How to Play and Win at Online Three Card Poker

Three card poker is a fantastic little card game that anyone can quickly learn. It's loosely based on the more traditional Texas Hold'em game but has been dramatically simplified to play faster and is, therefore, a bit more enjoyable. As the name suggests, only three cards are involved in this game for both the player and the dealer, and only two main bets are available.

Sounds pretty good, right? It is! But how do you play three card poker, and what does winning entail? That's exactly what we'll be discussing in this article. Here you'll learn all about the three-card poker game, from the table itself to the bets and how much you'll get back when you win. We'll also look at how you can boost your chances of winning by playing this fun and simple card game.

Learn to play online three cards poker in a few steps

How to Play 3 Card Poker

Learning to play three card poker is very easy, with just a few basic rules involved. It's so easy that you could easily start playing the game and figure it out for yourself at the best online casino sites! However, it is worth making an effort to understand the rules beforehand, so you know what to expect.

Before we take you through the steps of placing bets and choosing actions, let's first take a closer look at the layout of the table itself, each of the main bets and the additional side bets you can try that add different ways of winning.

The Three Card Poker Table

Open a three-card poker game, and you'll typically be met by a semi-circular table, with the dealer on the flat side and you, the player, on the rounded side. On the player's side, you'll see three spaces for cards, which is where your cards will be dealt. The Three Card Poker logo is usually where the dealer's cards are dealt.

Between these two areas of the table is where you'll see the various bets you can place at the best US online casinos. These will always include the Ante and Play bets, but you may also see the side bets of Pair Plus and 6 Card Bonus here if they're available. Around these central areas of the table, you usually find details of the various payouts, which we'll get into a bit later. Other things you'll see at a three-card poker table include the various chip values for placing bets and Deal, Rebit, Undo and Clear buttons.

Three Card Poker Main Bets

You need to be aware of two main bets in three card poker to play the game. These are the Ante and Play bets. While you can place an Ante bet without a Play bet, you cannot place a Play bet without first establishing an Ante bet. We'll look at why next.

The Ante bet is essential for starting the game; you will not see any cards until you place this bet. The Ante Bonus offers additional payouts based on the Ante bet and the resulting hand, but only if you carry the round through to completion by placing a Play bet.

The Play bet is the action you'll take if you think your hand will beat the live casino dealers. Otherwise, you can choose to fold. The Play bet always takes the same value as the Ante bet. Placing the Play bet results in the dealer's hand is revealed, and the winner is decided.

Three Card Poker Side Bets

In addition to the main Ante and Play bets, there are two commonly found side bets that you can choose to play: Pair Plus and 6 Card Bonus. These are very simple bets that can be placed simultaneously as your Ante bet to give you extra winnings potentially. The Pair Plus bet allows you to get extra winnings if your three dealt cards form a pair or better, based on poker hand values. Even though there are only three cards, you can get a poker hand up to a Mini Royal, AKQ of the same suit for the maximum payout for this side bet.

While the Pair Plus side bet only considers your dealt cards, the 6 Card Bonus includes both your and the dealer's cards. The 6 Card Bonus pays if your three cards and the dealer's three cards make up a poker hand of three of a kind or better, up to a royal flush, which pays the maximum for this side bet.

Step by Step

Now that you're more familiar with the table layout, the two main bets and the two side bets, let's take you through a round of three-card poker step by step:

  1. Place your Ante bet: Select your chip value and click on the Ante position to place your bet;
  2. Place your side bets: If you want to, you can place one or both side bets at this point by choosing a chip value and clicking on the side bet position;
  3. Click Deal: Once you're happy with your bet(s), click on the Deal button to deal the cards;
  4. Check your hand: At this point, you have to decide if your hand is strong enough to beat the dealers. If you think it is, click the 1x button to place your Play bet (1x your Ante bet). If not, click Fold, which results in your Ante bet being lost, but your Pair Plus and 6 Card Bonus bets, if placed, will still stand;
  5. See who won!: Once you've clicked 1x or Fold, the dealer's cards will be revealed. Whoever has the highest value poker hand wins the main game, while the side bets are also settled.

Best ways to win a three card poker game

How to Win Three Card Poker

So now you know a bit more about what the three card poker table looks like, what the different bets are and what to expect from around; the next step is to learn how to win! We'll look at the various poker hand values and revisit the different bets, this time focusing on what determines a win in each case. That way, you'll have a better idea of what to look out for.

However, while it's important to know what a winning hand looks like, being aware of the various payouts is also essential, as that knowledge will help you decide how much to bet and give you an idea of what you can expect to get back if you do win.

Hands Available

In the three-card poker game, hand values are based on traditional poker hand values but with slight variations in places. Before we get into the different bets and how they are won, let's take a look at the poker hand values as they apply to three card poker, in order from smallest to largest:

  • High Card: If no other hand is made, the winner is the one holding the highest value card;
  • Pair: Two cards of the same value, e.g. two 2s;
  • Three of a kind: Three cards of the same value, e.g. three 2s;
  • Straight: Three (Pair Plus) or five (6 Card Bonus) consecutive cards, e.g. 2, 3, 4 or 2, 3, 4, 5, 6;
  • Flush: Three (Pair Plus) or five (6 Card Bonus) cards of the same suit, e.g. 2s, 3s, 6s or 2s, 5s, 9s, 7s, Js;
  • Full House: Five cards, one Pair and three of a kind, e.g. two 2s and three 5s (6 Card Bonus only);
  • Four of a kind: Four cards of the same value, e.g. four 2s (6 Card Bonus only);
  • Straight Flush: Three (Pair Plus) or five (6 Card Bonus) suited and consecutive cards, e.g. 2s, 3s, 4s or 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s;
  • Mini Royal: Three cards of A, K, Q (a three-card royal flush, Pair Plus only);
  • Royal Flush: Five highest value cards in order, e.g. 10d, Jd, Qd, Kd, Ad.

As you can see, some of these hands only apply to some bets, but this will become clearer in the next section.

Bets of This Game

To help clarify the poker hands and when they apply, let's now look at the four different bets again in terms of what results in a win in each case.

  • Ante bet win: For the Ante bet to win, you need to have a higher value hand than the dealers;
  • Play bet win: For the Play bet to win, you need to beat the dealer's hand, just like for the Ante bet;
  • Pair Plus win: For the Pair Plus bet to win, your three dealt cards must make up a poker hand of a pair or better (i.e. Pair, Flush, Straight, Three of a kind, Straight Flush or Mini Royal);
  • 6 Card Bonus win: For the 6 Card Bonus bet to win, your three cards and the dealer's three cards must make up a poker hand of Three of a kind or better (i.e. Three of a kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a kind, Straight Flush or Royal Flush).

Payouts of Three Card Poker

So how much do you get if you win playing three card poker? That depends on which bets win and what your hand is. Let's check out the chances again, this time with their corresponding payouts:

  • Ante bet wins payout: 1:1 (draw is a push, i.e. you get your bet back). If you get a Straight, Three of a kind or a Straight Flush as your three dealt cards; you get 1:1, 4:1 or 5:1, respectively on top (only if you continue with Play bet);
  • Play bet win payout: 1:1 (draw is a push if the dealer does not qualify (Q high or better), it's also a push);
  • Pair Plus win payout
    • Pair: 1:1;
    • Flush: 3:1;
    • Straight: 6:1;
    • Three of a kind: 30:1;
    • Straight Flush: 40:1;
    • Mini Royal: 200:1.
  • 6 Card Bonus win payout
    • Three of a kind: 5:1;
    • Straight: 10:1;
    • Flush: 20:1;
    • Full House: 25:1;
    • Four of a kind: 50:1;
    • Straight Flush: 200:1;
    • Royal Flush: 1,000:1.

Strategies to win a 3 cards poker game

Three Card Poker Strategies

What about strategies for three card poker? Is there any way you can improve your chances of winning? In short, not really, since there's very little interaction between you and the game. But there are still two main points at which you have some control element, meaning there is some influence to be had. These are the points at which you decide to play or fold and whether to place those side bets or not.

With this in mind, let's look at three main tips for the best chances of winning playing three-card poker.

Hands to Play

Perhaps the best advice for playing three card poker is to take a close look at the hand you have been dealt and only go for that Play bet if you have Q, 6, 4 or better. Why? When it comes to the Play bet, you will only win if the dealer qualifies AND your hand beats the dealer. If you draw or the dealer doesn't qualify, you only get your bet back, so to maximise your chances of winning, make sure your cards are high. It is stated in the game that the highest RTP (97.99%) is gained by playing in this way.

Side Bets

The side bets don't have as attractive an RTP as does playing the main game as described above, but they offer you the opportunity to win more than 5:1, which is the maximum in the base game. They are fun to try for that reason (who doesn't want to win a 1,000:1 payout?), but maybe not every round. Use with caution.

Do You Want to Play Three Card Poker?

Are you interested in giving this fun card game a shot? Join one of the carefully reviewed online casinos featured on this site, make your first deposit, and then start playing three card poker!

How do you play three card poker?

Players place an ante or pair plus bet, aiming to have a better hand or pair than the dealer. Three cards are dealt to the dealer and player, face down. The player places another bet on their current hand, or folds. If they have a better hand than the dealer, they win the round.

What is the best hand in three card poker?

The best hand in three card poker is an ace, king, and a jack. Basic strategy for the game suggests that if a player has a Queen-high or anything better, then they should play. If they have less than this, it's generally advised to fold.

Can I play three card poker for real money?

Yes, there are many online casinos that offer real money three card poker games. Simply select the one you like the most with the best selection of table games.

Giuseppe Faraone
Author Giuseppe Faraone verified symbol
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Based in Valencia, Spain, Giuseppe gave up Milan for sunny shores. New licenses, new casinos, new bonuses, new games - there's always something to write about. Being so close to the action in the gambling industry, he's on top of any new developments the minute they come through the door. Aiming to deliver updates and comprehensive information to you, he does his best to test out and rate what he reviews thoroughly. Giuseppe is also a book writer. In October 2022, he published his first book called The Untold Story of Online Gambling, available on Amazon.

Reviewed by Julia Attard

Senior Author With experience in content management, Julia is passionate about creating content for the English-speaking gaming markets of CasinoTopsOnline. When she isn’t working, you’ll find Julia reading a book on the beach, watching sports or baking something in the kitchen! Read More
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