Three card poker is one of the most popular newly-developed casino games, allowing players to compete directly against the dealer with simple rules and some skilful strategy. Online casinos now offer entertaining 3CP side bets unavailable at land-based casinos, as well as better odds and payouts, and a stunning live dealer platform which hosts three card poker games for low and high stakes players.
The object of Three Card Poker is to make the best possible poker hand out of three cards that are dealt to the player at the beginning of each hand. The game is played with a single, standard deck of playing cards.
A hand of Three Card Poker begins with each player making one or both of two bets that are offered. These bets are known as the ante bet and the Pairs Plus bet, and are resolved independently of each other. Most players at a Three Card Poker table will make both bets, but this is by no means required.
After each player has made their bets, the dealer will give each player three cards, face down. The dealer will also receive a face down hand. Each player may then examine their own cards.
If a player has made the ante bet, they now have a choice to make. If the player wishes to continue playing their hand, they must make a “play” wager that is equal in size to their initial ante bet. If the player does not like their hand, they may fold instead, forfeiting both their hand and their ante bet.
After each player has made their decision on how to play their hand, the dealer’s hand is revealed. The dealer must have a queen-high hand or better in order to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, all players win even money on their ante bet, and push their play bets.
If the dealer does qualify, the player must beat the dealer hand in order to win. The hand rankings in Three Card Poker hands are ranked as follows, from best to worst:
Note that, unlike in most forms of poker, a straight beats a flush, and that three of a kind ranks above both of these hands.
If a player does beat the dealer, they will receive even money on both their ante and play bets. If the dealer beats the player, the player loses both of these bets.
However, regardless of the dealer’s hand, the player can win an ante bonus for a hand of a straight or better. This bonus is paid even if the player loses to an even stronger dealer hand. The most common ante bonus pay table is as follows:
The dealer will also resolve the PairPlus bets as player hands are revealed. The results of the PairPlus bet are determined only based on the strength of the player’s hand, with the dealer hand having no impact whatsoever. If the player’s hand is a pair or better, the PairPlus bet pays out based on the following pay table (which may vary between casinos):
In addition, some Three Card Poker games include a progressive side bet that will pay out if the player makes a “mini-royal,” or ace/king/queen, in spades. However, these progressive jackpots tend to be smaller and less common than those found at Caribbean Stud Poker tables.
Three Card Poker is a standard game in almost all online casino lineups, making it an easy game to find. Real Money online Three Card Poker generally uses the same rules as we’ve outlined here, though some of the names of bets (and even the name of the game itself) might be altered slightly for legal purposes.
Our favourite real money online Three Card Poker game is offered by Bodog Casino. This game – known as Tri Card Poker at Bodog – is not only easy to play, but offers the best pay tables you’ll find anywhere on both the Ante Bonus and PairPlus bets.
Three Card Poker strategy is rather simple. If you would like to play optimally, you should raise only with hands of Q64 or better, including all pairs or higher. This strategy will limit the house edge as much as possible, regardless of the pay tables being used. If you want an even simpler strategy, you can copy what the dealer does and just raise any time you have queen-high or better; this will raise the house edge by less than 0.1%.
There is no strategy required to play the PairPlus bet; however, you may wish to read the following section on odds to see if your Three Card Poker game has a PairPlus wager you’ll want to make.
The most common ante bonus pay table carries a house edge of 3.37%, which is about average for a casino table game. The PairPlus bet is a little trickier to analyse, since the payouts vary a lot more from casino to casino. The pay table we mentioned earlier in this article has a house edge of 2.32%, making it an excellent bet for Three Card Poker fans. However, most casinos offer 5-1 on a straight rather than 6-1, which raises the house edge to 5.57%. If you’re looking for the better pay table, we recommend Bodog Casino, which offers the full 6-1 on straights.
Here are a few more facts about Three Card Poker odds: