Beginner’s guide to playing 3 Card Poker


Published by CasinoTopsOnline on April 01, 2016 in Casino Tips

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Three Card Poker has a long history, and while the rights for this popular card game have changed hands often throughout its existence, it was originally called Casino Brag. 

Inspired by 3-Card Brag, Three Card Poker was created by adapting the original game to allow casino players to bet against the house and not each other. The game was created in the mid 1990’s by Derek Webb in England who later sold the rights to Shuffle Master.

Later renamed SHFL Entertainment, Inc, Shuffle Master aimed to put their own mark on the game by trademarking the Pair Plus side bet in 2012.

Cards and winning hands

Also known as Tri Poker, Three Card Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck where there are two betting types available to choose from. 

In order for the player’s dealt hand to beat that of the dealer’s or to qualify as a winning hand, the hand must be ranked. 

From highest to lowest, the hands of Three Card Poker rank as the following:

Straight Flush – Three cards all with the same suit in consecutive order.

Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value or rank. Higher ranks beat lower ranks.

Straight – Three cards with mixed suits in consecutive order. The Ace card can count as either a low card or a high card with the highest ranking hand being Ace – King – Queen.

Flush – Three cards of the same suit in no particular order.

Pair –Two of the three cards in the hand must be of the same value or rank.

High Card – When none of the above hands are dealt for any of the players, the player with the highest card in their hand is the winner. If two players have the same high card, the middle and lowest cards can then be considered.

Note: No suit is ranked higher than another. If players are dealt cards with the same value, but different suits, the game is tied.

Bet types

The first round of betting is done before any cards have been seen. The player can choose to bet on one, both or neither of the betting types. 

Ante and Play – This is a bet that the player’s dealt hand will beat the dealer’s hand.

Pair Plus – Paid separately of what the dealer is dealt, this bet is placed based on the quality of the player’s hand.

The Pair Plus side bet has always been a part of the game’s rules, but has only been a registered trademark since 2012 after being registered by SHFL Entertainment, Inc.

Based solely on the cards dealt to the player, this side bet is only paid out on hands containing a pair or better. The following winning hands are paid accordingly:

Pair – Even money winnings

Flush – 4 to 1 payout

Straight – 6 to 1 payout

Three of a Kind – 30 to 1 payout

Straight Flush – 40 to 1 payout

How to play 3 Card Poker

Once each player has paid the ante and all are satisfied with their bets, three cards are dealt to each player and then to the dealer. Once the player has viewed his cards, the next action must be taken.

One of two actions can be taken and from there the game can either continue or end.

Option 1: After viewing the hand dealt, players can choose to place an additional bet (which must be equal to the ante). 

Option 2: The player can also choose to fold the hand, ending their participation in the game. Folding the hand means losing the initial ante bet and any Pair Plus bet placed.

Once the dealer’s hand has been revealed, a showdown ensues. There are four different outcomes that can take place wherein the player either wins, loses, or receives their initial bet back.

  1. If the dealer’s hand does not contain a Queen high card or better, the player is paid out even money and receives their ante bet back.
  2. If the dealer’s hand does contain a Queen high card or better, but the player’s hand is better still, the ante bet and play bet are paid even money.
  3. If the dealer has a Queen high card or better in their hand and the player’s hand is equal to it, the player’s ante bets and play bets are returned.
  4. If the dealer has a Queen high card or better in their hand and beats the player’s hand, the player loses and receives nothing. All bets are lost.

Additionally, a strong hand is paid a bonus regardless of whether or not the dealer’s hand beats that of the player’s. 

Straight – Even money bonus

Three of a Kind – 4 to 1 bonus

Straight Flush – 5 to 1 bonus

Easy to learn and fun to play, Three Card Poker is perfect for both new and experienced players of all kinds!

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