How to play Three Card Poker »

A hidden gem in a small number of land casinos, and an under appreciated mainstay of casinos online, three card poker is a great game for quick thinkers and those seeking an intro into the bigger world of poker.

The game

The dealer and the player are each dealt three cards, normally from a single, standard 52-card deck. The ranking hands for winning a game are, in ascending order:

  • High card (Aces are high)
  • Pair
  • Flush (all cards in one suit)
  • Straight (cards in sequential order)
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight flush (cards sequential and one suit)
  • Royal Flush/ Mini Royal (Queen, King, Ace - same suit. Not considered a separate hand at all tables)

Betting

Players joining a game must place an ante bet before their cards are dealt, and once the cards are seen, a player usually has two options:

1) Fold: give up, and forfeit the ante

2) Play: place a second bet, exactly equal to the ante, in the Play diamond

When the dealer's cards are revealed, the outcomes are:

  • Dealer wins: dealer has a better hand, player loses the Ante and Play bets
  • Push: dealer and player tie, all bets are refunded
  • Dealer does not qualify: if the dealer's best hand is a high card lower than a Queen, the Ante pays 1/1 and the Play bet is refunded
  • Player wins: player has a better hand, Ante and Play bet pay 1/1
  • Ante Bonus: most casinos also offer a bonus on high hands. Straight awards an extra 1/1, three of a kind pays 4/1 and straight flush pays 5/1. Royal flush payments vary

The house edge at most casinos is just over 3%. A common strategy is to fold on anything worse than Queen high.

The odds of being dealt a pair or better is 25.6%, so if you do land those cards, there's a near 75% chance you'll beat the dealer.

Pair Plus

As well as the standard Ante and Play bets, Three card poker has several side bets. They are usually found beside the play and ante diamonds on the table, so the stake for each bet type is easily identified by the dealer.

Pair Plus bets pay on set hands, regardless of which cards the dealer holds. The Ladbrokes Casino Pair Plus pay table runs as follows:

  • Pair, 1/1
  • Flush, 4/1
  • Straight, 6/1
  • Three-of-a-kind, 30/1
  • Straight Flush, 40/1

Because of the high payouts at the top end, Pair Plus has a surprisingly reasonable house edge of 2.32% - although all but the luckiest of players are likely to face a fair few losses before landing the win that makes the difference.

For players using Three Card Poker to test the waters ahead of a full-blown game of Texas Hold'em, the 6 Card Bonus side bet is an interesting proposition.

Payouts are based on the best poker hand from the six cards held by the combined hands of the dealer and the player. Usually these only pay out on three-of-a-kind or better. Pay tables can vary significantly, as can the house edge, so check the odds (and your winning streak) before making this bet.

To try Three Card Poker for yourself, visit Ladbrokes Casino today.

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