Three Card Poker is one of the most popular casino poker variations out there. The game takes a very short time to learn, as it includes much less strategy than poker games like Texas Hold’em.

Yet, that’s not to say you should go into playing Three Card Poker blind and should not learn any Three Card Poker strategy before you start.

In this guide, we will teach you the basic rules of 3 Card Poker, as well as some basic strategies you can apply to give yourself a slight boost.

Keep in mind that Three Card Poker is still a casino game and that the house always has an edge, but by applying our tips you will be able to reduce that edge to a minimum and give yourself the best chance of winning.

Let’s get into it!

3 Card Poker Key Facts
🎲 House Edge3.3%
🃏 Basic BetsAnte & Play Bet
💵 Prop BetsPair Plus & Six-Card Bonus
⚖️ Skill Level RequiredLow
🎰 Where to PlayPokerStars Casino, BetMGM Casino, DraftKings Casino, BetRivers Casino

Three Card Poker Rules Explained

The rules of Three Card Poker are fairly straightforward, and it should not take you too long to get a grasp of everything that’s happening at the table.

Once you sit down, you will be asked to place an Ante bet. Usually, there is a fairly wide range of bets you can make. For instance, in an online casino, you may be able to place bets between $1 and $100 on a single hand.

Once you have decided on your bet size, you will get dealt three cards. These cards are your entire hand, as there is no drawing or community cards to speak of.

Based on these three cards alone, you will make a decision on whether you want to play. If you choose to play, you will have to match your Ante bet with a Play bet.

Following this, the dealer will expose his cards and compare your hands. If your hand is better, you will win. However, you can also win if the dealer’s hand does not qualify.

The dealer needs to have at least Q-high to qualify. If he does not, you win double the money on your Ante bet regardless of your hand. If he does, you can also win double the money on your Play bet if your hand beats his.

Three Card Poker Step-by-Step Guide

If you prefer to learn how to play 3 Card Poker in a step-by-step guide, keep reading as we show you how a typical hand of the game plays out:

  1. Place Your Ante Bet: The first bet you must place at the table is the Ante bet. You can choose the size of your Ante bet. Once it is placed, the dealer deals cards.
  2. Receive Three Cards: Now that the bets are in place, the dealer will deal you three cards and himself three cards. This is your entire poker hand in 3 Card Poker.
  3. To Play or Not to Play: Now that you have the cards, you must decide if you want to play. You can simply fold your cards, or you can place the Play bet and keep going in the hand.
  4. Dealer Exposes Cards: Once your Play bet is in place, the dealer will expose his cards. The hands are compared, the winner is decided, and all winnings are paid out.
  5. Play the Next Hand: That’s it! 3 Card Poker is a very fast game, and you will be playing the next hand in no time.

3 Card Poker Hand Payouts

When getting paid in Three Card Poker, most of your wins will come from your Ante and Play bet.

When the Ante bet is in question, you will win double money on it anytime the dealer loses, whether his hand is inferior to yours or simply does not qualify.

To win double money on the Play bet, you will need to actually beat the dealer. If the dealer’s hand does not qualify, you will not win money on your Play bet.

In addition to these payouts, the casino will pay you 4:1 on your Ante bet anytime you have Three of a Kind and 5:1 anytime you have a Straight Flush. Note that these hands are very hard to get, so don’t expect these payouts too often.

Finally, you can also win money in 3 Card Poker by playing the prop bets, which we will explain in more detail in the prop bets section.

Three Card Poker Hand Rankings

Now that you know the basic Three Card Poker rules and game flow, it is important to know how the poker hand rankings work in the game as well.

If you are a poker player already, you are probably used to the poker hand rankings used in games like Texas Hold’em or Five Card Draw, but the rankings work a bit differently in Three Card Poker.

Because only three cards are at your disposal, making certain hands like Three of a Kind becomes increasingly complex, thus making those hands worth more.

So, to get you started, here is a quick look at the poker hand rankings in Three Card Poker, from the lowest to the highest:

  1. High Card
  2. One Pair
  3. Flush
  4. Straight
  5. Three of a Kind
  6. Straight Flush

Right away, you have probably noticed that Three of a Kind beats a Straight and that a Straight beats a Flush. The reason, of course, is the fact that getting Three of a Kind is very hard with just three cards, while getting three suited cards is a bit easier than getting three consecutive cards.

So, it is worth remembering that hands like Straights and Flushes are absolute powerhouses in Three Card Poker and should never be discarded under any circumstances.

In fact, you will just want to have Q-high yourself to keep on playing, as we will explain in more detail in the 3 Card Poker strategy section.

Three Card Poker Strategy

Playing Three Card Poker is fairly simple, and most poker players out there can make good intuitive decisions in this game that resemble the best possible strategy.

Yet, if you are going to play for real money, you should be aware of what the best strategy actually is and how to use it at the tables.

We are going to give you a few 3 Card Poker strategy tips that can boost your odds in this game and get you closer to breaking even.

When to Play in Three Card Poker

The only real decision you have in Three Card Poker is whether or not to play the hand you were dealt. After getting your three cards, you get to fold them or place your Play bet.

This is where things get interesting, as not every hand is worth playing. In fact, the mathematics say that you should only play when you have at least a Queen with a Six and a Four in your hand.

If you have a hand that’s weaker than this, such as J75 or Q42, you should fold your cards and move on to the next hand.

Sure enough, some of the time, the dealer will not qualify, and you would have won double the money on the Ante bet, but this would only mean that you broke even on the hand.

On the other hand, having less than Q64 means you will often lose both the Ante and the Play bet, as the dealer can beat you with a Q-high of his own and a whole range of other poker hands.

Gain Advantage in Live Casinos

Playing online 3 Card Poker, you will only ever get to see your own three cards. However, in live casinos, you may be able to see other players’ cards as well.

While some casinos frown upon this or ban it outright, many casinos will let you look at other players’ cards without any penalties.

By seeing several of the cards that have been dealt, you will have a good idea of whether the dealer’s hand may qualify or not.

If many picture cards are out, you may want to play your hand even if it is weaker than Q64, as the dealer is a bit more likely to bust, and playing may be a bit more profitable than folding.

Keep a Healthy Bankroll

Like most gambling games, Three Card Poker is subject to a good deal of variance. When you play, you want to be sure you don’t go broke too fast.

It is not at all impossible to lose as many as ten straight hands of Three Card Poker, so make sure you have a bankroll that can sustain some losses if you want to play for a while.

When you start your session, you should ensure that your Ante bet is at a reasonable level, and you should not increase it too much when you win, as you can’t count on those good hands coming non-stop.

Limit Prop Betting

The game of Three Card Poker offers two prop bets. These are Pair Plus and Six-Card Bonus. While these prop bets are entertaining, they can also be quite dangerous.

Not only are the prop bets subject to even higher variance, but they also increase the casino’s edge over you quite a bit.

So, if you play prop bets for significant stakes every hand, you will go from being a 3.3% underdog to potentially being a 10% underdog or worse.

For that reason, we highly recommend only betting a fraction of your Ante bet on these prop bets if you will place any money on them at all.

Prop Bets in Three Card Poker

In Three Card Poker, two additional betting slots are available on the table, along with the Ante and Play betting slots.

Placing chips in these slots activates the game’s prop bets, which offer the potential for big payouts but also increase the house edge quite significantly.

Let’s take a look at the two prop bets and their payout tables:

Pair Plus Bet in 3 Card Poker

The most popular prop bet in Three Card Poker is called Pair Plus. As the name suggests, this bet wins anytime you have a pair or better in your hand.

While the Pair Plus bet is quite fun to play, it the payouts do not reflect the real probabilities, and in the long run it is a very negative proposition.

Yet, most casino players like to gamble it up a little, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you are betting within reason.

If you do place a Pair Plus bet, here is what you stand to win for various poker hands:

  • One Pair – Even Money
  • Flush – 4:1
  • Straight — 5:1
  • Trips: 30:1
  • Straight Flush: 40:1
  • Royal Flush: 200:1

The biggest win you can get from this bet is worth 200:1 on your money. To win it, you will need to get dealt a Q, K, and A of the same suit.

Six-Card Bonus Prop Bet in 3 Card Poker

If you want to take things to a whole new level, you can bet on the contents of your hand and the dealer’s hand combined.

The Six-Card Bonus prop bet will get you paid if you and the dealer have certain strong poker hands combined, but the threshold for this one is a bit higher.

Also, note that the casino will look at hands for this one from a Texas Hold’em perspective, so you will need five consecutive cards for a Straight and five cards of the same suit for a Flush, etc.

Here is a look at the Six-Card Bonus paytable in 3 Card Poker:

  • Trips — 7:1
  • Straight — 10: 1
  • Flush — 15:1
  • Full House — 20:1
  • Four of a Kind — 100:1
  • Straight Flush — 200:1
  • Royal Flush: 1000:1

Where to Play Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is easily one of the most popular card games found in both live and online casinos across America and beyond.

While many live casinos offer this game, playing it online is probably the most convenient way to play anytime you desire action.

You can check out the following online casinos for Three Card Poker tables:

Each of these online casino sites offers at least one live dealer table of Three Card Poker, and virtual versions of the game that are fully RNG-generated are also available.

So, whether you want to go up against a live dealer or against a computer, the top US online casinos will give you a chance to get in the action and enjoy Three Card Poker from your living room.

Three Card Poker FAQs

What is the house edge in Three Card Poker?

Speaking of the basic Ante and Play bets, Three Card Poker comes with an RPT rate of 96.7%, which means the casino retains an edge of 3.3%. This edge goes up further if you place prop bets, as the paytables for those are skewed further to the casino’s advantage.

When should I play my hand in Three Card Poker?

Typically speaking, you should only place the Play bet when you have at least Q64 in your hand. With this hand, you will be able to beat some hands that qualify, which means you can win double the money on both your bets.

When should I fold in Three Card Poker?

In most cases, you should fold your cards if your hand is weaker than Q64. In this case, you will almost never win against a qualifying hand, which means you can break even at best and lose at worst.

Where can I play Three Card Poker online?

You can play Three Card Poker at numerous licensed online casinos in the US, such as BetMGM Casino, PokerStars Casino, and BetRivers Casino.

What is the Pair Plus prop bet in 3 Card Poker?

The Pair Plus prop bet allows you to make an extra bet on your hand. You are betting that you will have at least a pair dealt to you. If you do, you can win some nice payouts according to the Pair Plus payout table you can find on this page.

What is the Six-Card Bonus prop bet in 3 Card Poker?

The Six-Card Bonus prop bet allows you to bet on the combination of your cards and the dealer’s cards. Six cards are taken into account, and payouts are made according to standard poker hand rankings. Payouts of up to 1000:1 are possible with this bet.

How much can I win in a hand of 3 Card Poker?

You will win double money on your Ante bet anytime you beat the dealer and double money on the Play bet anytime you beat a dealer’s qualifying hand. For the prop bets, you will win according to the preset paytables. You will also win 4:1 on your Ante anytime you have Trips and 5:1 anytime you have a Straight Flush.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500