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Three Card Poker Basics

One of the more unique games in online gambling, three card poker is actually a relatively recent invention. First introduced to the
casino world back in 1994 by Derek Webb, three card poker was first played in the UK before having a patent granted for use
in America.

We've recommended the best online casinos for online three card poker.

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Everything You Need to Know

Three Card Poker Glossary

The premise behind the game is that the player and dealer are each dealt three cards and the best hand wins.

Before the deal, a player is required to make a bet which is known as a "play" wager. These bets are mandatory and form the basis for any subsequent payouts from the dealer. In addition to this bet a player can choose to bet additional money in the form of an "ante" and "pair plus" bet. The former is an extra bet which allows the player to fold their hand or continue by adding an amount equal to the "play" wager. A "pair plus" bet is a bet which pays out instantly if a player is dealt a pair by the dealer.

A quick breakdown:

1. The player makes an ‘’ante’’ and/or a ‘’pair plus’’ bet.

2. The dealer hands down three cards to each player and three cards for himself.

- The player may look at his own cards. However, the dealer's cards are dealt face down.

  • If an ‘’ante’’ bet is made, then the player must either fold or raise.
  • If the player folds, then he forfeits his ‘’ante’’ bet.
  • If the player raises, then an additional ‘’play’’ bet must be made that is equal to his ‘’ante’’ bet.

3. The dealer must then turn over his cards.

- The dealer requires a queen high or better to qualify.

  • If the dealer does not have these cards, then the player will win money on the ‘’ante’’ bet and the ‘’play’’ bet will push.
  • If the dealer qualifies, then the player's hand will be compared to the dealer's hand. The higher hand is the winner.
  • If the player has the higher poker hand, then the ‘’ante’’ and ‘’play’’ will both pay even money.
  • If the dealer has the higher poker hand, then the ‘’ante’’ and ‘’play’’ will both lose.
  • If the player and dealer are at a tie, then the ‘’ante’’ and ‘’play’’ bets will push.
  • If the player made the ‘’ante’’ bet and has a straight or higher, then, the player will receive an ‘’ante’’ Bonus.

4. The ‘’pair plus’’ bet will pay based on the poker value of the player's hand.

Hand Breakdown and Probabilities

Following the guidelines set out in a standard game of online poker (except for the value of straights and flushes being reversed), the ranking of hands is as follows: high card, pair, flush, straight, three of a kind, straight flush.

Hand Order Probability

Ace High or Less

70 % 75%


70 % 17%


70 % 5%


70 % 2%

Three of a Kind

70 % 0.5%

Straight Flush

70 % 0.5%

The Best Odds & Payouts

As already indicated, the most common bets in three card poker are the ‘’ante’’ bet and the ‘’pair plus’’ bet. Here are two payout tables taken from

Payouts for Pair Plus

Hand Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4
Pair 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1
Flush 3:1 4:1 4:1 4:1
Straight 6:1 5:1 6:1 6:1
Three-of-a-Kind 30:1 30:1 25:1 40:1
Straight Flush 40:1 40:1 40:1 40:1
Casino Edge 7.30% 5.57% 2.31% 3.49%

Ante Bonus Payouts

Hand Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4
Straight 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1
Three-of-a-Kind 2:1 3:1 3:1 4:1
Straight Flush 3:1 4:1 5:1 5:1
Casino Edge 4.30% 3.80% 3.60% 3.40%

If the dealer's hand fails to qualify then the online gambling site doesn't payout on the "play" wager but will pay at a ratio of 1-1 on the "ante" bet. Within the game there are various bonus bets which can be won and these pay anything from 1X the "ante" bet to 5X the "ante".

House Edge – Explained

The house edge is a term used to indicate the advantage that the gambling game has over the player. Over time, this will result in a percentage return to the gambling venue and a percentage loss of bets for the player.

The Best Sites for Online Play

The Best Sites for Online Play

Aside from an understand of online gambling, three card poker and the language that goes with it, you'll need to know the best places to play if you want to make some real money. Our top three card poker sites are all tested by our team of experts and certified as safe and secure.

Not only that, but thanks to a slew of bonuses and rewards, our best three card poker platforms are the perfect place for novices to boost their bankroll even if they aren't yet familiar with the game's subtleties.

With this in mind, check out our list of recommended three card poker sites and make your first deposit today.

Real Money v Free Play

If you’re a beginner, we suggest trying your luck at free play or demo games. Several casinos offer demo games to practice your skills and techniques before heading over to the big guns. Another advantage when playing for free is that you do not have to worry about losing any money. You can play with a peace of mind that this is purely just for entertainment purposes.

With real money comes great responsibility. Players should always be careful of how much they’re betting and not to over spend. Always remember to gamble responsibly and within your limits. With that in mind, playing for real cash is an exciting and enthralling adventure. With real money, you can get more bonuses and promotions which means that you can win more. The advantages are endless with real cash online gambling!

Top Strategies for Three Card Poker Players

Taking on the casino in a game of three card poker can be a profitable proposition if you follow an optimal strategy. The main strategic tenet is that a player should make a "play" wager with Q-6-4 or better. By following this you will ensure the greatest percentage chance of a return in the long run.

There are other strategies which you can follow to maximize your odds at winning at a game of three card poker. The below strategies are fairly straight forward for you to follow.

The Pair Plus Strategy: Make regular use of the ‘’pair plus’’ bet. However, wins and losses can be more volatile when you use this strategy. The odds will be against you but you’re going for bigger wins.

The Basic Betting Strategy: This is when you play the ‘’ante’’ ad the ‘’pair plus’’ bets for the same amounts. This could also be used when one of the ‘’ante’’ and ‘’pair plus’’ bets is double the amount of the other ‘’ante’’ and ‘’pair plus’’ bets. The best way to wager at a game of three card poker is to place 100% of your total bet on the ‘’ante’’. That is where the lowest house edge is.

The Bankroll Strategy: Decide on how much to bet on the ‘’pair plus’’ bet. Preserve your betting bank 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.


  • Why should I play three card poker?

    Three card poker is a fun game to play as a form of entertainment. It rising popularity is making it a well sought after game in the gambling industry.

  • Can I play on my mobile?

    Yes. Most casinos offer their online 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. One of the best strategies 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 online?

    Yes. Online gambling allows playing 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.

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