How To Play 3 Card Poker
There are many different games to play at the casino; some require luck while others are heavily reliant on strategy. Poker involves a mix of both, which is why it has grown into one of the most popular games at online and traditional establishments. Poker has evolved over the years and spawned many different variations; 3 Card Poker is one of the simpler and faster versions to play and is available at almost all casinos.
What Is 3 Card Poker?
3 Card Poker can trace its origins back to 1994 when a man by the name of Derek Webb sought to create a version of poker that could match the speed and enjoyment of other table games. Patented in 1997, the game received mixed results when it was first unveiled to the public. Still, it has since gone in to be a beloved mainstay in most casinos. Unlike other forms of poker, the player is only dealt three cards and plays against the dealer.
3 Card Poker Hand Rankings
Unlike most other forms of poker, 3 Card Poker only has six possible hands. From lowest to highest they are:
High Card: No card combinations. The highest-ranked card determines the strength of the hand.
Example: Ace High – 3, 4 Ace.
Pair: Two cards of the same denomination.
Example: Pair of Queens – Queen, Queen, 9.
Flush: Three cards of the same suit, diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs. It doesn’t have to be in the correct sequential order; the suit is the only thing that matters in a flush.
Example: Heart Flush – 9 of hearts, 3 of hearts, 7 of hearts.
Straight: Three cards in sequential order, suits don’t matter. Ace can be used as 1 in a low straight, and as the end of a high straight, it’s the only card that is used both high and low.
Example: High Straight – Queen, King, Ace.
Three Of A Kind: Three cards of the same rank, the suits don’t matter.
Example: King, King, King.
Straight Flush: Three cards in sequential order that are also the same suit.
Example: Jack of clubs, Queen of clubs, King of clubs.
3 Card Poker Rules
To win 3 Card Poker, the player has to have a better three-card hand combination than the dealer. The cards are ranked from lowest starting at 2 and the highest ending with Ace. They are in order from lowest to highest 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace.
To start, players place a wager called an ante, then they receive three cards. At this point, there is an option to fold and restart the round, forfeiting the ante, or keep playing and calling which requires another play equal to the original ante.
If play continues, the dealer and the player show their cards; whoever has the highest-ranked poker hand wins. The dealer automatically folds if their hand isn't a Queen High or better. Payouts are 1:1, meaning if you play 50, you win another 50. In the event of a tie, then nothing happens and the game restarts.
Most casinos will also offer additional options other than the ante. The most common is wagering on having a pair or higher, known as the Pair Plus bet. The only requirement to win the wager is to have a pair or better; it doesn't matter if the dealer wins the overall game with a higher-ranked hand. There can also be a bonus ante payment if you achieve certain card combinations. However, keep in mind that if you make all available plays, and lose, your chip stack can disappear very quickly.
3 Card Poker Pay Table
Pair Plus Payouts
Straight Flush – 40 to 1
Three of a Kind – 30 to 1
Straight – 6 to 1
Flush – 3 to 1
Pair – 1 to 1
Ante Bonus Payouts
Straight Flush – 5 to 1
Three of a Kind – 4 to 1
Straight – 1 to 1
3 Card Poker Strategies
3 Card Poker doesn't have bluffing or other deception-based tactics common to many poker variations. However, there are still several strategies available to players that can increase the odds of coming out with more wins than losses.
Avoid Unnecessary Plays
The Pair Plus bet may seem like a good idea, and the payouts can be quite tempting, however it also increases the house edge by nearly 3 per cent. The house edge is the mathematical advantage the casino has over the player, which results in an assured percentage that the casino will win over time. 3 Card Poker has a relatively small house edge that starts at 3.3% per cent, and playing on a Pair Plus raises the house edge to almost 6 per cent. Ultimately, players are free to play however they choose; if you are happy to weaken your odds to increase your possible payout, go right ahead, just be aware of the numbers.
Don't play weak cards
Anything below a pair is not worth playing. As a minimum, only play hands higher than Queen, 6, 4 and fold everything else.
Learn the Rules
It sounds simple and obvious… because it is. Understand the game before you start playing, learn the different hand rankings, what the Ante bet, and Pair Plus are. Knowing the rules isn't essential to play, but it does increase the odds of success, and that’s what it’s all about!
Practice Online First
Most online casinos offer free to play 3 Card Poker providing chances to practice and enjoy the game without the pressure of wagering real funds.
Have a Fixed Limit
Set an amount you're willing to play with and stick to it, no matter what. If you start chasing losses or go over your set amount, walk away and come back another day.
Why Do Most Players Like 3 Card Poker?
3 Card Poker had a bit of a rough start when it first debuted at a casino, the reception was lukewarm at best, but it has since gone on to be one of the most popular table games at gaming venues.
Everyone has their own reasons for enjoying the poker variant, the vast majority of people though can attribute their fondness for the game to one of the following.
Easy to Learn
3 Card Poker is easy to learn and allows all players with different skill levels to play and have fun without fear of being out of their depth.
Variety of Strategies
Strategy plays a more significant role in 3 Card Poker than most of its other counterparts which rely heavily on luck. A clever player can increase their chances of success with the right strategy and hand selection.
Variety of Play Options
3 Card Poker offers a wide range of playing options. Depending on the version being played, nearly every game will have the standard Ante and Pair Plus bets, but some will offer extra side wagers with other stipulations.
Free to Play Options
There are options to play online for real or test out your skills and play for free. Keep in mind though that the free to play versions of the game are strictly for fun, no winnings can be redeemed.
Most online casinos offer 3 Card Poker games that can be played anywhere, at any time, if you have access to a reliable internet connection. It doesn't matter if you are in the middle of nowhere, or at a dinner with the in-laws, you can play. Many sites will also offer bonuses and incentives to play certain game types.