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Online Three Card Poker

Tue, Mar 29, 2:57pm by Ethan Anderson

Last Updated Sat, Feb 8, 6:33am


Three card poker is one of the most popular newly-developed casino games, allowing players to compete directly against the dealer with simple rules and some skilful strategy. Online casinos now offer entertaining 3CP side bets unavailable at land-based casinos, as well as better odds and payouts, and a stunning live dealer platform which hosts three card poker games for low and high stakes players.

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How to Play Three Card Poker

The object of Three Card Poker is to make the best possible poker hand out of three cards that are dealt to the player at the beginning of each hand. The game is played with a single, standard deck of playing cards.

A hand of Three Card Poker begins with each player making one or both of two bets that are offered. These bets are known as the ante bet and the Pairs Plus bet, and are resolved independently of each other. Most players at a Three Card Poker table will make both bets, but this is by no means required.

After each player has made their bets, the dealer will give each player three cards, face down. The dealer will also receive a face down hand. Each player may then examine their own cards.

If a player has made the ante bet, they now have a choice to make. If the player wishes to continue playing their hand, they must make a “play” wager that is equal in size to their initial ante bet. If the player does not like their hand, they may fold instead, forfeiting both their hand and their ante bet.

After each player has made their decision on how to play their hand, the dealer’s hand is revealed. The dealer must have a queen-high hand or better in order to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, all players win even money on their ante bet, and push their play bets.

If the dealer does qualify, the player must beat the dealer hand in order to win. The hand rankings in Three Card Poker hands are ranked as follows, from best to worst:

      • Straight Flush
      • Three of a Kind
      • Straight
      • Flush
      • Pair
      • High Card

Note that, unlike in most forms of poker, a straight beats a flush, and that three of a kind ranks above both of these hands.

If a player does beat the dealer, they will receive even money on both their ante and play bets. If the dealer beats the player, the player loses both of these bets.

However, regardless of the dealer’s hand, the player can win an ante bonus for a hand of a straight or better. This bonus is paid even if the player loses to an even stronger dealer hand. The most common ante bonus pay table is as follows:

      • Straight Flush: 5-1
      • Three of a Kind: 4-1
      • Straight: 1-1

The dealer will also resolve the PairPlus bets as player hands are revealed. The results of the PairPlus bet are determined only based on the strength of the player’s hand, with the dealer hand having no impact whatsoever. If the player’s hand is a pair or better, the PairPlus bet pays out based on the following pay table (which may vary between casinos):

      • Straight Flush: 40-1
      • Three of a Kind: 30-1
      • Straight: 6-1
      • Flush: 4-1
      • Pair: 1-1

In addition, some Three Card Poker games include a progressive side bet that will pay out if the player makes a “mini-royal,” or ace/king/queen, in spades. However, these progressive jackpots tend to be smaller and less common than those found at Caribbean Stud Poker tables.

Real Money Online Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is a standard game in almost all online casino lineups, making it an easy game to find. Real Money online Three Card Poker generally uses the same rules as we’ve outlined here, though some of the names of bets (and even the name of the game itself) might be altered slightly for legal purposes.

Our favourite real money online Three Card Poker game is offered by Bodog Casino. This game – known as Tri Card Poker at Bodog – is not only easy to play, but offers the best pay tables you’ll find anywhere on both the Ante Bonus and PairPlus bets.

Three Card Poker Strategy

Three Card Poker strategy is rather simple. If you would like to play optimally, you should raise only with hands of Q64 or better, including all pairs or higher. This strategy will limit the house edge as much as possible, regardless of the pay tables being used. If you want an even simpler strategy, you can copy what the dealer does and just raise any time you have queen-high or better; this will raise the house edge by less than 0.1%.

There is no strategy required to play the PairPlus bet; however, you may wish to read the following section on odds to see if your Three Card Poker game has a PairPlus wager you’ll want to make.

Three Card Poker Odds

The most common ante bonus pay table carries a house edge of 3.37%, which is about average for a casino table game. The PairPlus bet is a little trickier to analyse, since the payouts vary a lot more from casino to casino. The pay table we mentioned earlier in this article has a house edge of 2.32%, making it an excellent bet for Three Card Poker fans. However, most casinos offer 5-1 on a straight rather than 6-1, which raises the house edge to 5.57%. If you’re looking for the better pay table, we recommend Bodog Casino, which offers the full 6-1 on straights.

See also: 

Here are a few more facts about Three Card Poker odds:

    • While the PairPlus bet is a lot of fun, on most hands, you will lose your bet. About 74% of all hands in Three Card Poker will end with you having less than a pair.
    • Getting dealt a huge hand is rare, but maybe not quite as much of a long shot as you might think. You can expect to see a straight flush about once every 460 hands, and a three of a kind once every 425 hands.
    • On the other hand, if you’re playing at a table that has a progressive bonus for a royal flush in spades, that’s a much harder hand to hit. The odds of being dealt that hand are 1 in 22,100.

Three Card Poker Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Rules?

Three Card Poker is played using a standard deck of 52 cards. There are two bets the player may make on each hand: the ante bet and the Pairplus bet. Each player receives a hand of three cards that they may then examine, while the dealer gets their own three-card hand that remains face down until the end of the hand.

Each player that made the ante bet must make the decision of whether to raise or fold their hand. If the player folds, they forfeit their ante bet. If the player wants to stay in the hand, they must make a second bet of equal size to the ante bet. This bet is usually known as the “play” bet.

Once players have made this decision, the dealer’s hand is revealed. If the dealer has at least a hand of queen-high, the dealer is said to have qualified. If the dealer does not qualify, all players win even money on their ante bets, an all play bets push. If the dealer does qualify, the player will win both bets if they beat the dealer’s hand, and will lose both bets if the dealer’s hand is better. If the two hands are equal, the bets will push.

What Is the Ante Bonus?

The ante bonus awards additional winnings on the ante bet if the player makes a particularly strong hand. This prize is awarded whether or not the dealer qualifies, and (under the standard rules of Three Card Poker) regardless of whether the player beats the dealer hand. This bet pays out at different odds depending on the strength of the player’s hand, with most pay tables offering 5-1 odds on a straight flush.

How Are Hands Ranked?

Three Card Poker hands are ranked similarly to traditional poker hands, but there is one quirk that can confuse new players. The best hand is a straight flush, followed by three of a kind. However, a straight is actually the next strongest hand, beating a flush. This is due to the fact that it is actually more difficult to make a straight than a flush in Three Card Poker. Pairs come next, with “high card” hands being the lowest ranked.

What Is the Pairplus Bet?

The Pairplus bet is the second of the two main bets players may make on each hand of Three Card Poker. This bet is a much simpler wager, in which the player’s hand is evaluated only on its strength without considering the dealer’s hand. If the player’s hand is a pair or better, the Pairplus bet will pay out; otherwise, this bet loses. The strength of the player’s hand will determine how much a winning bet pays, often up to a maximum of 40-1 for a straight flush.

Do I Have to Play Both Bets?

No. On each hand, players may choose to make either the ante bet or the Pairplus bet, or they may choose to play both bets at the same time. Neither bet is considered a side bet; essentially, there are two separate games that can be played simultaneously on each hand.

Is Online Three Card Poker Legal in Australia?

Yes, Australians are permitted to play Three Card Poker for real money online. Currently, online gambling is regulated by the Interactive Gambling Act, which does not prohibit Australians from playing at online casinos or other Internet gaming sites. However, it does prohibit Australian companies from offering Three Card Poker and other casino games online, which means that Australians interested in playing for real money must play at foreign sites like Ignition Casino.

How Do Three Card Poker Progressive Jackpots Work?

In some casinos, there will be an optional Three Card Poker progressive jackpot bet. This optional $1 bet will give players the chance to win a progressive jackpot that is funded by players if they can make a very strong hand, such as a mini royal flush in spades. Smaller prizes may be awarded for other mini royals, straight flushes, and three of a kind. This bet is not available at all casinos, and is less common than the Caribbean Stud progressive jackpot side bet.

What Is the Optimal Strategy for Three Card Poker?

For the ante bet, the optimal strategy is to raise any hand of queen/six/four or better, including all pairs and above. Any hand of queen/six/three or less should be folded. This is a slightly better strategy than simply copying the dealer’s strategy of playing with any queen-high hand. As there are no decisions to make in the Pairplus game, there is no strategy to consider if you play this bet.

What Are the Best Pay Tables?

There are many different pay tables used for both the ante bet and the Pairplus bet, with different online and live casinos offering various versions of the Three Card Poker pay tables. For the ante bet, the best pay table offers a 5-1 ante bet bonus on a straight flush, a 4-1 bonus for three of a kind, and a 1-1 bonus for a straight.

The best Pairplus pay table awards 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for a three of a kind, 6-1 for a straight, 4-1 for a flush, and even money on a pair. That same pay table is sometimes slightly improved by the addition of a 50-1 prize for hitting a “mini royal,” or ace-king-queen of the same suit.

See also:

What Is the House Edge?

Given the pay tables listed above, the house edge for the ante bet is 3.37%, while the house edge for the Pairplus bet is 2.32%. However, it’s important to look at the pay tables that are being offered at your casino. While most Three Card Poker games use the standard ante bet bonus pay table, many casinos use less generous Pairplus tables, with the most common pay table boasting a house edge of more than 5%.