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How to Play Three Card Poker

15 September, 2016 | 9:01 от Aleksandra


Three Card Poker is without a doubt one of the most successful new table games in recent years.

The thrust of Three Card Poker is, let’s say, the player against the dealer and the higher hand wins. The way it begins is the player makes an ante wager and an optional pair plus wager. Let’s start with the ante wager first.

After the player makes his ante wager, the dealer will give the player three cards and himself three cards faced down. The player may look at his own three cards and then he must make a decision. He either has to raise his bet or fold. If the player chooses to raise, the raise bet must be equal to the ante wager. After the decision has been made, the dealer will turn over his cards. The dealer needs a queen high or better to open. Otherwise, it will be as if the dealer folded and the player will win the ante wager only. If the dealer does open, then it will be a showdown. Player’s hand against the dealer’s hand, the higher hand wins. If the player has the higher hand, then the both, the ante and the raise will pay even money. If the dealer has the higher hand, they both lose and in the unlikely event they are both exactly the same; it will be a push.

Next, let’s talk about the pair plus wager. This is a side bet that pays based only on the poker value of the player’s hand. Doesn’t make any difference what the dealer has. The pair+ bet pays anywhere from even money for a pair up to 40-to-1 for a straight flush. The common pay table for the pair+ looks like this:

Pair Plus Pays

  • Straight Flush 40 to 1
  • Three-of-a-Kind 30 to 1
  • Straight 6 to 1
  • Flush 3 to 1
  • Pair 1 to 1 (even money)

Some casinos have a more liberal pay table, but unfortunately, you don’t see that very often anymore.

The house advantage on the ante bet is 3.37%. That means that for every dollar the player bets, he can expect to lose 3.37 cents. The house advantage on the pair plus bet, assuming the usual paytable, is 7.28%. If you are fortunate enough to be in a casino that has the liberal pay table, that lowers the house advantage on the pair plus to 2.32%.

Finally, there is something called an ante bonus. It pays if the player has at least a straight and he doesn’t need to beat the dealer to get paid for this. It pays anywhere from an equal amount to the ante wager up to 5 times the ante wager, depending upon the player’s hand.


The strategy for three card poker is to raise with a Q-6-4 or better. It’s that simple. If the player has a king higher or better, he always raises. A jack high or less, the player should fold. But with the exactly queen high, they need to look at the second card. If it is a seven or higher, the player should raise. Five or lower, the player should fold. If it is exactly a 6, then they need to look at the third card. Then if that is a five or higher – raise. Three or less – fold. And if it is exactly a 4, you should also raise. So, Q-6-4 is the worst hand that the player should raise on.

Finally, a word of advice. Dealers are all of the, shall we say, carnival games or on new poker-based games, often don’t understand the rules correctly or make careless mistakes in scoring the hands. It is absolutely a rule in the game that the ante bonus pays no matter what the dealer has. So if you get a straight and the dealer has a higher straight and doesn’t pay that ante bonus, stop the game before the dealer takes the cards away and demand on being paid. I’ve seen this mistake so many times. So with any new poker-based game, know the rules of the game, before you sit down because I’ve seen dealer ears all the time and they usually going in the dealer’s favor. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think that an ear has worked against you.