How to Play 3 Card Poker

by | Jul 21, 2022 | Poker


As a player, it can be refreshing once in a while to step away from the colder and mathematical driven tables. For moments like this, another significant variation gained popularity over the years – 3 Card Poker.

Three card poker is one of the most popular table games, not only because it’s a fun game to play but also because it’s easy to learn and, above all, it offers a wide range of betting options to spice up your life as a player.

Let us introduce you to your new favourite table game.


Introduction to 3 Card Poker

One of the main characteristics of this variation is that you are not playing against other players but the dealer. This means other players’ hands won’t matter to you.

Three Card Poker is a variation of Stud Poker and can be played online and in a live casino. And besides being straightforward to learn, it can also have big payouts.



The Rules of 3 Card Poker

The game is played with a 52-card deck and chips. In a live casino, it’s widespread to see automatic shuffling machines, including alternating card decks. When you mostly play three card poker online, you’ll find virtual representations of cards and chips or live streams of a live dealer. In addition, there is a credit metre to see how much you have available for your game.

The game’s object is to make the best three-card hand possible, without additional drawn cards, but rather with the cards you’ve been dealt initially. You’ll now see the parallels if you are familiar with Stud Poker.

How to bet in 3 Card Poker?

It all comes down to how you choose. Either you hope to make a pair or better, or your hand is already outranking the dealer.

This game offers several betting options you can choose from. Let’s dive into them.


Before the start, each player bets on the Ante spot. This one is placed against the dealer, and you win if your final hand beats the dealer’s hand.

Play Wager/Play Wagers

If you bet on the Ante spot and like your hand, you must place a wager on the Play spot equal to the Ante wager on the Play spot. However, you can decline the Play wager, but your Ante is forfeited if you don’t like your hand.

All players who placed their Play spot wagers are in for the round against the dealer.

Pair Plus

Another bet you can place is on the Pair Plus spot. Your hand must be equal to a pair, flush, straight, three of a kind or straight flush to win this bet.

Play both

You can decide to bet both the Ante wager against the dealer and the Pair Plus to wager your hand. You’ll beat the dealer and bag both wins if you make at least a pair or better.

Ante Bonus

All Players who bet on the Ante and Play wagers are eligible for a bonus payout even if the dealer doesn’t qualify or the dealer’s hand wins. However, you must hold a straight, 3 of a kind or straight flush to win the Ante Bonus wager.


Hand Rankings in 3 Card Poker

The hand rankings in 3 Card Poker hand rankings are slightly different from regular hand rankings. In five-card games, the flush outranks the straight. In Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes.

The reason for this, there are more ways to make flushes than straights in this game.

Hand Rankings (strongest to weakest):

  • Straight Flush: Three cards of consecutive value and the same suit
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank
  • Straight: Three cards of successive value
  • Flush: Three cards of the same suit
  • Pair: Two cards of the same rank
  • Value, plus one “kicker”: i.e. AA4
  • High Card: Between the cards, there are non-paired cards, no consecutive order or the same suit

It’s essential to know that you’ll always beat another player who only has a King or a King-Queen when you hold an Ace as your high card hand. In addition, should there be a tie in a high card hand, the second card will determine the winner, and so on.

Play Three Card Poker

Each player gets dealt three cards face-down. Remember, you can use the Ante and Play wagers for possible additional profit. As known from other variations, the players can decide to either play them or fold after receiving their cards.

Should players decide to fold, the dealer wins the initial Ante wagers. If players decide to go ahead with their hands, they must make a bet on the play. This bet needs to match the Ante bet.

Then, the dealer reveals the player cards, followed by their own. All hands will be compared, and the payout is done respectively.

Showdown Examples:

Should the dealer hold a Jack-high or weaker, the hand doesn’t qualify. All active players will win the Ante bet but push on the Play bet.

Should the dealer’s hand be better than the player’s hand, the player still wins the Ante bet if the dealer doesn’t qualify. However, players push on their Play wager and their chips back.

If the dealer holds a Queen-high or better, the hand qualifies. This means should the player’s hand be better, the player wins the Ante and Play bet. However, the player loses both bets should the dealer’s hand win.

Stakes and Payouts in 3 Card Poker


Like in other games, there are the minimum and maximum betting sizes. This is crucial when wagering the Ante and Play, as the chips must always be of the same numeric value. The only exception is the Pair Plus wager, as the amount can differ.

Example: If the table has a minimum betting size of $5, you need to wager $10 to participate in the Ante-Play bet ($5 for each wager). In addition, if you also want to bet on Pair Plus, you need to place at least a minimum of $5. Therefore, the total stake of your betting round will be at least $15.

Ante Payouts

When looking at possible Bonus payouts, these are the most common structures:

  • Straight: 1 to 1
  • Three of a Kind: 4 to 1
  • Straight Flush: 5 to 1

Always check the payables beforehand as there might be a difference in each Casino and Online Casino structure.

Pair Plus Payouts

This wager acts independently of the Ante and Play wagers. Regardless of the dealer’s hand, a player will win with any pair or better but will lose if dealt a High Card only. It’s important to know that the dealer’s hand won’t affect the outcome of Pair Plus hands.

Do you Plan on Giving 3 Card Poker a try?

Are you curious to play your first round and win?

As you can see, the rules are easy to absorb, and it can be a relaxing way to play for a change. Only remember to check the house rules and paytables before taking your seat.

In case you want to slow down a little and return to the general information about poker, just take a look at our “How to Play Poker” guide.


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