Three Card Poker

Rules For 3 Card Poker At A Casino

Three card poker is a relatively new casino game, invented by a British man in 1994. The game was initially given a trial run in Las Vegas and soon proved to be very popular. Now, three card poker is one of the most well-loved casino games around, and has become a standard offering in both land based and online casinos.

In this guide you’ll learn what makes three card poker so attractive to players, what the game entails and the basic rules of play.

Why Players Love Three Card Poker

Three card poker has many advantages over more traditional games, and there are several reasons why it’s so appealing:

  • It’s easy to learn how to play
  • It’s fast-paced
  • It boasts a moderate house edge and offers big payouts
  • Offers up to 40x your wager
  • You can improve your results by learning basic strategy

Three Card Poker Game Layout

Three card poker is played with a single deck of cards, which are shuffled on every hand. In a brick and mortar casino, the cards are usually shuffled by an automatic machine and the game is played on a standard, seven-player table.

A three card poker table layout includes:

  • Three card shaped spaced for the dealer to place his cards
  • A diamond shaped space market ‘Ante’
  • A card shaped pace marked ‘Play’
  • A circular spot marked ‘Pair Plus’
  • Pay tables for the Pair Plus bet and for ante bonus payouts
  • A notice which states the minimum and maximum bet

Rules For Casino 3 Card Poker

In three card poker there are two basic ways to play; Ante-play and Pair Plus play. Some table may also offer additional side bets, but in this guide we’re going to focus on the standard, basic gameplay. Here is a step-by-step walk through of how the game will unfold:

  1. The player must make an ante bet (by placing their wager in the diamond shape marked ‘ante’), or a pair plus bet (by placing their wager on the circular spot marked ‘pair plus).
  2. The dealer then gives each player and themselves three cards. The dealer’s cards are placed face down, but players can examine their own cards.
  3. If you are playing with a ‘Pair Plus’ bet, there is nothing more to do now. However, if you are playing an ante-bet, you must now decide whether to fold or raise. Folding forfeits your wager, whilst raising means you must make an additional play bet which is equal to your original wager.
  4. The dealer then shows his cards and must reveal a queen-high hand to qualify.
  5. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, you win even money on the original ante wager and the play bet is pushed.
  6. If the dealer does qualify, your hands are then compared and the best hand wins.
  7. If you have the better hand, you win even money on the original ante wager and the play bet.
  8. If the dealer has the better hand, you lose both bets.
  9. In the case of a tie, both bets are pushed.
  10. If you have a straight or better, you receive the ante bonus (regardless of the value of the dealer’s hand).

Poker Rules At Casino – The Ranking Of Hands

Three card poker is based on regular poker, but the odds are slightly different as the hands only consist of three cards. Due to the odds being different, the hand rankings are slightly different to standard five-card play.

Here is how hands are ranked in three card poker, from best to worst:

Hand Name Description Probability
Straight flush Three suited cards in sequence 0.22%
Three of a kind Three cards of same rank 0.24%
Straight Three cards in sequence 3.26%
Flush Three suited cards 4.96%
Pair Two cards of same rank 16.94%
High card None of the above 74.39%

As you can see from the table above, straights outrank flushes in three card poker, which is a noticeable difference from other versions of poker. This is because in three card poker, they are rarer.

Moreover, as the game is played with three cards there is, of course, no such thing as a full house in three card poker, nor can you achieve a four of a kind hand.

Rules For Casino Poker – Settling Ante-Play Wagers

If you are playing the ‘ante-play’ rules in three card poker, once you’ve assessed your cards you are giving the option of folding or playing on. To play on you must place another wager, equal to the first ante bet. On the other hand, if you decide to fold, the dealer takes away your ante and clears your cards.

Once all players have decided whether they are playing or folding, the dealer reveals his cards. If the dealer’s hand is queen-high or better, the dealer can play on. This means all ante and play bets are in action. In order to win, your hand must outrank the dealers. If you do win, you are paid even money on both your ante and play wagers, however if you lose the dealer takes both bets.

If the dealer does not qualify, the dealer cannot play on. In his scenario, ante bets are paid out at even money and play bets are not put into action, meaning they are returned to you. Here are a few examples of how a hand could play out:

Dealer’s Hand Player’s Hand Result
Queen of Hearts, 8 of Spades, 6 of Diamonds 7 of Diamonds, 8 of Diamonds, 9 of Diamonds Dealer qualifies, but player has higher ranking hand and therefore wins equal money on both ante and play bets.


10 of Spades, 7 of Diamonds, 3 of Clubs 5 of Hearts, Queen of Clubs, 9 of Spades Dealer does not qualify, player takes even money on ante bet, and play bet is returned.
4 of Spades, 4 of Diamonds, Jack of Spades King of Clubs, 5 of Spades, 8 of Hearts Dealer qualifies and has the higher ranking hand. Dealer takes both ante and play bet.

Settling Pair Plus Wagers

As you may have noticed in the step-by-step gameplay guide above, there isn’t much to do if you’re playing the Pair Plus version of the game. This is because a pair plus wager is not in competition with the dealer’s hand.

A pair plus bet is won with a pair hand or better, and lost if the hand contains less than a pair. This is where it gets its name from!

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