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A Beginner's Guide to Three Card Poker: Tips and Strategies

Shane C

Apr 27, 2023

Guide to three card poker

Have you ever paid a visit to a Vegas casino, played a bit of traditional poker, and thought it sometimes is a bit slow-paced? Well, you’re probably not the only one. Stories say that a British poker player named Derek Webb had this exact same thought while playing the available poker games in a Vegas casino at the time. 

This was the catalyst for him to create one of the most exciting variants of poker, the Three Card Poker as we know it today, in the year of 1994. Three years later, he patented the first variation of 3 Card Poker called Brit-Brag. One of the most exciting characteristics of this variant of poker is that the modern version of the game basically combines two games into one. Read on to find out more about the basics of the game and some tips and strategies to improve your gameplay and eventually your chances of winning.

How To Play 3-Card Poker

There are some differences between traditional poker rules and 3-card poker rules. For one, you’ll play against the dealer rather than bluffing your way to the final table against other players. Furthermore, there is a difference regarding hand rankings since a straight is worth more than a flush here. With this, the hand ranking from lowest to highest is the following: High Card, One pair, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, and Straight Flush.

This fun variant holds a special place in poker players’ hearts due to its simplicity and fast-paced rhythm. In one sentence, the goal of this table game is to have a higher-ranked three-card poker hand and beat the dealer. The fascinating catch is that players can also win some chips if they place a non-mandatory bet called ‘Pair Plus’, which outcome is independent of the dealer’s hand.

3 Card Poker RulesThe game is played with a standard 52 cards deck, has three stages, and begins with a decision. Before any cards are dealt, you need to decide if they want to place a bet on whether your hand will be higher ranked than the dealer’s. This is called the Ante bet. At this stage, in addition to the Ante wager, you may also place a Pair Plus bet that returns a payout if the hand has a pair or better, hence the name.

If you decide to place the Ante Bet, you and the dealer are dealt three face-down cards. After carefully looking at the hand, you need to make another decision. Either you decide to Play and place another bet equal to the amount of the Ante, or Fold instead. In the case of the latter, you lose both the Ante and Pair Plus wager, if you made one.

Making the decision to Play, gains you access to the Revealing Hands stage. In order to play, the dealer first needs to qualify by having a Queen or higher. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, you automatically bank both your and the dealer’s Ante bets, and get the Play wager returned. If they qualify and you have a better hand, you win both your Ante and Play bets, as well as the the dealer’s. 

Based on the quality of your hand, there are some cases where you can have higher payouts than these regular ones. If you have a three of a kind, you’ll receive a 4 to 1 payout and a 5 to 1 payout by being dealt a Straight Flush. Moreover, if you made a Pair Plus bonus bet, you’ll normally have the following payouts depending on the dealt hand: Pair 1 to 1, Flush 3 to 1, Straight 6 to 1, Three of a Kind 30 to 1, Straight Flush 40 to 1 and Mini Royal Flush 200 to 1.

3 Card Poker Strategy To Improve Your Gameplay

3 Kings in PokerThis is an incredibly easy game to play due to its simplicity and there are not that many complex strategies to leverage your probability of winning. Nonetheless, there are a few tips and strategies that will help you take your game to a whole new level. One pretty common tip is that you should fold every hand lower than a Queen high, with 6 and 4 as second and third cards, respectively. 

The best thing you can do to increase your chances of being the winner is to place 100% of your total bet on the Ante wager. This is the case where you minimise the house’s edge and thus maximise your probability of winning, sacrificing high payouts. There are other strategies that you should apply to help you decide when to place the Play bet, such as having a King or Ace high or having a pair or higher. 

Besides card strategies, you should also have bankroll management strategies in place. One tip is to keep track of your winnings and losses based on the hands you’ve been dealt. This will help you be diligent with your wagers and avoid overspending. Also, whether you’re playing in a land-based casino or playing 3 card poker online, you should always be in control of your emotions and don’t fall for the Gambler’s Fallacy.

Conclusion

Playing Three Card Poker is an exciting and fast-paced experience that requires a mix of luck and skill. By following the basic rules of the game and implementing some simple strategies, you can increase your chances of success and potentially walk away with some impressive payouts. Remember to always manage your bankroll wisely, stick to a game plan, and have fun. With practice and persistence, you can become a master at Three Card Poker and enjoy this thrilling casino game for years to come.