Three Card Poker is a casino stud-based card game played with a single deck of 52 cards. Find out the rules, house edge and how to win at this popular card game.
It is usually played on a table that can seat up to seven players, each of whom has three designated betting areas in front of them marked “Ante,” “Play,” and “Pair Plus.”
To start the game, players must place a bet in the Ante area, the Pair Plus area, or both.
The Ante bet is a wager against the dealer’s hand, while the Pair Plus bet is a wager on the strength of the player’s own hand.
Each player and the dealer are dealt three face-down cards. Players then have the option to make an additional wager, called the Play bet, that is equal to their Ante bet if they think their hand can beat the dealer’s. If they do not think their hand can win, they can push their cards forward along with their Ante bet to signify that they do not want to make the Play bet.
The dealer’s hand is then revealed, and they must have a hand of queen-high or better in order to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, the Ante bet pays out even money (1 to 1) and the Play bet is a push (neither player wins nor loses). If the dealer qualifies and the player’s hand is stronger, both the Ante and Play bets pay out 1 to 1. If the dealer qualifies and has a stronger hand than the player, both the Ante and Play bets lose. If the dealer qualifies and the player’s and dealer’s hands are tied, both the Ante and Play bets are a push.
The Ante Bonus
There is also an Ante Bonus feature in Three Card Poker, where certain hands always pay out on the Ante bet, regardless of the dealer’s hand. These hands include a straight flush, three of a kind, and a straight.
|Straight (3 in a sequence unsuited)||1 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||4 to 1|
|Straight Flush (3 in a sequence suited)||5 to 1|
How to Win a Pair Plus Bet
To win a Pair Plus bet in Three Card Poker, you must place a wager on the Pair Plus area of the table before the cards are dealt. This bet is separate from the main game, where you play against the dealer, and is based solely on the strength of your own hand. You do not have to beat the dealer’s hand in order to win the Pair Plus bet.
If you are only betting on the Pair Plus, you can place your cards face-down in the Play area if you have a winning hand, or simply fold if your hand does not have a pair or higher. The following hands are paid out on Pair Plus bets
|Pair (2 of the same kind)||1 to 1|
|Flush (3 of same suit)||4 to 1|
|Straight (3 in a sequence unsuited)||5 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||30 to 1|
|Straight Flush (3 in a sequence suited)||40 to 1|
6 Card Bonus
If you are playing a version of Three Card Poker that includes the Six-Card Bonus side bet, you may place an optional wager on the designated area of the table. To win the Six-Card Bonus, you must create the best five-card poker hand using your three cards and the dealer’s three cards. The payouts for the Six-Card Bonus are determined by a posted payout table.
On any hand other than those listed on the payout table, the Six-Card Bonus bet loses. It is separate from the main game and the Pair Plus bet, and is based solely on the strength of your six-card hand.
|Royal Flush||1,000 to 1|
|Straight Flush||200 to 1|
|4 of a Kind||50 to 1|
|Full House||25 to 1|
|Flush||15 to 1|
|Straight||10 to 1|
|3 of a Kind||5 to 1|
Rules To Remember & 3-Card Poker Tips
Here are some basic Three Card Poker rules to remember when creating your winning strategy during your next visit:
The following bets or combination of bets may be made for each hand:
- Bet Ante to play against the dealer
- Bet Pair Plus to play your hand only
- Bet Ante and Pair Plus to play both
The ranking of hands in Three Card Poker is different than that of five-card poker games. The order of combinations is as follows:
- Straight Flush
- Three of a Kind
- High Card
What is the casino “house edge” at 3-card poker?
As with any casino game, the odds in 3-card poker slightly favor the house – which has an edge of ~11.03% (vs perfect play). In fact, the exact odds are that the dealer wins 55.03% of the time, the player wins 44.91% of the time, and there’s a slight chance (0.6%) that there is a push (where the dealer and a player both have equal hands). With a push, the dealer returns the bets to the player.
Another key factor is whether the dealer’s hand qualifies or not. If the dealer doesn’t have a queen or better in their hand, the hand doesn’t qualify as playable. If the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify, the player’s ante wager pays 1:1 and the dealer returns their play and pair-plus wagers.
If the dealer does have a qualifying hand, they compare their hand to the player’s hands. While it’s possible to make money by simply beating the dealer, the bigger payouts often come from the pair-plus bet.