3 Card Poker FAQ

3 Card Poker logoDeveloped in 1994 by Derek Webb, 3 Card Poker is a popular casino table game where players battle it out against the house. Using traditional poker hands players try to get dealt the best possible hand so that they can beat the dealer. This game is available to players online and in real live casinos. The game was designed to give players the same level of excitement as a standard poker game but at a much faster rate. With this in mind, it also had to provide the casinos that ran the game with a large enough house edge for it to be profitable.

The game is played at a blackjack style table with the dealer on one side and up to seven players on the other side. To enter a game, the player must first make an ante bet and then each player is dealt three cards face up and the dealer gets three face down. Based on the three cards that the player is dealt they can either raise by matching their ante bet, or fold and lose their ante bet.

The dealer then reveals their cards to determine who wins the hand. If the dealer doesn’t have at least queen high, then the raise bet is a push and the player will win even money on their ante bet. If the dealer does qualify then both bets are in play with the player winning if they have a better poker hand. If it’s a tie, then both bets are a push and no money changes hands.

As you can see the game is quite simple and there are some strategies you can implement to improve your chances. Considering you have a decision to make after the cards are dealt, on whether to raise or fold, it’s important to understand which hands you should continue with and which you should fold with in order to give yourself the best chances of getting lucky and having a winning session.

How Do I Play 3 Card Poker?

Learn To icon3 Card Poker is very simple to play and user-friendly. It was designed this was to attract new players and to ensure ongoing popularity. As outlined in the above question you simply make an ante bet to enter the game. After this, the dealer gives you three cards which you use to try and beat the dealer’s three cards. Rankings are determined according to standard poker hand rankings, except a straight is stronger than a flush, and of course, you only have three card hands instead of five card hands.

Once you have three cards you can determine whether to raise your bet, and stay in the hand, or fold your hand and lose your ante. If you raise, you’ll need to match the value of your ante bet as determined by the table minimums and maximums.

If you fold, you’re out of the hand and it’s over. After all of the players have taken action in this respect, the dealer reveals their three cards to determine which players are winners and which are losers. If the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify, meaning they don’t have at least queen high, then all players win on their ante bet at 1 to 1, or even money, and they push on the raise bet. If the dealer has the queen high or better, then they compare their hand to each player to determine which players win. All bets are paid at even money unless the player wins with a straight or better; then they are paid out at a higher rate.


You can also make a pair plus bet in 3 Card Poker. In this bet, you make a separate wager on whether you’ll achieve a pair or better in your three cards. This is a separate bet to your standard ante and raise bet and is purely optional while you’re at the 3 Card Poker table.

If you make this bet the dealer’s cards don’t matter, unless you’re playing both bet types at the same time. As you would always raise with a pair, it doesn’t impact your pair plus bet if you fold as that means you won’t be winning on that wager anyway. The pair plus bet can pay out huge amounts if you get lucky and make a very strong hand.

What Are The 3 Card Poker Payouts?

You’ll be able to find a variety of different payouts in 3 Card Poker games. For the purposes of listing odds here, we’ve gone with most common payouts. If the dealer doesn’t qualify with a queen high, then you’ll win 1 to 1 on your ante and the raise bet is returned as a push, although some casinos pay out on both bets; it just depends on the rules where you’re playing. When the dealer qualifies and the player wins you’ll receive 1 to 1 on your bets plus the following extra payouts, if you achieve a strong hand.

Ante Bet Payouts

Straight Flush5 to 1
Three of a Kind4 to 1
Straight1 to 1

Pair Plus Payouts

Straight Flush40 to 1
Three of a Kind30 to 1
Straight6 to 1
Flush4 to 1
One Pair1 to 1

If you lose to the dealer you obviously lose both bets. When you fold without raising after getting your cards, you also lose the pair plus bet. This isn’t a problem though because if you did win the pair plus bet you certainly wouldn’t fold the hand; you’d always raise.

What Is The House Edge?

House Edge iconThe house edge in three card poker is 3.37% on the ante and raise bets, and it’s 7.28% for the pair plus bet. This is quite high when it comes to casino table games. Roulette with a single zero is 2.7%, blackjack is 0.28% with excellent rules, baccarat is 1.06% on the banker, and craps is 1.36% on the don’t pass line and the don’t come bets. So as you can see, 3 Card Poker isn’t great in this respect.

Basically, the house edge is a percentage representation of how much money the house will win on average from the player out of every $100 they wager. This is on a long timeline, though, so there can be swings and variations based on luck, and bad luck, depending on which way you look at it.

It’s important to keep in mind that no strategy or betting method can be used to overcome this minimum house edge. It’s fixed and won’t go any lower, but it can go higher though with poor play. The casinos have the edge built into the games they offer so they guarantee a profit. So if you come across any books or advice on how to beat the game, just ignore it.

The game can still be fun and you can still have winning sessions if you get lucky enough. So don’t be too disheartened. Nothing beats that excitement that comes with a winning and lucky session and you’ll have them from time to time. You just won’t be able to create a balance sheet from all your sessions that end up in the black, when it comes to playing three card poker.

Is There A Simple 3 Card Poker Strategy I Can Use?

Betting Strategy iconThe most popular strategy and the best to implement in three card poker is to raise if you hold at least a Queen, 6, and 4. The game is played according to poker hands, where the highest card is rated first, then the second highest, and then the third highest. So if you hold a King, then you play no matter what, if you hold a queen you must hold at least a 6, and if you hold a Queen and 6 the third card must be at least a 4.

This is a very simple strategy to follow and is probably the most well-followed in this game. If you aren’t raising, you’re folding, so with anything less than the above-mentioned hand you should fold and forfeit your ante.

  • If you were to copy the dealer and raise with any Queen High, then the house edge is 3.45%.
  • Raising on any hand no matter what makes the edge skyrocket to 7.65%.

So it certainly pays to follow at least this basic strategy to restrict the house edge to the lowest possible rate of 3.37%.

  • The Pair Plus bet is purely based on luck, so there’s obviously no strategy involved at all and it’s similar to betting on roulette.

Can I Play 3 Card Poker Online?

Desktop iconYou can play 3 Card Poker online, which is excellent for almost everyone who wants to play the game. This is because you can usually find better odds and more favorable games online when compared to a bricks and mortar casino. Online casinos have tiny overheads when compared to live casinos and they also don’t need dealers or people to run the games. It’s a completely different setup which lets them offer you smaller stakes games, and also a much lower house edge at times.

Live Dealer Games

Live dealer games can offer a great third option for players where you bridge the gap between online and live games. In these games, players are connected to the dealer via a video link, and real cards and tables are used to play the game.

Thankfully, three card poker with live dealers online is available at this point in time at a few online casinos. This means you can bridge this gap and enjoy the engagement with a live dealer and other players at the table with real cards. Keep in mind that live dealer games usually have higher minimum bets than standard online games. This is due to the fact that a dealer and video link must be used in the game and it isn’t fully digital.

Online Games and RNG

In standard digital online games, a random number generator is used to determine the order of the deck when it’s shuffled. This is a complex mathematical formula that generates random numbers based on a particular subset. The subset in this circumstance is the deck of cards. Aside from this, the game is played as normal.

You’ll probably be able to find some strange game variants and also additional side bets when playing online. Make sure you look into these fully before playing as they can increase the house edge and may not be worth it from an odds perspective. However, they could add excitement to the game and improve your odds of winnings, which is one of the great things about playing online.

Legal Online Play

Finally, make sure online gaming is legal in the state or country that you’re playing from. Some sites restrict players from certain regions and some just have warnings and still allow you to play. To make sure you aren’t at risk of being in trouble with your local authorities do some research to ensure you can play online casino games from where you’re living or residing currently.

Should I Play 3 Card Poker?

Thumbs Up iconThe above frequently asked questions should give you great insight into the game of three card poker. So, if you want to decide whether to play the game, read through these closely to see if the game is for you.

Like all casino table games you need to try them out and see if you enjoy the gameplay itself. This is where online play is a great option as you can play at low stakes, or even for free, to see if you like the game. The online version of the game will give you a different playing experience than live 3 Card Poker, however, it should still give you a good indication of the game. Playing in a live environment will always add another layer of excitement and fun to the game as you’ll be having fun with other players and most likely indulging in a few beverages while you do so.

Due to the insurmountable house edge, you need to enjoy the game because in the long run you’ll have more losing sessions than winning sessions. So you certainly shouldn’t be playing the game with the hope of making money in spite of enjoyment, as this will simply not happen.

If you like poker and fast-paced games, then three card poker could well be for you. If you just get too bored while sitting at a standard poker table waiting for everyone to take their turns, which can sometimes take a ridiculous amount of time, then the pace of 3 Card Poker will be good for you. Because casinos like games which are fast paced as they make more money you’ll also be able to find other games which suit this preference.

The house edge and odds in three card poker aren’t great, and if you’re keen on numbers and want the best possible chance of winning on a consistent basis then you should probably avoid this game. You can’t win in the long run and no strategy can help you overcome this. You can have winning sessions but that will all come down to luck. If you want better odds and similar excitement, then maybe focus your efforts on Texas hold’em or positive expectation video poker games such as full pay deuces wild.

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About the Author
Neil White

Neil White - Editor in Chief

His drive and passion for casinos and the most popular games keep him in touch with the latest news and interests to provide the best for his readers.