3 Card Poker Terms

3 Card Poker

3 Card PokerThe name of the game which is a unique blend of skill and luck based on traditional poker. A standard 52 card deck is used and there are two options for players to make bets. You can bet on either the ante and raise, or the pair plus option. Both options have positives and negatives associated with them, with the house edge being much lower on the ante and raise bet. Three card poker is available in Las Vegas and online.


The total amount of money on the 3 Card Poker table at a particular point in time. It can also refer to which player’s turn it is in the process of play, and the amount of money that an individual player is planning to wager at the table over a session.

Ante and Raise

This is the main bet type you make in the game of 3 Card Poker. The ante is the initial bet that is placed down by a player to join the 3 Card Poker game. This must be wagered in every hand regardless of the choice to raise or fold after you’ve been dealt the three cards. The raise is the option the player has once they have their cards. If they choose not to raise they lose their ante and are out of the hand. If they raise they must match their ante bet to a showdown against the dealer. The raise is sometimes also referred to as the play.

Ante Bonus

If you’re wagering on the ante and raise bet type and you’re dealt a straight, flush, or straight flush you’ll receive a bonus payout irrespective of the dealer’s hand. The straight pays a bonus of 1 to 1, the three of a kind 4 to 1, and the straight flush 5 to 1.


A player’s total money that is set aside for use in a casino game. Bankroll management is vital if you’re looking to play long term and are trying to manage your wins and losses effectively. It’s strongly recommended that you set your bankroll before you play and determine how long your session will be in order to limit swings and variations.

Basic Strategy

3 Card Poker terms strategyIn many casino games, there’s a basic strategy you can follow to improve your chances of having a winning session by decreasing the house edge as much as possible. Using basic strategy is only available in games where a decision is made that can change the outcome. The basic strategy to follow in 3 Card Poker is on the ante and raise bet type. You should raise or play, if you hold a queen, 6, and 4, or better. It’s that simple for this game which is great for the player.


The action of wagering money on a particular outcome is known as a bet. The ante is the first bet you’ll make in a game of three-card poker.


Small clay or plastic discs which have real cash value in the casino. These can be purchased for cash from the table or from the casinos cage.

Chip Tray

A wooden or plastic section of the table in front of the dealer where chips are stored.

Continuous Shuffling Machine or CSM

A machine that is used in live game which automatically and continuously shuffles cards. Dealer’s place used cards in the rear of the machine. Once shuffled the cards are placed into a buffer in the front of the machine ready to be dealt.


3 card poker dealerThe casino employee that runs the game and deals the cards. In 3 Card Poker, the dealer also has a three card hand that players must try to beat with their own hand in the ante and raise bet.

In the pair plus bet, the players don’t play against the dealer so their hand is irrelevant.


A rude term that some poker players use to describe an inexperienced or poor player. This is more common in standard poker, however, it can sometimes bleed into 3 Card Poker.


3 Card FlushThree cards of the same suit are known as a flush. This is rated below a straight in 3 Card Poker which is the only difference in hand rankings when compared to traditional poker.

House Edge

House Edge iconThe statistical advantage that the casino has over the player in a game is known as the house edge. This is written in percentage form and represents how much money the house  wins from the player over time. If you wager $100 then the house keeps 3.37% of that over time which translates to $3.37. This is for the ante and raise play. For the pair plus bet option the house keeps 7.28% of what you wager, so they keep $7.28. All casino table games have a house edge so that the casino can be profitable and can continue offering games. Quite often online casinos offer better payout odds and a result, better house edge due to the lower overheads they have in operating their games, in comparison to a live casino.

High Card

3 Card High CardWhen a player or dealer fails to make a pair, their hand is ranked according to the highest card that they hold. This is known as a high card hand. In the pair plus option, a high card hand is a losing hand.

Live Dealer 3 Card Poker

An innovation that online casinos have introduced recently is live dealer games. In these players are connected to a casino floor via a video link. They still bet via a digital overlay on top of the video link. Real dealers deal the cards and interact with players during a live dealer 3 card poker game.

Live 3 Card Poker

This simply refers to a real game that is taking place on a casino floor with a dealer, actual cards, and other players. It’s known as the live environment. Live games often have higher bet minimums and a larger house edge.

Online 3 Card Poker

If you’re playing 3 Card Poker online via a computer, tablet, or smartphone, then you’re in an online 3 card poker game. This game can be fully digital using graphics and a random number generator, or it can be partially digital in a live dealer game where you’re connected via a video link to an actual dealer and casino floor and real cards are used.


3 Card One PairA collection of two cards of the same rank. A pair of aces is the highest possible pair. You should always play a pair in 3 Card Poker and never fold.

Pair Plus

One of the bet types you can make in 3 Card Poker. This is played separately, and individually, to the ante and raise bet. In this bet you aren’t playing against the dealer, you’re simply trying to achieve at least a pair to win. The minimum winning hand is a pair, funnily enough. A pair pays out 1 to 1, a flush 4 to 1, a straight 6 to 1, a three of a kind 30 to 1, and a straight flush 40 to 1. Keep in mind that these payouts can differ from casino to casino. The house edge on the pair plus bet is 7.28%, which is very high.

Pay Table or Payout Schedule

Located on the table felt itself, or in a booklet near the table, the pay table outlines what bets are available in the game and what the specific payouts are for those bets. It’s important to look at these before you play as this can change significantly from casino to casino. Ideally, it’s best to find tables that pay out at the higher rates as that means the house edge is lower. These are also available online, usually via a button on the game interface, and you should keep them just in the same way you do in a live casino.

Prime Side Bet

In this side bet, which is available at some poker sites, the player makes an extra wager on the colors of their three cards matching. If they hit all the same colors the bet pays out 3 to 1. If the dealer’s cards are also the same colors, meaning all six cards are either red or black, then the payout is 4 to 1. The house advantage on this bet is 3.62%. As always, side bets are never a good option statistically, however, they can offer extra excitement in the game.

Qualifying Hand

The dealer must have at least a queen high hand for it to qualify to a showdown against the player. If they don’t get this, then the raise bet is a push in most casinos and is returned to the player. Some casinos do pay out on the raise bet also. The ante bet is paid out as normal in this circumstance.

Queen / 6 / 4

This is considered the lowest possible hand to raise with when you’re playing on the ante and raise. If this basic strategy is followed, then the house edge is lessened as much as possible.


This refers to the second bet a player must make to showdown against the dealer when they are playing the bet and raise, or bet and play, option in 3 Card Poker. You must match your ante bet to a showdown against the dealer, and basic strategy dictates you should do this when you have a queen, 6, and 4, or better hand.

Random Number Generator or RNG

A complex computer program which generates random number via a mathematical formula. These programs are used to determine outcomes in online and video casino games. In 3 Card Poker, a random number generator determines the order of the cards in the deck after a shuffle. This is truly random and each shuffle by the program is independent of any others that have occurred before it. This creates a truly random deck order so as to mirror the shuffling of a deck in a live game.


A plastic or wooden container where cards are placed once they’re shuffled by the dealer. They can then be dealt easily from the shoe to the players.

Side Bet

A separate bet which is made in conjunction with the main bet in the game. These generally carry a much higher house edge, yet the payouts can be quite large. In 3 Card Poker, you’ll be able to sometimes find the six card bonus and prime side bet options. As a general rule, side bets should always be avoided if you’re playing for the best possible odds.

Six Card Bonus

This is another side bet which is available in some 3 Card Poker games. In this bet, you’re looking to make the best possible poker hand from your three cards and the dealer’s three cards. The bet is paid out if you achieve a three of a kind as a minimum.


3 Card StraightThree cards in sequential order. Ace can act as high or low. The only difference in hand ranks in 3 Card Poker from standard poker is that a straight is worth more than a flush.

Straight Flush

3 Card Straight FlushThree cards in sequential order and of the same suit. If you’re lucky enough to hit one of these, you’ll be in for a nice payday.

Three of a Kind

3 Card Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank. The highest possible three of a kind is three aces.


The aim of every player is to win more hands than they lose. Unfortunately, the house edge makes this very difficult to do, unless you have a lucky session. To win in 3 Card Poker you’ll need the dealer to not make a qualifying hand, or for your hand to outrank the dealer’s poker hand. If you’re playing the pair plus bet option, then you simply need to make a pair in your hand to win.

About the Author
Neil White

Neil White - Editor in Chief

His drive and passion for casinos and the most popular games keep him in touch with the latest news and interests to provide the best for his readers.