3 Card Poker is one of the most popular games around, both in land-based and online casinos.
The reasons for this are simple to ascertain: it’s a game that brings loads of fantastic excitement, coupled with the chance to win some seriously impressive amounts of money.
But how exactly is this game played, and what are the ways in which you can maximise the amount you win?
Keep on reading to find out.
How to Play 3-Card Poker
The first thing to know about 3 Card Poker is this – it is actually two games rolled into one, and you’ll be able to play just one of them, or both at the same time.
Both bets are made before the cards are dealt, and the first is called the “ante” bet.
This essentially sees you going up against the dealer, and you’ll win if you’re able to get a hand better than the one the dealer shows – providing the dealer’s hand qualifies, which means that it has to be queen high or better.
There’s also a bonus payment if you beat the dealer with a straight, three of a kind, or a straight flush.
The other type of bet is the “Pair Plus” bet, and the dealer’s hand has no bearing on whether you win or not.
Instead, you’ll receive a prize if you hold a pair or better, with the payouts linked to the strength of the hand.
So, if you simply have a pair, you’ll win a payout worth 1:1, however if you have a straight flush, you’ll receive a payout worth 40:1.
There’s no need to worry too much about the payout ratios though, as most games have a paytable for players to refer to while playing.
So, how do you play?
Well, you’ll first need to make a bet before the cards are dealt (either on just the ante bet, or on both bets), and you’ll then receive three cards.
The player then needs to decide whether to bet again, which is called the play bet, and thus continue the game, or fold their cards and forfeit their buy-in.
The dealer’s hand is then revealed, and this can lead to four different outcomes:
- If the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify, the ante bet is paid 1:1 and the play bet is returned
- If the dealer’s hand does qualify but is beaten by the player, the player receives even money on both the ante bet and the play bet
- If the dealer’s hand qualifies and is equal to the player’s hand, ante and play bets are returned to the player
- If the dealer’s hand qualifies and is better than the player’s hand, the ante and play bets are lostShould the player win, they will also be paid a bonus if their hand is good enough.
That is only half the game though, as there’s also the Pair Plus bet to consider. This is played out at the same time as the ante bet, and simply sees the player being paid for their hand.
Remember though: you will not be able to win a Pair Plus bet if you fold – only those getting to the end of the hand are eligible for a prize.
Best Strategy for Ante Bets
When it comes to 3 Card Poker strategy, it is best to split the two different games, even though they are played at the same time.
The most important thing to remember when playing against the dealer is that it’s only advisable to make the play bet when you are holding a queen or higher in your hand.
This means that you need to be disciplined, as you’ll be folding many of the hands that you are dealt.
As is the case in standard poker though, the ability to control your urge to gamble is the most important aspect of this game.
Best Strategy for Pair Plus
The only thing to say about Pair Plus is that you should never fold when you have a pair or higher, however this is a pretty obvious thing to say.
Other than that, there is no real strategy for this aspect of the game, as it is entirely down to luck.
After all, you aren’t able to influence the cards that you’re dealt.
You should be aware that Pair Plus is a more volatile way to play though, and therefore can lead to bigger wins – and bigger losses.
Optimum Overall Betting Strategy
If you’re playing simply in the hope of winning some money, there’s one strategy to implement over all others – only play the ante bet, and completely ignore the Pair Plus side of the game.
The reason for this is a simple one: the ante bet has a lower house edge, so you’ll have a better chance of winning each time you play.
Of course, there are occasions when having a Pair Plus bet active would lead to some big wins, but over time you’ll win more by simply avoiding it.
Playing 3 Card Poker isn’t all about winning money though – it’s also about having some fun at your favourite online casino.
If fun is more important than prizes to you, the Pair Plus game is certainly worth playing, as its higher volatility will lead to bigger swings in fortune.
So, you might not win anything for a few hands, but you could then win big by hitting a straight flush. Some games also have enhanced odds for certain card combinations, so be sure to look out for these when playing the game.
Live Casino 3 Card Poker
In recent years a new form of 3 Card Poker has hit online casinos – one that is played with a live dealer, who is beamed to your screen via a webcam.
The ways in which live 3 Card Poker and the standard online variety are played are completely identical, however the live version allows the player to interact with the dealer, and thus, for many, ensures a more authentic casino experience.
The buy-ins are usually higher though, so whether you play live 3 Card Poker will often depend on how big your bankroll is.