The Best Real Money Three Card Poker Casinos

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How to Play Three Card Poker

Like stud poker, 3 card poker requires players to make ante bets and create the highest hand at the table. With fewer cards in a hand, three card poker is faster than regular poker games. The rules are simple to learn; just follow these steps:

  • 1

    Make a play wager.

    Before any cards are dealt, players must make a play bet. This wager forms the basis for any subsequent payouts from the dealer.

  • 2

    Wager an ante or pair plus bet.

    This is an optional bet for players in that gives them some form of insurance in the game, as discussed later in this guide.

  • 3

    Look at your cards.

    The dealer will hand three cards to each player face down, and then three cards to themselves. Players can look at their own cards, but the dealer's cards are face down.

  • 4

    Play through ante bets.

    If a player has made an ante bet, they must either fold or raise. If the player folds, then they forfeit their ante bet. If they raise, they add an additional 'play' bet that is an equal amount to their ante wager.

  • 5

    The dealer turns over their cards.

    Players then compare their hands against the dealer, who needs a queen high or better to qualify.

  • 6

    Compare hands:

    If the dealer does not have these cards, players win their ante bets and play bets become a push. But if the dealer does qualify, then compare hands. If the player has the highest hand, they get even money on their ante and play bets. If the dealer wins, the player loses both bets. If there is a tie, then the ante and play bets will push.

Pro tip

Because there are fewer cards, the hand hierarchy and payout odds in three card poker differ from other poker games. Learn the three card poker hands to avoid making any costly mistakes when playing for real money.

Three Card Poker Rules

There are two basic ways to play three card poker: ante play and pair plus bets. Depending on a player's hand, ante bets and pair plus bets have specific rules players are required to follow.

Ante Bet

When someone mentions 'ante poker' they mean a mandatory bet in which all players wager an equal amount of money or chips before any cards are dealt. Players add their ante wagers in the ante space before seeing their cards. If a player wants to stay in the game after seeing their cards, they must place a play bet equal to the ante in the play space. Ante bets play out in one of four ways in three card poker:

  1. If the dealer's hand doesn't contain a queen, the player will receive even money on their ante bet and the play bet is returned.
  2. If the dealer's hand does have a queen, the player receives even money on both the ante and play bets if they have the higher hand. If they have the lower hand, the player loses both bets.
  3. When the player and dealer tie, both ante bets and play bets push.

If a player makes the ante bet and has a straight or higher, then the player will receive an ante bonus.

Pair Plus Bet

This bet is even simpler than the ante bet. Essentially, players make a wager on being dealt a pair. If the player receives a pair in the three cards dealt to them they win, even if the dealer beats the player's hand in the ante game. If the player isn't dealt a pair, they lose their pair plus bet.

Ante play is the most common bet in 3 card poker and is made against the dealer. Conversely, a pair plus bet is a wager made on yourself.

Three Card Poker Hands

As mentioned earlier, card rankings and odds differ in 3 card poker because of the smaller hand. Full house and four of a kind hands don't exist, and straights outrank flushes because they are rarer. These are the total hand rankings in three card poker, from highest to lowest:

AD KD QD

Straight Flush:

Three consecutive cards of the same suit.

9S 9C 9H

Three of a Kind:

Three cards of the same value if different suits.

10D 9H 8C

Straight:

Three cards of consecutive value of any suit.

KH JH 3H

Flush:

Any three cards of the same suit.

QC 2S 2C

Pair:

Two cards of the same value of different suits.

KH 10D 8C

High Card:

None of the cards are related to each other.

Three Card Poker Odds & Payouts

When playing three card poker online or in land-based casinos, the paytables can vary. However, players can find this information on a 3 card poker game's information page on online casinos. To give players a general idea of what they can expect to win, we've created tables featuring the most common three card poker payout odds and hand combinations.

Three Card Poker Odds

Hand Combinations Odds of Being Dealt that Hand
AD KD QD
Straight Flush
48 0.2%
9S 9C 9H
Three of a Kind
52 0.2%
10D 9H 8C
Straight
720 3.3%
KH JH 3H
Flush
1096 5%
QC 2S 2C
Pair
3744 16.9%
KH 10D 8C
High Card
16440 74.4%
Drag table

Three Card Poker Payout Odds

Hand Combination Ante Bonus Pays Pair Plus Bet Pays
AD KD QD
Straight Flush
5:1 40:1
9S 9C 9H
Three of a Kind
4:1 30:1
10D 9H 8C
Straight
1:1 6:1
KH JH 3H
Flush
0 4:1
QC 2S 2C
Pair
0 1:1
KH 10D 8C
High Card
0 0
Drag table
Pro tip

In three card poker the player has a 44.91% chance to win and 0.06% to draw. Combined with its low house edge, these factors explain why this poker game is so popular.

Free Three Card Poker Games

For those that have never played three card poker, free games are a great way to test your knowledge and improve your betting strategy. The betting style and hand values in three card poker require time and practice to familiarize yourself with them. Free games enable players to learn the ropes to three card poker without any risk to your bankroll.

Play Three Card Poker Online for Real Money

Once you know the rules and bets, you're ready to play three card poker for real money. This easy and entertaining poker game requires skill and strategy. Players must know the odds for their hands and the potential payouts for their bets, to give themselves the best chance of winning the money in the pot.

Three Card Poker Strategy

While there's no secret formula to knowing how to win at three card poker in every game, players can try the following simple strategies next time they're at the poker table:

  • 1

    Q-6-4 Strategy:

    Statistically, this is the best three card poker strategy. Players make ante and pair plus bets every time, and only raise on a hand better than Q-6-4. Using this strategy, the house edge is only 3.37%.

  • 2

    The Pair Plus Strategy:

    Making pair plus bets every round means wins and losses are highly volatile with this strategy. The odds will be against you, but the rewards will be bigger.

  • 3

    The Basic Betting Strategy:

    Players make ante and pair plus bets for the same amounts. This could also be used when one of the bets is double the amount of the other bet.

  • 4

    The Bankroll Strategy:

    Decide how much to bet on the pair plus bet. Preserve your bankroll for as long as possible because with more money, comes more games and more winning chances. Keep record of how much you've won and lost.

  • 5

    Ante Bet Strategy:

    Ante bets have the lowest house edge (3.37%), so some players will choose to only make these bets during a three card poker session.

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Glossary

While 3 card poker uses less jargon than other casino card games, players might still come across a random term. Here are some common poker expressions to learn when playing three card poker online:

  • Ante Bonus A player receives this bonus payout if they are dealt a straight, flush, or straight flush.
  • Bankroll This is the total amount of money a player has set aside as their betting funds in a poker game.
  • Fish A rude term that refers to a new or inexperienced player. This term is used more often in regular poker games.
  • House Edge This term denotes the statistical advantage a casino has over a player in a game. It is usually written as a percentage and represents the amount of money a casino wins from a player over time.
  • Pay Table Usually found on the poker table itself or on the information page, a pay table tells players the specific payouts for each bet in the game.
  • Prime Side Bet This side bet allows players to wager on their cards all matching the same color, and pays out at 3:1 if it lands.
  • Qualifying Hand For the dealer to stay in the game, they must at least have a queen high hand.
  • Random Number Generator (RNG) Online casinos use this software to recreate the randomness and fair gameplay of shuffling card decks that is usually found in three card poker games in land-based casinos.
  • Shoe This is a wooden or plastic container where cards are stored once the dealer has shuffled them.
  • Six Card Bonus Some casinos offer this side bet in three card poker. Players use their cards and the dealer's cards to create the best hand. The bet only pays out if the player lands at least a three of a kind.

FAQs

  • What is a straight flush in three card poker?

    Given the limited cards used, three card poker hands differ from the usual poker hand hierarchy. For instance, a straight flush in three card poker is three consecutive cards of the same suit, i.e. four, five, and six of hearts.

  • How to beat three card poker?

    To win in three card poker, players must beat the dealer by having the higher hand. One of the most common strategies for this is the Q-6-4 strategy. Players make ante and pair plus bets with this strategy, and only raise if their hand value is higher than queen, six, and four.

  • How to deal three card poker?

    Before any cards are dealt, players must place their bets on the table. The dealer will then deal each player three cards. The dealer can start on their left- or right-hand side, this depends entirely on the casino's house rules. Players will then look at their cards and decide whether to make any additional bets. When betting has finished, the dealer will place their three cards face down, and then turn them one by one and announce the hand.

  • How to win in three card poker?

    In three card poker, a player's chances of winning partially depends on the dealer qualifying. The dealer's hand must be queen high minimum to qualify. If it isn't, players win and their ante bets are returned, and play bets become a push. When the dealer does qualify though, players can only win by having the highest hand in the game.

  • What is pair plus in three card poker?

    A pair plus is a bet players make in three card poker. Essentially, the player bets that they will be dealt a pair. The chances of getting a pair in three card poker is 16.9%, but the payouts for pair plus bets can be big. Payouts range from even money for pairs to 40:1 for straight flushes, which explains why this bet is popular among players.

  • Is three card poker worth playing?

    Three card poker is a fun game to play as a form of entertainment. It has a low house edge compared to other casino table or card games, and the smaller hand makes it easier for new poker players to learn and play.

  • Can I play three card poker on my mobile?

    Yes. Most casinos offer their online three card poker games on their mobile platform. We've reviewed and tested online sites that offer the best versions of three card poker that are compatible for your mobile and tablet screens.

  • What is the house edge in three card poker?

    The house edge in online three card poker is 3.37% on the ante bet and 7.28% on the pair plus bet. If a player bets both equally, the average house edge is of 5.325%.

  • What's the best three card poker strategy to use?

    There are various strategies to use when playing three card poker. Statistically, the best strategy to use is make a play wager with Q-6-4 or better. You will ensure the greatest percentage chance of a return in the long run.

  • Can I win real money playing three card poker online?

    Yes. Online gambling sites allow bettors to play three card poker for real money and this will, in turn, direct you to multiple bonuses and promotions that will get you in the chance to win more cash.