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How to Play Three-Card Poker?

Of the many popular poker game varieties, one stands out as being simple and exciting to play, requiring only basic poker knowledge. We are talking about 3-Card poker, and this poker variety is packed with excitement and plenty of thrilling twists, which we’ll discuss at length here. Three-Card poker is top-rated around the world, with all online casinos and almost all land-based casinos featuring a 3-Card poker option for their players. It is because, unlike regular poker like Texas Hold ‘emOmaha, or even Razz poker, you don’t play against the other players, but you play against the dealer, and you have a much greater chance to win a huge payout, which we’ll explain later.

3-Card Poker Rules

The game of 3-Card poker was invented by Derek Webb in 1994, and in the last 30+ years, it has become a favorite among casino goers. The game is played with a single 52-card deck, and the main thing is that Three-Card poker is a heads-up game where the player plays against the dealer, unlike other poker variants where the players play against each other. The game can be played with 2 to 8 players, and the main objective is to beat the dealer to get a payout or have a very strong poker hand to get a payout.

One of the main poker rules of 3-Card poker is for the dealer to have a Queen or higher in their hand for them to play. If the dealer does not have a Queen high card, there is no action, and the wagers are paid 1 to 1.

There are two primary wagers in 3-Card poker, and those are the ante and the play bets. However, the game is exciting in that it offers additional winning chances with the Pair Plus bet and the 6-card bonus.


Credit: Nomini

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Three-Card Poker Gameplay

3-Card poker is effortless to play, as the game starts with all the players sitting at the poker table, placing their bets, and watching the action.

✅ Ante Bets

Before the players get their cards, they must place the ante bet – the mandatory bet that allows them to join the game. The ante bet means you play against the dealer and try to make the best three-card poker hand, and you don’t have to observe the other players or try to look for their poker tells.

✅ Dealing the Cards & Play Wager

After the ante bets, the dealer deals three face-down cards to each player and three face-down cards for the dealer. After the cards are dealt, each player can see their three cards and decide if they want to fold or play further. If they choose to play, they must place the play wager, which is equal to the ante bet.

The dealer needs to have a Queen high for their hand to qualify, and if their hand does not qualify, there are no further play wagers, and the ante wagers are paid 1 to 1. If the dealer has a qualifying hand, the game continues by comparing the hands. If the players’ hand wins, the ante and the play bets are paid 1 to 1, but if the player loses, they lose their bets. Any tie score in 3-Card poker goes to the player.

✅ Pair Plus Bet & Ante Bonus

The Pair Plus bet is optional in 3-Card poker, and this allows you to place a bet that your hand will have a pair or better, and to win this bet, your hand needs at least a pocket pair of twos. Because this is an optional bet, it is not conditioned by the dealer’s hand. The payouts for the Pair Plus bet are as follows:

  • Straight Flush – 40 to 1
  • Three-of-a-kind – 30 to 1
  • Straight – 6 to 1
  • Flush – 3 to 1
  • Pair – 1 to 1

The rules also state that if the player has a straight, a three-of-a-kind, or a straight flush, they will also win an ante bonus, and this bonus is not conditioned by winning the round, and the dealer’s hand qualifying does not condition it. The ante bonus comes with the following payout structure:

  • Straight Flush – 5 to 1
  • Three-of-a-kind – 4 to 1
  • Straight – 1 to 1

Some online casinos also have the six-card bonus, which is another optional bet that is not related to the winning hand or the dealer’s hand qualifying. Per the rules of this bet, you need to use your three cards and the dealers’ three cards to make the best traditional five-card poker handThe appeal of the Six-Card bonus is in the payout that most online casinos have in the following payout structure:

  • Royal Flush – 1000 to 1
  • Straight Flush – 200 to 1
  • Four of a Kind – 100 to 1
  • Full House – 20 to 1
  • Flush – 15 to 1
  • Straight – 9 to 1
  • Three-of-a-kind – 8 to 1

Three-Card Poker Hand Rankings

Because in 3-Card poker, both the players and the dealer get three cards each, the poker hands differ from the standard five-card poker hands. Here are the qualifying poker hand rankings:

Name Cards
Mini Royal Flush A, K, Q in the same suit
Straight Flush Three cards in the same suit in consecutive ranking, K, Q, J is the highest-ranking straight flush
Three-of-a-kind Three of the same card
Straight Three consecutive cards in different suits
Flush Three cards in the same suit
One pair Two same cards
High Card A card that is not connected to anything but is valued as the highest card in a hand

3-Card Poker Strategy & Tips

Unlike other poker variants, where you can apply an in-depth poker strategy and adjust it as the game progresses, there are limited options for strategizing in 3-Card poker. Still, you can apply some strategy, but the most important thing is to learn the rules of the game, and you should follow our poker tips that will help you make better decisions in 3-Card poker:

  • Place a play wager when you have a K or an A in your hand
  • Play the hands greater or equal to Q, 6, 4, as this is the average hand in 3-Card poker, and fold worse hands
  • Tend to play the Pair Plus bonus, as the payouts are excellent, and you stand to win a 6 to 1 payout if you have a straight.


Credit: Casinia

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What is the payout in 3-Card poker?

The regular payout in 3-Card poker is 1 to 1 for the ante and the play bets. The massive payouts come from the Pair Plus bet and the Six-card bonus, where the payouts go from 3 to 1 for a flush to 40 to 1 for a straight flush.

What hands should I play in 3-Card poker?

Ideally, it would be best if you played all the hands that are equal or better than Q, 6, 4, as this is the average-strength hand in 3-Card poker. Also, prefer to play any strong hand that has a poker pair or better, as you can win the Pair Plus bet easily.

Where can I play 3-Card poker online?

Three-Card poker gained a lot of popularity because of its fast pace, simple gameplay, and exciting additional betting options, so today, all reputable online casinos have a 3-Card poker in their offer. We tested and recommend you try the 3-Card poker tables at Nomini, Wazamba, KarambaCasinia, William Hill, 20Bet, or 1xBet.

How many players play 3-Card poker?

The 3-Card poker game can be played with two to eight players, as it is played with a single 52-card deck.

Is 3-Card poker similar to Teen Patti?

Teen Patti is a card game where the players get three cards each, but they play against each other, and the prize is the pot. On the other hand, 3-Card poker is a casino game where you play heads-up against the dealer, and the payout is 1 to 1 for the ante and play bets, while the additional bets come with significant multipliers.

What happens if I fold in 3-Card Poker?

If you fold in 3-Card poker, you will lose the ante bet. However, if you don’t fold, you will have to place the play bet and compare your hand to the dealer’s hand.

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