How to Play Three Card Poker: Rules, Strategy & Odds
Three Card Poker is a highly engaging, fast-paced card game found at most live and online casinos. One of the most intriguing factors for gambling enthusiasts is that there are actually two games in one. Every player participates in the standard Ante/Play game of Three Card Poker by placing chips in the first betting circle, but for those who want a little more excitement and added profit potential, a Pair Plus game can also be played.
Three Card Poker: Ante/Play
The Ante/Play form of Three Card Poker is the standard way that everyone plays. It begins with participants placing a single Ante bet in the first betting circle. Players are then dealt three cards. After viewing the cards, the player has two choices. They can either Play by raising (placing a second, equal bet to the Ante) or fold, sacrificing only the Ante bet.
- If the Dealer has a hand of Queen-high or better, the hand will play out. If the player wins by having a stronger hand than the dealer’s, they receive a 1 to 1 payout on both the Ante bet and the Play bet.
- If the Dealer has a hand of Queen-high or better, and the dealer’s hand turns out to be stronger than that of the player’s, both the Ante and Play bets are lost.
- If the Dealer does not have a strong enough hand to play (Jack-high or lower) and the player’s hand is stronger, the Play bet is called a Push (returned to the player, but not paid) and the Ante bet wins a 1 to 1 payout.
- If the Dealer does not have a strong enough hand to play (Jack-high or lower) but the Dealer hand is still strong enough to beat the player, the Play bet is called a push (returned to the player, but not paid) and the Ante bet is lost.
- If the Dealer and Player hands result in a tie, regardless of whether the Dealer’s hand qualifies to play, both bets are a push.
Three Card Poker: Pair Plus
Most avid Three Card Poker fans find the optional Pair Plus game to be the more entertaining portion of the game. When a player places an Ante Bet, they have the opportunity to place a Pair Plus side bet. This bet is won if the player’s hand contains a pair, flush, straight, three of a kind or straight flush. The typical paytable for the Pair Plus bet is as follows:
- Pair pays 1 to 1
- Flush pays 4 to 1
- Straight pays 6 to 1
- Three of a Kind pays 30 to 1
- Straight Flush pays 40 to 1
Note: If a player’s cards match any of these hands, they must continue to play the hand by raising the Ante bet in order to win the Pair Plus bet. If a player folds before adding the Play bet, the Pair Plus hand is also folded.
Three Card Poker: Rank of Hands
Below is a list of all possible hands in the order of their rank, highest to lowest.
- Straight Flush
- Three of a Kind
- High Card