How To Play 3 Card Poker

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Mastering 3 Card Poker: Rules, Strategy, and Payouts

What Is 3 Card Poker?

3 Card Poker is a straightforward poker variant where players are dealt just three cards and compete against the house. Its simplicity makes it an excellent choice for beginners.

How To Play 3 Card Poker

Upon taking a seat at a 3 Card Poker table, either online or at a land-based casino, you'll be asked to place your initial bet. The Ante bet box awaits your chips, allowing you to bet within the specified table limits.

Once you and other players have placed your Ante bets, the dealer deals three cards to each player, including themselves. Unlike traditional poker, you won't draw or discard cards in 3 Card Poker.

Your decision is limited to keeping your cards by placing a Play bet or folding your hand. Generally, it's wise to continue with most hands in 3 Card Poker, a strategy we'll discuss later.

If you decide to place a Play bet, it must match your Ante bet, effectively doubling your total wager. Be prepared to commit the full amount at the beginning of each hand, as this is the only path to a showdown.

Once all bets are in, and players who wish to fold have discarded their cards, the hand proceeds to showdown. The dealer reveals their cards, and players' hands are compared to the dealer's.

3 Card Poker Rules

In 3 Card Poker, you have only two choices after receiving your cards: Play or Fold.

  • Folding means forfeiting your cards and Ante bet, regardless of the dealer's hand.

  • Placing the Play bet keeps you in the hand, with your cards compared to the dealer's at the end.

3 Card Poker lacks drawing or discarding; you work with the three cards you receive.

The hand rankings in 3 Card Poker are simplified:

  1. Royal Flush

  2. Straight Flush

  3. Three of a Kind

  4. Straight

  5. Flush

  6. One Pair

  7. High Card

While real straights and flushes aren't possible with just three cards, three consecutive cards form a straight, and three cards of the same suit make a flush.

3 Card Poker Payouts

Basic payouts in 3 Card Poker involve beating the dealer's hand:

  • A winning hand against the dealer pays 1:1 on the Ante bet.

  • The Play bet pays 1:1 only if the dealer holds at least a Queen high hand; otherwise, the Play bet is returned.

Additionally, the Ante Bonus offers extra payouts for hands of three of a kind or better:

  • Straight: 1:1

  • Three of a Kind: 4:1

  • Straight Flush: 5:1

Note that these payouts reflect the simplicity of forming hands like three of a kind in 3 Card Poker.

An optional bet in 3 Card Poker is the Pair Plus bet, placed alongside the Ante bet. You'll receive payouts on this bet 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

However, you lose your Pair Plus bet if you don't make at least one pair, even if you win the hand with a high card.

Odds of Winning

3 Card Poker offers the house a significant advantage, especially on Ante and Play bets with a house edge of 3.37%, much higher than blackjack. The Pair Plus bet has a lower house edge of 2.32%, making it appealing.

Since you need at least a Queen high to win the Play bet, the dealer and player have an equal chance of forming a winning hand. However, the dealer's minimum requirement tilts the odds in the house's favor.

3 Card Poker Strategy

The simplicity of 3 Card Poker limits strategic options. Your primary decision is which cards to keep and which to discard. The recommended strategy is to keep any hand with at least Q 6 4.

While this may appear basic, it offers the best results in the game. There are no intricate plays to remember, and the Pair Plus bet is not a negative EV (Expected Value) bet, making it more attractive than other poker jackpot bets.

Where to Play 3 Card Poker Online

3 Card Poker is widely available due to its simplicity and popularity. Ensure you play at a regulated and secure operator, as found on our list of recommended poker sites. Have fun exploring this straightforward poker variant and challenge the house!