you are playing, as they may vary slightly.

3 Card Poker Rules

The 3 Card game rules are easy to follow, but players need to be consistent to learn: 

  • The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards.
  • The player makes an initial bet, called ante before the cards are dealt.
  • The player and the dealer each are dealt with three cards.
  • The dealer's cards are dealt face down, while the player's cards are dealt face up.
  • Based on the strength of the player's hand, they can either fold and forfeit their ante, or they can make a play bet, which is equal to the ante.
  • If the player makes a play bet, the dealer reveals their cards.
  • To qualify, the dealer must have a hand that is Queen high or better.
  • If the dealer does not qualify, the player wins even money on their ante bet, and their play bet is returned.
  • If the dealer qualifies and has a better hand than the player, the player loses both their ante and play bets.
  • If the dealer qualifies and the player has a better hand, the player wins money on both their Ante and Play bets.
  • If the dealer qualifies and the player and the dealer have the same hand, it is a push, and the player's bets are returned.

In addition to the “ante” and “play bets”, there is also a “pair plus” side bet that can be made before the cards are dealt. The pair plus bet pays out based on the strength of the player's hand, regardless of whether they win or lose the main game.

3 Card Poker Hand Rankings

The best hand combinations in 3 card poker hands are as follows:

  • Straight Flush

In 3-card poker, the best possible hand combination is a straight flush, which consists of three cards of the same suit in sequence. The highest possible straight flush is A-K-Q of the same suit.

  • Three of a kind

The next best hand is a three-of-a-kind, which consists of three cards of the same rank. The highest possible three-of-a-kind is three aces.

  • Straight

After that, the next best hand is straight, which consists of three cards in sequence, but not of the same suit. The highest possible straight is A-K-Q.

  • Flush

The fourth best hand is a flush, which consists of three cards of the same suit, but not in sequence. For example, Q-6-9 of clubs. 

  • Pair

The fifth best hand is a pair, which consists of two cards of the same rank, with the third card being of a different rank. For example, a pair of 5 with a third card of 8 of any suit.


  • High Card

If a player does not have any of the above hand combinations, the highest card in their hand determines their ranking. A-K-10 is a high card.

Odds of winning at 3-Card Poker

The odds of winning at 3-card poker depend on the specific hand that players are dealt and the payout structure of the particular game they are playing.

In general, the odds of getting a pair or better on their three cards are about 25%. The odds of getting a flush or better are around 5%. The odds of getting a straight or better are around 3.25%.

It is important to remember that the specific payout structure of the game will have a big impact on the overall odds of winning. In some versions of 3-card poker, the payouts for certain hands may be higher or lower than in other versions.

Overall, the house edge for 3-card poker is typically around 3-4%, which means that the casino will win in the long run. However, individual players can certainly have short-term success and win the game.

3 Card Poker Tips & Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for playing 3-card poker:

  • Understand the basic strategy: 

The best strategy for 3-card poker is to make the play bet if you have Q-6-4 or better and to fold if you have lower than that.

  • Avoid the Pair Plus bet:

While the “pair plus bet” can offer a big payout, the odds of winning are much lower. It is generally better to focus on the “ante” and “play bets”.

  • Manage your bankroll: 

Set a budget, bet within your means, and know when to stop. Stick to your limits to avoid overspending and make smart decisions to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing financial risk.

  • Take advantage of bonuses and promotions: 

Some casinos offer bonuses or promotions for 3-card poker players. Look for opportunities to increase your winnings.

  • Practice for free: 

Many online casinos offer free versions of 3-card poker. The players must use them to practice and develop their skills before playing for real money.

  • Watch for patterns:

Pay attention to the cards dealt with and the outcomes of previous hands for any patterns. Look for trends like consecutive wins or losses, high or low card combinations, and the dealer's hand strength. Remember that 3-card poker is primarily based on chance, so patterns may not always be reliable indicators of future outcomes.

  • Don't let emotions drive your decisions:

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game, but it is crucial to make rational decisions based on the cards, that players are dealt and the odds of winning.

3 Card Poker Payouts

Pair plus payouts:

Pair Plus is a side bet where players bet to determine whether their hand will have a pair or better to win according to the payout table. The payouts may vary depending on players' hand strength, like a pair, flush, or straight. It is a separate bet from the main game where players are just betting on the strength of their hand without competing against the dealer. It is a bonus bet on top of the regular game.

Ante bonus payouts:

Ante bonus is a bonus payout that players can win if their hand is good. If the player's hand has a strong hand like a straight or better, they win the Ante bonus, regardless of whether they beat the dealer. It is like bonus money on top of any other winnings players might get.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 3 Card Poker all luck?

Luck is important but strategy plays a bigger role in the game's result. Making smart and strategic decisions about when to play or fold based on their hand and the dealer's card can enhance the players' odds of winning.

What is the best strategy for 3 Card Poker?

The best strategy incorporates playing with a Queen, a 6, and a 4 or higher, and folding anything less. The players must raise their bet if they have a strong hand, like a straight or better. It helps maximize players' chances of winning by making calculated decisions about when to play and fold.

How is 3 Card Poker played?

Each player and the dealer receive three cards. Players decide whether to play or fold based on the strength of their hands. To play, they must place a bet equal to the ante. After all decisions are made, the dealer reveals their hand. If the player's hand beats the dealer's, they win.

What is the best three-card hand?

The best three-card hand is a straight flush, which is three consecutive cards of the same suit.


Three Card Poker is a lively game where players aim to outshine the dealer with their best three hands. The game’s simplicity makes it a favorite among players of all levels. From its invention in 1994 to its global popularity today, 3 Card Poker offers fast-paced fun at the table. Whether you are chasing for a straight flush or a pair, 3 Card Poker offers a mix of strategy and luck that keeps players coming back for more. 

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