3 card poker guide

This three card variant of Poker was invented by Derek Webb in 1994. Ever since he introduced this rather simple game, it has slowly but surely caught on.

By combining three important factors, Mr. Webb brought forth an exciting, fast, casino table game that appeals to players. 3 Card Poker combines a fair house edge, with easy to understand rules, and great payouts.

The game of 3 Card Poker can be thought of as two games in one. The first is referred to as the Ante and Play, and the second is referred to as the Pair Plus. Now in most casinos, both the Ante and the Pair Plus are optional. There are some casinos though that require an Ante to play.

The basis of both of these options is simple enough.

The Ante bet is simply a wager on whether your hand will beat the dealer’s hand.

The Pair Plus bet is a wager on whether the hand dealt to you will be a pair or better.

There is also another payout on the Ante bet for certain hands called the Ante Bonus. This bonus can be paid out whether a player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand or not. If a player has a Straight, a Straight Flush, or a 3 of a Kind, they win the bonus.

While these bet options are relatively standard in 3 Card Poker, different casinos have gotten creative in trying to bring players in with 3 Card Poker over the past few years.

For example, in 2007, Harrah’s casinos introduced a new hand in the Pair Plus table called the Mini-Royal. The Mini-Royal is considered an Ace-King-Queen suited with a payout of 50-1.

Boyd Gaming casinos introduced a $1 progressive jackpot for Ace-King-Queen Spades in 2008. They also started to offer $500 for any other Mini-Royal. Not to be outdone, Caesars Palace introduced a six card bonus recently that uses the player’s and dealer’s three card hands toward making a five card poker hand.

With these kinds of bonuses and incentives popping up, be sure to look into all of the variations of 3 Card Poker your betting establishment has to offer.

Now let’s take a look at how a game of 3 Card Poker will play out.

How to Play

– A player starts out by making an Ante and/or a Pair Plus bet.

– Each player is now dealt three cards along with the dealer. While players may look at their cards, the dealer’s cards remain face down.

– A player that made a Pair Plus bet will know if they have won at this point. Players that have made an Ante bet will either fold or raise at this point.

– A fold will lose the Ante wager, while a raise will require an additional bet known as the Play bet.

-The dealer will turn over his/her cards at this point.

– The dealers hand must qualify to play with a hand of Queen high or better.

– If the dealer’s hand does not qualify, a player will win even money on the Ante bet, and the Play bet will push.

– If the dealer’s hand qualifies, the dealer’s hand and the player’s hand are compared. The highest hand wins.

– If a player has the higher hand, the Ante bet and the Play bet will both pay even money.

-If the dealer has the higher hand, the Ante bet and the Play bet both lose.

– In the event of a tie, both the Ante bet and the Play bet will push.

– At this point, if the player has a Straight, a Straight Flush, or a 3 of a Kind, they win the Ante Bonus.

Now that we know how a game of 3 Card Poker works, here are a few tables regarding the hand probabilities and the payouts involved in a game of 3 Card Poker.

Hand Probabilities


High Card 44.00%
Nothing 30.40%
Pair 16.90%
Flush 5.00%
Straight 3.30%
3 of a Kind 0.20%
Straight Flush 0.20%
Total 100.00%

Pair Plus Payout:

Straight Flush- 40 to 1
3 of a Kind- 30 to 1
Straight- 6 to 1
Flush- 3 to 1
Any Pair- 1 to 1
This pay table is a standard Las Vegas pay table. Under this table, the house enjoys a 7.26% edge. This edge drops to 7.10% with the addition of the Mini-Royal.
Ante Bonus Pay Table:

Straight Flush- 5 to 1
3 of a Kind- 4 to 1
Straight- 1 to 1

Basic Strategy

When it comes to 3 Card Poker strategy, one rule of thumb is to raise the wager when holding at least a Queen-Six-Four or higher.
Another basic strategy involves the fact that a player wins if a dealer’s hand does not qualify. Since the player will only win the Ante bet, it is not optimal to make large blind raises since the Raise bet will push in such instances.

Since 3 Card Poker is such a simple, and fun, game to play, the best way to approach the game strategy wise, is to know the probabilities, and use your knowledge of creating poker hands to increase you odds of winning a higher payout, with some well placed raises.

3 Card Poker is a great casino to play as well as fun. So find a table and enjoy.