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Three Card Poker Rules

Page summary: A review of the rules and pay out structure of Three Card Poker.

Three Card Poker Rules - How to Play Three Card Poker

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Three Card Poker is a table game that is offered at a majority of casinos worldwide. The game derives from an English version of poker called 3-Card Brag. Poker player Derek Webb invented the current version of Three Card Poker. You may also find Three Card Poker to be called Tri-Card Poker in various casinos around the globe.


Three Card Poker is a table game in which each of the players plays against the dealer for the most part. There are two sides to the betting and that is why it is played against the dealer.

The game begins with players placing their bets. In Three Card Poker there are two betting sides. One of the sides is Ante and Play. The other side is Pair Plus. Players do not have to make bets on both sides. However, players must put a wager on the Ante and Play side.

The Ante and Play side of the wagering is played against the dealer and the Pair Plus side is straight up based on your hand. Each player is dealt three cards. There are no more cards coming, hence the title Three Card Poker.

A flush is three suited cards and a straight is three consecutive cards. The straight flush is three consecutive cards that are suited.

Once you receive your hand, you have the option to fold. If you fold, all bets are lost. If you decide to play or move forward, you must place another bet that is equal to the amount of your Ante and Play bet.

Once the table is done making their decisions, the dealer's hand is revealed. The Ante and Play wager is played against the dealer. However, the dealer's hand must qualify. Normally, the dealer must have a queen high hand to qualify.

If the dealer's hand does not qualify, you win even money on your Ante and your Play bet pushes. If the dealer qualifies and you win, you win the Ante and the Play bets. If the dealer qualifies and you tie, both bets are pushed on the Ante and Play side. If you lose to the dealer, both bets are lost.

If you get a straight or better, regardless of whether you lose or win the hand on the Ante and Play side, you are usually awarded a bonus pay out. The hand rankings in Three Card Poker rank in this order: straight flush, three of a kind, straight, flush, pair and nothing. A normal bonus pay out table is as follows:

  • Straight Flush - 5 to 1
  • Three Of A Kind - 4 to 1
  • Straight - 1 to 1

Pair Plus

The pair plus betting option allows players to place a wager predicting that they will hit something. You are paid significantly better odds on the Pair Plus option. However, if you hit nothing you automatically lose. You do not have the chance of winning by beating the dealer with a high card. A normal Pair Plus pay out chart is as follows:

  • Straight Flush - 40 to 1
  • Three Of A Kind - 30 to 1
  • Straight - 6 to 1
  • Flush - 4 to 1
  • Pair - 1 to 1

As far as strategy, the Pair Plus bet is an odds bet. The Ante and Play section is pretty straightforward. If you don't have at least a pair or an Ace, you probably don't want to make the play bet. You should fold.

Odds - Probability of what types of hands you will be dealt:

  • Straight Flush - .21%
  • Three Of A Kind - .23%
  • Straight - 3.25%
  • Flush - 4.95%
  • Pair - 16.94%
  • Nothing - 74.38%

Three Card Poker is a fairly simple game that can be lucrative if you hit your strand of cards. In table games, betting patterns often have a lot to do with determining profitability. If you're new to poker, this should be a good starting point. It's a simple poker game that does not require an enormous amount of strategic knowledge. However, players should be knowledgeable of the rules and basic poker concepts.

Pay attention to the odds and realize that on the Pair Plus bet you have a 74.3% chance that you'll hit nothing on each hand. However, the 74.3% is statistically the same for the house. The dealer receives three cards and also has the same odds of getting nothing. The Ante and Play bets seem to be the most lucrative in the long run.