How to Play 3 Card Poker: Complete Guide

Written by: Sadonna Price , Expert in Online Casinos and Poker

3 Card Poker is a fast-paced cross between blackjack and table poker. It quickly became one of the most popular casino games for its large payouts and easy-to-understand rules. Depending on the online casino, you might see the same game under different titles like Tri Card Poker3 Card Brag, or Poker Three.

This in-depth guide will explain how to play three-card poker, the rules, and the basic strategy. You can also find a list of reputable gambling sites where you can play.

The Best 3 Card Poker Online Casinos

You can play three card poker online at many top gambling sites. You can play from home and use welcome bonuses and ongoing player promotions to boost your deposits. Based on our reviews, these are the best casino sites offering Three Card Poker online.

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How to Play 3 Card Poker

Three card poker is easy to learn and fun to play. It’s you against the dealer in this cross between table poker and blackjack. The objective is to hold a better three-card hand than the dealer. These are the steps you’ll go through in a single game.

  1. Place Your Bets

    The first thing you have to do when playing a new round is to make your wagers. You have a couple of options here. You can place a standard ante bet, a pair plus side bet, or both.
  2. Three Cards Get Dealt

    The cards get dealt. You will get three face-up cards, while the dealer will get three cards face-down.
  3. Players Make A Decision

    At this point, you need to decide whether to raise or fold. To continue playing and see the dealer’s cards, you must raise equal to the ante. If you don’t think you can win, then you can fold and lose your placed bets.
  4. Completing The Hand

    Once you make your choices, the dealer reveals their cards and compares them. You do not need to make any further decisions.
  5. Payouts Are Awarded

    Once all the cards are revealed at the end of the hand, the house issues the payouts.

3 Card Poker Rules

Three-card poker uses a player-dealer position, so players are up against the house and not against each other like in regular poker. Using a standard deck of 52 cards and betting chips, the objective is to make the best 3-card poker hand possible. The house edge for three-card poker is around 3.7%, and your odds can improve if you stick to the basic strategy.

3 Card Poker Hands

The 3 card poker hands described below are in descending order of strength. They are slightly different than the traditional poker hand hierarchy. Some online casinos have a “mini royal flush” for A, K, and Q of the same suit.

3 Card Poker Hand Strength Chart

Three Card Poker Game Bets

Before the dealer hands out the cards, you have to place your wagers. You have a few betting options at most three-card poker tables.

Single Bet icon

Ante & Play Bets

The ante is the first wager to see your cards. The “play bet” equals your ante and lets you compete with the dealer’s hand.

Pair of Aces icon

Pair Plus Side Bet

The pair plus side bet is for players who think they will get a pair or better. You can place this in addition to the ante.

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6 Card Bonus

The six-card side bet is generally a loss. You wager on your cards, plus the dealer’s cards being a strong 6 card poker hand.

3 Card Poker Table Layout

Take a look at this three-card poker table set up to understand how the game looks and where you should place your respective bets.

3 Card Poker Game Table

3 Card Poker Strategy to Win

Once you understand the basic strategy of 3 card poker, it can be easy to recognize and read situations where you can employ optimal play. This section will help educate you on when to raise or fold given different hands when playing.

The minimum hand you want to be raising is Q-6-4. That is the minimum baseline hand you should play in 3 card poker. So if you have a hand with any A or K, or Q-7-x, you should be playing it. Conversely, fold every hand that is Q-6-3 or below like all Jacks. Remembering the Q-6-4 rule will help you make the best decision no matter what hand you’re given.

Some people use a training tool to practice. You can play as you see fit, but particular plays have a statistical advantage based on math.

3 Card Poker Cheat Sheet

  • Raise any hand stronger than Q–6–4
  • Fold any hand Q–6–3 or weaker
3 Card Poker Cheat Sheet
3 Card Poker Cheat Sheet Responsive

Play Free Three Card Poker

Do you want to play three card poker for free? Try this game demo and get a feel for the table layout and how to place your bets. You won’t keep your winnings, but you can practice your skills.

3 Card Poker Payouts

Three card poker payouts depend significantly on the cards. The dealer needs at least a queen for their hand to qualify. If the dealer qualifies and your hand wins, you get a 1:1 payout on the ante and the raise. If you lose, then all bets are lost.

A push is a tie, in which case all wagers get returned. If the dealer doesn’t qualify after you ante and raise, you get a 1:1 payout on only your ante.

Side Bet & Ante Bonus Paytables

When placing the side bet or getting a great hand, you may qualify for an additional payout. While you may see slight variation from site to site, the following are the standard three card poker paytables.

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Pair Plus Side Bet Payouts

Some online casinos offer an 80:1 payout for the mini royal flush in addition to the following paytable.

Straight Flush40 to 1
Three of a Kind30 to 1
Straight6 to 1
Flush4 to 1
One Pair1 to 1
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Ante Bonus Payouts

You may see different ante bonuses, but the payout is usually whenever you make a straight or better.

Straight Flush5 to 1
Three of a Kind4 to 1
Straight1 to 1
FlushNo Bonus
One PairNo Bonus

If you lose to the dealer, you obviously lose both bets. When you fold without raising after getting your cards, you also lose the pair plus bet. This isn’t a problem, though, because if you did win the pair plus bet, you certainly wouldn’t fold the hand; you’d always raise.

3 Card Poker Online

You can play three-card poker online in different formats. Maybe you want to play on the go or desire a more interactive experience. Try out some of these other ways to play casino games on the internet.

Mobile Casino Games Icon

Mobile Casino 3 Card Poker

You don’t have to stay behind the computer. Play three card poker on your mobile devices today!

Live Dealer Cards Icon

Live Dealer 3 Card Poker

For an interactive online casino experience, non-US players can enjoy live dealer 3 card poker games.

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Real Money 3 Card Poker

Playing real money 3 card poker is the only way you get to keep what you win. Try your luck and play!

3 Card Poker Variations

Three Card Poker has proliferated throughout casinos and card rooms across the country. And as the game has spread, regional offshoots have been developed by casino operators hoping to carve out their own niche in the highly competitive market.

Here are some of the most popular 3 Card Poker variations you’ll find out there.

Triple Edge Poker

Triple Edge Poker Green Logo

Triple Edge Poker is Betsoft’s version of 3-Card Poker. It features the familiar Ante and the Pair Plus side bets and the ability to play multiple hands at once. You must build the best hand using only three cards. The stronger your cards, the larger the payout.

Triple Edge Poker is nearly identical to 3-Card Poker. You don’t draw or use community cards after the initial deal. It’s simply your hand pitted against the house.

With optimal play, the game has an overall house edge of 5.32%.

Face Up Three Card Poker

Face Up Three Card Poker games

In Face Up Three Card Poker, the dealer will show one of their three cards to the table throughout the hand rather than keeping it concealed.

The first major difference between the classic Three Card Poker and the Face-Up variety occurs here, as the dealer’s hand will show one “up” card along with two “hole” cards.

The second major rule change in Face Up Three Card Poker concerns the concept of dealer qualification. This means that the dealer must show down a “qualifying” hand of queen high or better in order to trigger certain payout conditions.

Ultimate Three-Card Poker

Ultimate Three Card Poker

Ultimate Three Card Poker is the more extreme version of 3 Card Poker, following similar rules and gameplay. Using only three cards to make the winning hand, players look to beat the dealer.

Playing with a basic strategy offers a house edge of 5.42 percent. When compared to regular Three Card Poker ( 0.33%4.28 house edge), Ultimate Three Card Poker isn’t really the best bet in terms of gambling strategy.

After all, you can enjoy an almost identical gameplay experience by playing the classic version of the game while instantly shaving your house edge by an order of magnitude.

4 Card Poker

Four Card Poker

Four Card Poker is very similar to 3 Card Poker, with the addition of one extra card to make a winning hand.

The objective of Four Card Poker is to form the best four-card poker hand out of the five cards you’re dealt.

The game utilizes an adjusted form of the traditional poker hand hierarchy, as you’ll only be using four cards in your hand rather than five.

Try Your Hand at Three Card Poker Today

You have all the resources you need to start playing three-card poker. You’ll be able to find it in some form at most online and land-based casinos. 3-card poker has even found its way into the smash-hit video game GTA3.

Now that you know the rules, how to play a hand, and the basic winning strategy, it could be your new favorite title. Sign up today to play this poker variant at one of the best gambling sites.

Three Card Poker FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions we get regarding three-card poker.

What are the odds of winning three card poker?

The odds of winning 3 card poker are 44.91% for a player to win, 55.03% for a dealer to win, and 0.06% for a tie. This calculation uses only the hand strength and ignores the influence of the ante bonus and side bet payouts on RTP over time.

What’s the best hand in 3 card poker?

The best hand in three card poker is the straight flush. It consists of three cards, in sequence, all with the same suit.

What are the rules for three card poker?

The rules for three-card poker are quite simple. After the ante bets have been made, three cards are dealt heads up to each player and the dealer. The player must decide to either make a play bet or fold, losing the ante bet. Afterward, the dealer’s hand is revealed, and payouts are awarded.

Why does a straight beat a flush in three card poker?

A straight beats a flush in three-card poker because it is harder to get based on each card’s number in the deck. See the 3 card poker hand infographic above for the complete list in order.

Is there any strategy for 3 card poker?

Yes, the strategy to 3 card poker consists of two simple rules. Raise with Q 6 4 or stronger, and fold with Q 6 3 or weaker.

What is the house edge of 3 card poker?

The house edge in three-card poker is 3.37% on the ante and raise bets, and it’s 7.28% for the pair plus bet. This is quite high when it comes to casino table games. Roulette with a single zero is 2.7%, blackjack is 0.28% with excellent rules, baccarat is 1.06% on the banker, and craps is 1.36% on the don’t pass line, and they don’t come bets. So as you can see, 3 Card Poker isn’t great in this respect.

Is there a simple 3 card poker strategy I can use?

The most popular strategy and the best to implement in three-card poker is to raise if you hold at least a Queen, 6, and 4. The game is played according to poker hands, where the highest card is rated first, then the second highest, and then the third highest. So if you hold a King, then you play no matter what. If you hold a queen, you must hold at least a 6, and if you hold a Queen and 6, the third card must be at least a 4.

Can I play 3 card poker online?

You can play 3 Card Poker online, which is excellent for almost everyone who wants to play the game. This is because you can usually find better odds and more favorable games online when compared to a bricks and mortar casino. Online casinos have tiny overheads when compared to live casinos, and they also don’t need dealers or people to run the games. It’s a completely different setup which lets them offer you smaller stakes games and also a much lower house edge at times.

Should I play 3 card poker?

Like all casino table games, you need to try them out and see if you enjoy the gameplay itself. This is where online play is a great option, as you can play at low stakes, or even for free, to see if you like the game. The online version of the game will give you a different playing experience than live 3 Card Poker. However, it should still give you a good indication of the game.

An Additional 3 Card Poker Resource

Sadonna Price

Sadonna Price Expert in Online Casinos and Poker

Sadonna is a gambling content writer and former professional poker player that loves using her creativity to provide insight into the most interesting aspects of the casino world.

Learn More About Sadonna