How to Play 3 Card Poker?

3 Card Poker

If you are a gambler frequenting real-life or online casinos, you are sure to come against multiple variations of the game of poker. These games have become quite popular given the poker elements they constitute and are less complicated and faster compared to the real game of poker involving actual players. Amidst the long list of these games, such as Pai Gow Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em, the 3 Card Poker is favored by most due to its simplicity and fast pace. 

Originating from a three-century-old game known as Primera, the 3 Card Poker game is an American variant of the British card game called Brag. It is a fast-paced card game played against the house with only 3 cards. This article will provide you with a basic understanding of the game, how to play, and tips on getting a winning streak. 

Learning the basics

You begin the game by placing an initial bet known as ‘ante’ in the designated box to receive 3 cards. Based on the hand you have been dealt, you have to decide whether to play or fold. If you decide to play, then you have to match your ante for the dealer to show their hand.

In 3 Card Poker, the dealer has to qualify for your ‘play’ bet to come into play like all other casino poker games. As long as the dealer has a Queen, they will qualify. As long as your hand defeats that of the dealer, you win 1 on 1 on your ante. If they possess a Queen-high or better, you will get rewarded 1 on 1 on your ‘play’ bet. 

Apart from these regular payouts, you can win bonuses on your ante for getting very strong hands. For example, you will get 5 to 1 on your ante for getting a straight flush, while three of a kind will get you a payback of 4 to 1. 

Hand rankings in the game

Any individual familiar with poker variants such as Texas Hold’em or Five Card Draw knows how the hand rankings work. However, due to only 3 cards being dealt, the hand strengths are slightly different. This is how the order works in 3 Card Poker from highest to lowest:

  • Straight flush (3 consecutive cards of the same suit)
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (3 consecutively ranked cards,i.e., 4, 5, 6)
  • Flush (3 cards of the same suit)
  • One pair
  • High card

Tips to play the game optimally

Unlike a real poker game, the 3 Card Poker game is very easy to learn without involving many complicated decisions at different stages. The only strategy it requires is to remember which hands you should and should not play. You should only choose to play a hand containing a variation of a Queen, a four, and a six or better. Any hand that contains a combination worse than Q, 6, and 4 should be folded immediately. As long as you play with this strategy, you will not lose more than what the statistical house edge dictates. 

The house edge

All casino games have a house edge which is a mathematical advantage that the casino has over you in any gambling match. However, you can turn it in your favor using your skills in a real poker game. This is not possible in 3 Card Poker or any other banked casino games. 

In a 3 Card Poker game, the house edge is set at around 3.3%. This means you have about 96.7% odds of winning. The good news is you can increase your odds to 98% by playing optimally with the strategy mentioned above. 


As already discussed, 3 Card Poker is an easier variant of the complicated game of poker. When compared to other banked casino games, you have better odds of winning at it. There is actually no winning strategy. Like most casino games, you will lose some money in the long run. But as long as you stick to the plan, it is as good as any other table casino game. Enjoy the game and gamble responsibly. Seek professional help if you think you have developed a gambling addiction.

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