How to Play 3 Card Poker like a Boss

Before your next trip out to Las Vegas, you may want to take the time to learn how to play 3 card poker, a popular table game that is a unique variant of the classic poker game.

Not only is this a fun table game to play, but it’s also very easy to pick up and learn. This variation is almost like playing two games in one because you play against both the dealer and can win for having a good hand.

The game’s goal is to end up with the best poker hand at the table, with only three cards.

Requirements For Three Card Poker

You don’t need much to play this game of poker. You’ll only need a standard 52-card deck and poker chips to track bets. An automatic card shuffler helps, but it’s necessary. You’ll typically see these in live casino games.

Online you’ll play with digital representations of these items. Some online casinos have live dealers with real cards instead of virtual ones.

Learn How To Play Three Card Poker

This game is simple as poker games go, and your luck depends entirely on the initial poker hand you were dealt. That makes 3-card poker a stud poker game rather than draw poker.

To get started in this casino game, you’ll need to place an ante wager or a pair plus bet that they will have at least a pair or better in their 3-card hand.

From there, 3 cards are dealt face down to each of the players and the dealer. You play against the dealer’s hand but not the other players at the table.

Once all cards have been dealt, the player can look at those three cards and then determine if they want to place a play wager to pit against the dealer’s hand. This play wager must equal the amount placed as an ante wager.

If the player folds, the game is over, and the player must hand over their cards. The dealer also then collects the player’s ante bet and pair plus bet they had placed at the beginning of the game. However, if the player places a play bet, the cards will be turned over to determine who had the better hand.

When cards are revealed, the player can collect their play wager if the dealer’s hand has Jack-high or worse. If the dealer has Queen high or better, both the play wager and ante bet are paid 1 to 1 as long as the player has a better hand than the dealer.

If the dealer’s hand wins, they’ll collect both the play bet and ante bet. The pair plus bet you placed is determined separately from what the dealer’s hand contains.

Three Card Poker Hand Rankings

Now that you understand the rules of three-card poker, it’s important to understand the hand rankings ahead of time, so you know what to look out for. These are just as simple as the rules; you’ll want the highest poker cards in your hand to win. But these hand rankings are slightly different than with regular poker games.

In 3 card poker, straights win over flushes, but this three-card version is also more likely to make flushes than straights.

Here are the hand rankings from best to worst for winning in 3-card poker:

  • Straight Flush – Three cards consecutive cards of the same suit

  • 3 of a Kind – Three cards of equal value

  • Straight – Three consecutive cards; they don’t have to be the same suit

  • Flush – Any three cards of the same suit

  • Pair – Two cards that match in equal value

Placing Bets In 3 Card Poker

Just like the rest of the game, placing bets in three-card poker is simple, and you only have two bets that can be placed initially and then another to keep the game going. Each casino is going to have different rules for placing ante and play bets. Some will require an ante bet before you can place a pair plus bet, while others will allow you to decide which bet you’d like to place on the game.

Ante Bet

An ante bet or ante wager is the bet you’ll place on playing your hand against the dealer’s hand. The ultimate goal is the having the highest-ranking poker hand.

Pair Plus Bet

This is an additional bet that can be placed when you play 3 card poker. This bet is placed when you believe at least two cards in your hand are a pair. The dealer’s cards are not relevant to this bet.

Play Wager

This is another bet placed within the game after you look at your own hand. This play wager or play bet will be placed if you decide you want to keep playing against the dealer’s hand instead of folding. This has to match the initial ante bet you placed.

Three Card Poker Strategy

While this may be one of the easier casino games to play, there is still some strategy to this game.

The optimal strategy is straightforward, and you should play all hands that are Q-6-4 or better or any hands that include pairs. Fold any hands worse than this combination.

How To Figure Out The Player’s Hand

Knowing you need this specific combination of cards to continue playing three-card poker is easy, but how do you determine if you should play the hand?

Start with your highest card and compare it to the Queen. If this card is higher than a queen, always play the hand; it doesn’t even matter what the other two cards are.

Move on from there. If your next highest card after the Queen is a 6 or higher, you’ll want to play the cards. However, if your second card is lower than a 6, fold.

Six Card Bonus

In the game of three-card poker, there’s an additional bet that players decide to place or not. The six-card bonus wager can be placed before any cards are dealt. Note that this is not an ante bonus. The player must have placed both the ante wager and pair plus wager to place this additional play wager.

This side-bet is based on 5-card poker. Winning depends on the best 5 card poker hand that can be made out of the 6 cards dealt to the dealer’s hand and the player’s hand. Each player will use any of those six cards from both hands. If this combined 5-card poker hand contains three-of-a-kind or better, the player wins. If the hands are worse than three of a kind, the dealer collects the six-card bonus wager placed.

Ready to play some Three Card Poker?

Now that you understand how to play 3 card poker and the optimal strategy for playing the game, this casino game will quickly become one of your favorites. The three-card poker rules are easy to keep straight, and the player decides how much they’d like to wager and if they’d like to place additional bets on the player’s hand.

The next time you’re in Las Vegas, you’ll now be a pro and won’t be able to walk away from the three-card poker tables now that you know exactly how to play 3 card poker and what to do win big!