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Three Card Poker for Beginners


What Exactly is Three Card Poker?

 Unlike standard poker, in the three card variety you’re playing the dealer. And as the name says, there are only three cards involved in this version, making the rules slightly different to your usual poker game. Read how in our three card poker for beginners guide!

Three card poker’s popularity is on the rise, and it’s easy to say why.

This variant of poker is essentially two games rolled into one. You’ve got your ante and play bet, in which you go against the dealer with the highest hand, but you’ve also go the Pair Plus bet, which rewards you based on the quality of your hand, starting from a pair or better.

Image Credit: William Warby


How to Get Started?

The first thing is to understand the betting system. You can make three bets in a three card poker game. In order to qualify you must pay the ante. This buys you into the game. Then there is an optional Pair Plus bet, which wagers on you getting a pair or more.

After you’ve made the initial bet, the dealer will deal out three cards facing down to each player and him or herself. The player gets the chance to look at the cards and decides whether he or she wants to play the hand. If the cards are not to the player’s advantage, he or she can fold, and forfeits the initial bet or bets.

In the case the player has a favorable hand, then a play bet is made, which carries the same value as the ante.

Once the play bets have been wagered, the dealer reveals his or her cards. The dealer needs to minimum get a queen high to qualify for action. When the dealer doesn’t qualify, the player receives even money on the ante bet.

However, in the event that the dealer does qualify, the player and the dealer compare hands. If the player’s hand beats the dealer, then he or she gets even money from the play bet. In the case the dealer wins the hand, the player loses both the ante and the play bet.

Just to make the scoring a little more complicated, if the player makes a Pair Plus bet, the payment of this bet solely depends on the player’s hand, and getting a pair or more means you’ll get the payout regardless of the dealer’s result. This also pays out at different ratios depending on the hand. There is also an ante bonus for high hands of cards.


Basic Three Card Poker Strategy

 Once you get over the three bet system, this is not a particularly difficult game. However, knowing which hands are in your advantage can help you to know when to bet and when not to.

HandDescriptionAnte BonusPair Plus
Straight Flush This consists of three cards of the same suit in a sequence. Like 6,7,8 of spades, for example. 5 to 1 40 to 1
Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank, like three 10s, a 2 and a 5. 4 to 1 30 to 1
StraightThree cards in a sequence not belonging to the same suit. 1 to 15 to 1
FlushThis is when all cards belong to the same suit and not in a sequence.4 to 1
One PairThere are two cards of one rank in the set. Like 9, 9, 5, 2, K. 1 to 1
High cardA queen or above

Three Card Poker Tips and Tricks

 Three card poker is relatively simple to play, and the accompanying strategy is not so difficult either. Here are some tips on upping your poker game.

  1. Fold if you have a hand lower than a queen-6-4.
  2. Make a play bet if you have a hand higher than a queen-6-4. If your first card is higher than a queen, the second higher than a 6 and the third higher than 4 then it’s a good idea to play.


Three Card Poker Rules

  1. The player makes an ante, and if he or she desires, a Pair Plus bet can also be made.
  2. The dealer gives the player or players three cards face-down, and three to him or herself, but does not disclose the cards.
  3. The player examines the cards and decides whether to fold or to place a play bet, which must be the same as the ante bet.
  4. If the player folds, then he or she loses the ante wager.
  5. If the player places a play bet, then the dealer will turn the cards over.
  6. The dealer will need a queen high or better to qualify.
  7. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, then the player wins on the ante bet and pushes on the play bet.
  8. If the dealer qualifies, then the player will have his or her hand compared to the dealer’s and the higher hand will win.
  9. If the player wins, and the dealer qualifies, then the player will get even money on the ante and the play bet.
  10. If the dealer and player tie, the bets will push.
  11. If the player has a straight or higher, then the player receives an ante bonus, which doesn’t depend on the dealer qualifying or not.
  12. The Pair Plus bet also depends solely on the player’s card, and will pay the player depending on whether he or she scores higher than a pair.


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About the author

Barbara is a German-born Austrian with unresolved identity issues and a degree in Ecology and Nature Conservation. She doesn't have a degree in journalism or any related field, but such details can't keep her from being one of the best.

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