Three-card poker is a fast-paced variant of poker that many online casinos feature. Quickly gaining popularity, three-card poker has become one of the world’s top game variants.
With this article, you will understand three-card poker, how to play, and where to find the best games. And with that, let’s dive in.
WHAT IS 3-CARD POKER?
Compared to other variants, learning how to play three-card poker is pretty easy. The aim of this casino game is simple — earn the best poker hand possible with just three cards to beat the dealer and receive a payout.
While this table game comes with the classic Ante bet and Play bet, it also comes with optional side bets, including the Pair Plus and the Six-Card Bonus bets.
HOW TO PLAY 3-CARD POKER
First, let’s start with the basics. This game is played with a 52-card deck and digital betting chips, like any online casino game. The rules and objectives for three-card poker are very simple — try and form the best three-card poker hand possible and beat the dealer.
- The round begins with a player placing an Ante bet as the opening bet before cards are dealt. In addition to the Ante bet, players may place additional side bets during this time, like the Pair Plus wager.
- The dealer and the player receive three cards, facedown for the dealer and face-up for the player.
- Here the player has two choices: the player folds or calls. A player decides based on how strong the three cards dealt are.
- If the player folds, then the player’s Ante bet remains, along with any side bet.
- If the player calls, they must place a second wager on the hand’s outcome, known as a Play wager. This Play bet is equal to the Ante wager.
- At this point, both opponents reveal their three-card poker hand to determine a winner. The dealer can only qualify if they receive a queen-high card or better.
- If instead of a queen-high, the dealer has a jack-high three-card poker hand or worse, the Ante wager is paid out 1:1 (even money), and the Play bet is returned.
- If both the dealer and the player have three-card poker hands of equal rank, both the Ante bet and the Play bet are returned.
- If the dealer reveals a queen-high card outranking the player’s hand, all bets are lost.
- If the player’s own hand outranks the dealer’s hand, the player wins and is paid according to the hand they formed.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC 3-CARD POKER RULES?
The rules of three-card poker will vary greatly between variants, so be aware of them before you throw down your chips. You’ll find that different tables may offer unique side bets, different winning combinations or even special cards, like jokers, that can help you win.
Bets can be placed at the beginning of each round within a specific time period. Once that time period expires, three cards are dealt to both the player and the dealer, with the dealer’s cards face down.
The card values are ranked in descending order, the king being the highest-valued card and the two being the lowest. The ace card can rank both high and low, depending on the type of hand obtained.
Since it is a harder poker hand to obtain, straight flushes are more valuable than the flush in this case. The winner is determined by the better three-card poker hand. Pair Plus payouts occur with a pair or better.
How you form a strong hand is dependent on a number of factors, though having a solid understanding of how each hand ranks will go a long way. More experienced players might dabble in a few different strategies, but you may want to get a few practise sessions in before trying a few out for yourself.
THE 3-CARD POKER TABLE LAYOUT
Usually, three-card poker is played on a standard blackjack table, with players sitting at any one of the eight places on one side of the table, along with the player-dealer. The house dealer sits opposite.
Each table has a dropbox attached to it, and there will be eight wagering areas for each player to place their ante chip.
The wagering areas are designated as follows:
- ‘Ante’ spot — for players making the Ante wager.
- ‘Play’ spot — for players making the Play wager.
- ‘Bonus/Pair Plus’ spot — for players making Bonus or Pair Plus wager.
RANKING OF HANDS IN 3-CARD POKER
Poker hand rankings are fairly straightforward. As mentioned previously, three-card poker hand rankings differ from those in five-card draw. Classic poker is played with five cards, whereas this version is played with three cards.
Below is a full list of the hand rankings in descending order:
- Mini Royal Flush: A hand featuring the ace, king and queen of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: A hand featuring consecutive cards of the same suit. For example, receiving a king, queen and jack of spades.
- Three-of-a-kind: A three-of-a-kind features three cards of the same rank. For example, receiving three fours.
- Straight: A hand featuring three cards of consecutive value, such as a five, six and seven.
- Flush: A hand featuring three cards of the same suit, such as three cards that are all clubs.
- Pair: A hand featuring two cards of equal value and a third card. For example, receiving two fours and a five.
- High Card: This is any hand which does not qualify for any other combination. For example, receiving six of clubs, a queen of hearts, and five of diamonds.
3-CARD POKER STAKES
Every table has minimum and maximum bet sizes. Generally, playing a hand of ante-play means the Play bet will be double the minimum stake; this is because if you decide to keep your hand and play it against the dealer, the Ante and Play bets are the table minimum stake amount.
During play, the Ante and Play chips are usually of the same numerical value. However, the player’s Ante wager and Play wager may differ from the amount on the Pair Plus wager. The Pair Plus bet must still be within the limits of the minimum and maximum values of the table stakes.
THE 3-CARD POKER STRATEGY
If you’re wondering what kind of strategies you can incorporate into a game of three-card poker, you’ll notice there isn’t much strategy to go on. In fact, it is generally limited to deciding which cards you will keep and discard.
The optimal strategy for this game is to keep any hand with at least a queen, six, and four. Anything weaker can be discarded.
Do not underestimate this strategy! While it may look overly simplistic, it is the foremost strategy used in this game. Otherwise, there are no other plays that you need.
WHAT KIND OF BETS CAN YOU PLACE IN 3-CARD POKER?
To see how each bet pays, players can give the paytable a look by heading to the game rules under the ‘?’ tab. Remember that every bonus bet is an optional wager, so you can choose to opt out of these wagers.
With that in mind, players looking to boost their payout might want to consider trying a side bet. Depending on the bets placed, the house edge might fluctuate.
SPECIAL 3-CARD POKER BETS
To stop players from growing bored when playing online casino poker games such as this one, casinos like to include a number of special bets to add some spark:
- Play Both
A combination of the Ante wager and the Pair Plus wager, the Play Both bet will pay if the player has at least a pair or better and succeeds in beating the dealer’s hand.
- Ante Bonus
Ante and Play wagers may qualify the player for Ante Bonus payouts, regardless of whether the dealer qualifies or if the dealer’s hand wins. The player must hold a straight flush, three-of-a-kind or straight to win an Ante Bonus bet.
- Six-Card Bonus
With the Six-Card Bonus bet, players receive a payout if their ante play plus the dealer’s form any of the following hands: royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, flush, straight and three-of-a-kind.
THE HOUSE EDGE IN 3-CARD POKER
One thing players must always face in casino games is the house edge. Bear in mind that in regular poker games where players play against each other, it is possible for the edge to be skewed in favour of the player most skilled. However, this is not so when it comes to banked casino games.
When it comes to this game, the house edge sits around 3.7%. While this is far from the steepest edge in favour of the house, it is still present.
That being said, there is a viable way in which a player can potentially shift that edge slightly more towards their favour: by sticking to the optimal three-card poker strategy.
When the Play bet is made with a hand of Q-6-4 or higher, this lowers the casino advantage to a low 2%.
Another wager favouring the house is the Pair Plus bet. Using the optimal strategy once again, players can expect to lower the house edge to 2.3% with the Pair Plus wager.
Bearing all this in mind, it is plain to see that this variant is one of the best in terms of odds and house edge.
Forming an optimal three-card poker strategy is also much simpler than a strategy for other variations with a five-card poker hand, such as Texas hold ’em or Omaha variants.
THE ANTE, PAIR PLUS, AND PLAY BETS
There are three betting options available at most online casinos:
- Ante wager: The first bet placed where the player’s hand is the highest-ranking poker hand. This is an even-money bet.
- Pair Plus bet: Paid out if the player’s hand creates a pair hand or better. The dealer’s hand is not relevant in this case.
- Bonus bet: Paid out if both the dealer’s and the player’s hand form a five-card hand of three-of-a-kind or better.
3-CARD POKER ETIQUETTE
Naturally, you’ll be hard-pressed to find online casinos that don’t host this much-loved variant. No matter where you play three-card poker, whether online or in person in Las Vegas, etiquette is a necessity!
Some things to keep in mind when you play three-card poker include:
RESPECT THE OTHER PEOPLE AT THE TABLE
This is a given, but you’d be surprised how many players forget to observe basic etiquette rules for a table. Things such as taking a phone call at the table, telling other players what they should or shouldn’t have done, and being discourteous are all ways you can annoy your fellow players and possibly even get you removed from the table!
TIP THE DEALER
It is customary and good practice to tip the dealer, even when finding yourself on a losing streak. It may seem counterintuitive to tip when your hand loses, but a good relationship with the casino and staff is always in your interest.
MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE TABLE GAME RULES
Before sitting at a table, make sure you are familiar with the table game rules. This allows for the gameplay to be smooth, efficient and entertaining for all. It also protects your bankroll from preventable losses and helps shore up your confidence in a game (especially if you need to bluff).
OBSERVE THE HOUSE RULES AT ALL TIMES
The house rules may change from one casino to the next, but you should be aware of the rules in any venue or online casino you frequent. They are there to protect players and ensure a good time for all, and you may be asked to leave if you’re found breaking any number of them.
CONCLUSION — IS 3-CARD POKER GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?
Three-card poker tables are known for speedy gameplay, and their simplified nature makes them perfect for newbies needing a stepping stone into five-card games.
LV BET has a whole trove of terrific three-card poker titles to try out, and while you’re at it, head to our Live Casino for a superb selection of immersive live tables to scroll through!
✅ CAN I PLAY 3-CARD POKER FOR FREE?
Live Casino games do not come with a demo as online casino slots do, so three-card poker can only be played by placing a real bet. That being said, LV BET hosts loads of RNG games where players can take the chips for a spin. Understanding how the classic game works is an excellent way of getting a solid grasp of the three-card poker rules and how to play three-card poker.
✅ WHAT IS THE BEST 3-CARD POKER GAME ONLINE?
At LV BET, a popular choice amongst players is Evolution’s Three Card Poker.
✅ CAN I PLAY 3-CARD POKER WITH BONUSES?
Try your luck at the Ante bonus payout and beat the dealer’s hand while enjoying an incredible casino experience at LV BET. Claim sweet Live Casino promotions to give your bankroll a little bit of a boost — just remember to read the Terms and Conditions.
✅ WHAT ARE MY ODDS OF WINNING IN 3-CARD POKER?
The odds of winning a three-card poker hand sit at 96.7%, making it one of the more attractive variants out there.
Regardless, the odds of you receiving a payout every single round are low since three-card poker is a game of chance. In addition to an Ante bet and Play bet, you can place additional side bets like the Pair Plus bet or the Six-Card Bonus bet to increase your winnings, but remember, more bets do not equate to increased odds of winning.
✅ WHAT ARE THE 3-CARD POKER HANDS?
The poker hands in three-card poker include the following: mini royal, straight flushes, three-of-a-kind, straight, flush, pair and high card.
✅ WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ANTE BET AND PLAY BET?
The Ante bet is the first bet players must place, whereas the Play bet is placed mid-game to move on to the next round.
✅ IS THE STRAIGHT FLUSH A GOOD HAND TO HAVE?
Yes. This hand is the second-highest hand a player could earn, and is only beaten by a mini royal.