3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker Casinos
What You Need to Know
This 3 Card Poker guide was written with all types of players in mind. If you’re new or an experienced player, this page is for you. We’ll start with a section describing the 3 Card Poker rules, gameplay mechanics, terminology, and wagering options. Next, you’ll find a list of reputable online casinos which currently host 3 Card Poker tables for real money, along with major software providers which power one version of the game or another. To conclude, we guide you through the 3 Card Poker strategy you’ll need to know in order to play and win.
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The hybrid table game known as Three Card Poker was developed by Shuffle Master Inc. employee Derek Webb in 1994. Depending on the online casino you frequent, you might see the same game called Tri Card Poker, 3 Card Poker, 3 Card Brag, or Poker Three. The Bovada online casino popular in America uses Tri Card Poker while Australia’s Roxy Palace online casino prefers 3 Card Poker.
Aside from a few minor tweaks in the rules to avoid trademark infringement, all of these titles describe the same casino poker game.
The reasons behind online 3 Card Poker’s proliferation throughout the world of online casino gaming are clear. Webb managed to combine the basic elements of blackjack, such as the player versus dealer dynamic and a single base decision which governs the game, with the pure appeal of poker’s traditional hand ranking hierarchy. When you throw in a simple rules structure, and a bevy of additional bonus bets, with escalating payout tables along with them, 3 Card Poker provides an entertaining experience and the potential for significant scores.
While the online casino revolution has been kind to Three Card Poker, visitors to any land-based casino are probably familiar with the game, even if they don’t know it yet. Three Card Poker ranks among the most popular table games in any casino, and the usual tales of a green gambler hitting it big on their first trip to the tables usually involve this easy to learn and potentially lucrative game. It has become such a big hit that casinos now have a Live Dealer 3 Card Poker version of the game.
The 4 Best Online Casinos for Card Poker
This list provides you with several reputable online casinos currently operating worldwide and offering 3 Card Poker games for real money:
One of the best 3 card poker online casinos available today is Bovada. At Bovada, players will have access to two versions of the game as well as bonuses and promotions, plus a long list of slots and additional table games.
The first 3 card poker option at Bovada is traditional Tri Card Poker. With this game, players are seated at the poker table and have wagering options to the right, with cards dealt and displayed as they would be in real gameplay. Choose to wager $1, $5, $25, $100 then $500. With this game, the Ante Bonus Pay Table provides the following payouts: a straight flush pays 5 to 1 while a 3 of a kind pays 4 to 1 and a straight pays 1 to 1.
With the Pair Plus Pay Table, a separate betting option, players will earn the most with a straight flush or a 3 of a kind. With Pair Plus, players will earn 40 to 1 payouts for a straight flush while a 3 of a kind pays 30 to 1.
The second game is a more streamlined version of Tri Card Poker. There is no table setting like the above version. Players simply see their cards and the dealers, choosing to wager the same stake, $1, $5, $25, $100 and $500. The dealer will win if they have a queen high or better while the player will earn a win if the dealer holds less than a queen high. Players can choose to wager the Pair Plus in this game as well, a separate bet that will payout if the hand of the player is a pair or higher.
A top online casino we recommend for 3 Card Poker play is BetOnline. This operator provides 3 Card Poker with clear graphics and quality sound. Play for low, mid or high stakes, the choice is yours. Wagers start at just $1 and go as high as $250, providing betting options for every bankroll. Players will find the game is easy to play and offers newbies a great opportunity to try 3 Card Poker.
When playing the game, players will be seated at the felt with a clear view of the poker table. The Place your Bets section at the bottom of the screen allows you to choose your wager. You can easily see your credits to know how much you have left in your bankroll. Choose Fast Play mode when you want to play quickly and easily review the Payouts Chart to the right to see how much to expect with certain hands.
Another great option for 3 Card Poker play is Slots.lv. Open to US players, the online casino provides two types of 3 Card Poker games, both titled Tri Card Poker. With these games, players can wager from $1 to $500, providing quality betting options for recreational players and the high roller. The games offer excellent graphics and smooth gameplay, perfect for enjoying a few hands of 3 Card Poker. With so many more games on offer, promotions, etc., this 3 Card Poker online casino is a good choice for your gameplay needs.
For a more land-based casino-style experience, choose the Tri Card Poker game with the dark blue background. This game is set up like an actual card table at the casino. You sit at the bottom of the table with the Ante, Pair+ and Raise buttons in front of your cards. You choose your bet, $1, $5, $25, $100 or $500 and then the game starts. Fold, Raise and Deal buttons are at the bottom of the screen. This game provides a more lifelike experience than the other version and will probably be more enjoyable for bettors.
Las Vegas USA Casino
At Las Vegas USA Casino, players will find that 3 card poker is played under the Table Games tab. The game is known as Tri Card Poker here and the 3 card poker online casino provides a realistic experience when it comes to enjoying the game. Once the game is open, the player is seated at the bottom of the table. The cards are dealt to the player at the bottom of the screen while the dealer receives his cards at the top. The table is displayed as it would be in a live casino gaming experience making the game more appealing to many players.
Players can wager $1, $5, $25, $100 or $500 per hand and will find the Pair Plus bet, Ante and Raise buttons just under the playing cards. Choose to Fold, Raise or Rebet on each hand. Players can try the game for fun or choose to play for real money.
Major Software Providers
These are the major software providers currently spreading a version of 3 Card Poker within their platforms:
- Betsoft (Triple Edge Poker)
- RealTime Gaming
Five Steps on How to Play 3 Card Poker Online
Get Things Started with the Ante Bet
To begin your first hand of 3 Card Poker, you’ll typically place the ante bet. You can choose any betting increment your bankroll can bear of course, but for the sake of this discussion, we’ll be using a $5 ante bet.
In most table games the ante bet is considered mandatory, meaning you can’t play without putting an ante in the pot first. However, in 3 Card Poker, players can forego the ante bet altogether and simply bet on the side bet which will be described next. The odds of Three Card Poker mean you’ll face a much lower house edge, more on this can be found in the strategy section, so this walkthrough will assume that an ante bet has been placed.
Side Bet: Pair Plus
Once you’ve anted up, you’ll also notice another betting circle on the table which will be labeled Pair Plus. This is an optional side bet which entitles players to an escalating payout table should their hand amount to one pair or higher.
More information about the Pair Plus bet will be included later in the section, but in essence, this side bet carries with it a higher risk to reward ratio. You’ll lose money on the Pair Plus bet over the long run, but in the short term, this bet can add a bit of excitement to your Three Card Poker session. For the sake of this discussion, however, we’ll have a $1 wager made on the Pair Plus, simply to provide an explanation of the associated payouts.
Three Cards are Dealt
After you’ve placed your ante, along with the optional Pair Plus bet, the dealer will distribute three cards face up in your direction. The dealer also gets three cards, but their hand will remain face down. The objective of 3 Card Poker is simply to hold a better three card hand than the dealer. The traditional poker hand rankings are used, with three cards rather than five.
Time to Make Your Bet
After you’ve received your three card hand, the game’s crucial decision comes into play. Depending on the relative strength of your hand, you have the option to fold out and forfeit all bets in play, or to continue the hand by placing an additional Raise bet. The raise-bet, which may be labeled as Play in some online casinos, is always equal to the ante bet, and you can’t make the raise bet unless the ante bet is already in place.
If you elect to raise or play, you’ll put another $5 chip into the pot. The dealer will then expose their own three-card holding and compare the two hands to determine a winner. When the dealer’s hand outranks yours, you’ll lose the ante and raise bets. When your hand outranks the dealer’s hand, you’ll receive an even money payout on both the ante and raise bets, but only when the dealer’s hand qualifies. When both the dealer’s hand and the player’s hand are of identical strength, both the ante bet and the raise bet will be returned as a push.
Player versus Dealer and Getting Paid
In the game of online 3 Card Poker, the dealer must produce a hand of queen high or better in order to qualify. When the dealer fails to qualify, and you turn up the winner, you’ll only win even money on your ante bet while the raise bet will be returned as a push. When the dealer does qualify, and you turn up the winner, both your ante and raise bets will receive an even money payout.
For the Pair Plus bet, you’ll be paid out whenever you make a strong enough hand, even if the dealer’s hand has you beat.
3 Card Poker Hand Rankings
The 3 Card Poker hands are described below in descending order of strength:
- Mini royal flush* A K Q of the same suit
*The mini royal flush is only available in some online casinos
You may have noticed that the list above is slightly different than the traditional poker hand hierarchy you’re used to seeing. Flush’s beat straights and three of a kind in regular poker games, but the 3 card limitation actually make’s it the easiest of this trio to make.
Three Card Poker Breakdown and Layout
In Three Card Poker, the deck provides 52 available combinations with which to make three of a kind, so it’s actually on par with the straight flush, 48 combinations, in terms of rarity. The odds that you’ll be dealt a pat straight flush or three of a kind stand at less than 1 percent while making a straight (3.2 percent) or a flush (4.9 percent) is much easier to accomplish.
Pair Plus Side Bet Payout
Various versions of the Pair Plus payout table can be found depending on your online casino of choice, but the standard payouts for this side bet are listed below in descending order of strength:
- Straight Flush: 40 to 1
- Three of a Kind: 30 to 1
- Straight: 6 to 1
- Flush: 4 to 1
- One Pair: 1 to 1
When utilizing the paytable above, the house edge offered by the Pair Plus bet drops to a reasonable 2.32 percent. However, pay close attention to the Pair Plus payouts whenever you try a new online casino because even a slight tweak in the numbers can put you at a much larger disadvantage. One commonly used paytable for Pair Plus bets uses the 1 / 3 / 6 / 30 / 40 structure, only adjusting the payout for flushes from 4 to 1 to 3 to 1, but increasing the house edge to a whopping 7.28 percent.
You may also find Three Card Poker tables which pay out at 80 to 1 for mini royal flushes on the Pair Plus bet. The most commonly used payout structure with mini royal flushes included is 1 / 3 / 6 / 25 / 40 / 80, which carries a 7.73 percent house edge.
While you have a multitude of betting options during a 3 Card Poker hand, and players can use them at their discretion, the standard hand plays out with an ante bet, a pair plus bet, and a raise when you have a strong enough hand.
The reason players usually opt to place the ante bet even though it’s optional is because this entitles you to an Ante Bonus, or an additional payout whenever you make a straight or better. While slightly different versions of the paytable exist, standard Ante Bonus payouts for Three Card Poker are listed below in ascending order of strength:
- Straight Flush: 5 to 1
- Flush: 4 to 1
- Straight: 1 to 1
This means that on the odd chance you make a flush, only to see the dealer make a straight flush, you’ll still win $20 on your $5 ante bet as an Ante Bonus.
Another optional side bet you might notice at the 3 Card Poker tables will be labeled Six Card Bonus. This bet pays out when your three cards combine with the dealer’s hand to create strong six-card poker hands. Generally considered a sucker bet due to the inordinately high house edge, the Six Card Bonus wager should be avoided at all times.
3 Card Poker Variations
3 Card Poker has become such a popular casino card game that there are now a variety of different games that use their basic gameplay and rules to create something new and exciting. These are some of the real money game variations you can find.
Online 3 Card Poker Strategy
Despite the diverse array of wagering options and associated payouts, the strategy behind playing 3 Card Poker correctly is relatively simple and straightforward.
When to Raise, When to Fold
In this game, you can expect to turn up the winning hand 44.91 percent of the time, while the dealer will win 55.03 percent of hands, and the rest of the deals will result in a push. By identifying the starting hand strength of all possible three-card combinations, gambling mathematicians have determined the threshold players should use to dictate their raise or fold decision.
Whenever you hold a hand stronger than Q 6 4, you should always opt to place the additional raise bet. This means a hand of Q 6 3 or below should always be folded.
The reasoning behind this strategy is easy enough to grasp: against any random three card hand, the minimum hand you’ll need to have a 51 percent chance of holding a better hand is Q 6 4. Anything better is an obvious raise, and anything worse should be folded without a second thought.
As the folks at Wizard of Odds have deduced, a general strategy favored by many players is to simply raise whenever they have a queen high, but this strategy is not as efficient as the Q-6-4 rule.
Avoid the Sucker Bet
Finally, you should take care to avoid any Six Card Bonus bets or additional side wagers when playing Three Card Poker. Placing the Pair Plus bet isn’t a good move over the long run either, and expert players abstain from the Pair Plus bet altogether, but casual players can splash a few chips around here without increasing the house edge to unbeatable levels.
Additional Resources for Players
Players looking to expand their knowledge or get acquainted with 3 Card Poker can use these resources to help them better understand and play the popular card game.