7 Jul

How to Play 3 Card Poker and Win Money

How to Play 3 Card Poker and Win Money - Three Card Poker Rules and Strategy3 Card Poker is a quick card game played in most casinos around the world, on land and online. It’s easy to learn, easy to play, and like blackjack, gives players an added element of control through calculated decision making. Continue reading to learn all about Three Card Poker rules, strategy and how to maximize your RTP.

4-Step Three Card Poker Rules and Strategy

The game is played with a single deck of cards and, in person, 1-7 players. Online, all you need is a computer or mobile device with a stable internet connection, and a secure payment method for deposits and withdrawals. These four steps will teach you how to play 3 Card Poker and win more with an optimum RTP.
  1. Game Rules: Players compete against the dealer, not each other. A hand begins with every player making a bet. Each player, and the dealer, then receives three cards.
  2. Winning Conditions & Payouts: Beating the dealer promises a win. You’ll win more if the dealer qualifies, and more yet for a qualifying Ante Bonus hand.
  3. Pair Plus Side Bet: The Pair Plus is an optional side bet that pays on a sliding scale for a Pair or better, irrespective of the dealer’s hand.
  4. Strategy & Tips: Employing this basic strategy will maximize your RTP, but it’s equally important to find a game with rules that impart the highest RTP.
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1. How to Play 3 Card Poker

Before any cards are dealt, you must place a bet. You can place an Ante bet, a Pair Plus bet, or both. Note that you do not have to play the main game (requires Ante bet). You can choose to play the Pair Plus side bet only (see Pair Plus Side Bet below). However, it’s also worth noting that strategy recommends against it (see Strategy & Tips below). That being said, I’ll assume you’re playing the main game.

Once you’ve place an Ante bet, you will be dealt three cards, as will the dealer. Your cards are dealt face up; the dealer’s face down. Now, it’s time to evaluate your hand, and what to do next. Before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at…

Three Card Poker Hand Ranks & Probabilities

Hand Rank (Greatest to Least)

Example

Probability

Straight Flush

678

0.217%

Three of a Kind

333

0.235%

Straight

910J

3.258%

Flush

4QA

4.960%

Pair

KK5

16.941%

High Card (Any)

A72

74.389%

After examining your cards, you’ll need to decide whether you want to Fold or Raise.

  • Fold: If you fold, your Ante bet is lost (Pair Plus bet is paid, if applicable), and the hand is over.

  • Raise: If you choose to raise, you must place an additional Play bet, equal to the current Ante.

At this point, the dealer will reveal his cards, determining whether the Dealer Qualifies or not. The dealer will qualify with Queen High or anything better. If the dealer only has Jack High, or anything less, his hand will not qualify. Which brings us to…

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2. 3-Card Poker Winning Conditions & Payouts

If your hand beats the dealer’s hand, you’re going to win some money. If the dealer’s hand does not qualify, you’re going to win some money. When neither of these conditions apply, you’re going to lose some money. How much you’ll win or lose depends on a few variables. We’ll start with the simplest scenario and work our way up.

1. Dealer Does Not Qualify – Player Hand Doesn’t Matter

If the dealer’s hand does not qualify with a Queen High or better, your Ante bet is paid at 1 to 1 (even money). The Play bet is returned (Push), and the hand is over. This applies regardless of your own hand. Even if you had a worse hand than the dealer’s, you still won the Ante bet (and ignored basic strategy – tsk-tsk!)

2. Dealer Qualifies – Player Hand Loses

If the dealer has at least a Queen High, and has a higher ranking hand than yours, you lose both Ante and Play bets. Tough break.

3. Dealer Qualifies – Player Hand Wins

When the dealer qualifies, but your hand ranks higher, you will win a 1 to 1 payout on the Ante bet, as well as a 1 to 1 payout on the Play bet. Good job!

4. Dealer Qualifies – Payer Hand Ties

If the dealer qualifies and matches your hand exactly, nobody wins anything. A tie is a tie. Your Ante and Play bets both push.

5. Player has a Straight or Better

This is where things get interesting. If your hand ranks as a Straight, 3 of a Kind, or best of all, a Straight Flush, you will qualify for an Ante Bonus. This win is paid regardless of the dealer’s hand. Whether he qualifies or not – even if he has you beaten by a mile – the Ante Bonus pays irrespective of the main game.

Ante Bonus Hands & Payouts

There are several pay tables known to exist for the Ante Bonus. Below are some of the most common, followed by their respective house edge, and where to find them.

Ante Bonus Hands

Pay-1

Pay-2

Pay-3

Pay-4

Straight Flush

7 to 1

5 to 1

4 to 1

3 to 1

Three of a Kind

4 to 1

4 to 1

3 to 1

2 to 1

Straight

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1

House Edge – Ante

2.94%

3.37%

3.83%

4.28%

House Edge – Ante + Play

1.76%

2.01%

2.28%

2.56%

Where to find ‘em…

Microgaming

Standard-High

RTG

Standard-Low

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3. Three Card Poker Pair Plus Side Bet

The optional Pair Plus bet is one of the most exceptional things about this game. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to play the main game at all – no ante bets or raises are required. You can simply post a Pair Plus bet and cross your fingers, never once concerning yourself with the dealer’s hand. I’m not encouraging you to do this, but I do find it interesting that you can.

The Pair Plus bet pays according to the player’s hand only. If the hand ranks high enough – a Pair or better, as its name suggests – the bet wins. If you’re dealt nothing better than high card, you lose. The dealer’s hand has nothing to do with it.

The overall probability of achieving a winning Pair Plus hand is 25.711%, or about 1 in 4. However, it’s not the overall probability, but the pay table, that discerns whether this is a bet worth making (i.e. the house edge).

Pair Plus Hands & Payouts

The chart below depicts a group of common pay tables for the Pair Plus wager, the relative house edge, and where you can find them.

Pair Plus Hands

Pay-1

Pay-2

Pay-3

Pay-4

Straight Flush

40 to 1

35 to 1

40 to 1

40 to 1

Three of a Kind

30 to 1

33 to 1

25 to 1

30 to 1

Straight

6 to 1

6 to 1

6 to 1

6 to 1

Flush

4 to 1

4 to 1

4 to 1

3 to 1

Pair

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1

House Edge

2.32%

2.70%

3.49%

7.28%

Where to find ‘em…

Microgaming

Standard-High

RTG

Standard-Low

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4. How to Win 3 Card Poker – Strategy for Max RTP

Let’s start with the simple part – how to play 3 Card Poker the right way. There are only three points you really need to remember.

  1. Raise with a hand of Q-6-4, or anything better.
  2. Fold with a hand of Q-6-3, or anything worse.
  3. Never post the Pair Plus bet.

It really is that simple. The only thing that will change this set of rules is if you’re able to see the cards of other players. Knowing that high cards like Queen, King and Ace (cards that qualify the dealer) are not available to him will increase your odds of winning a hand… but not by much. And if you plan to play online, where the best pay tables usually exist, you won’t see any other cards anyway. Which brings us to…

Tips on Evaluating House Edge & RTP

You’ll notice that I’ve published the “house edge” for various pay tables. The house edge is super important, because it represents the best possible chance of winning, with perfect game play implied. No matter how much strategy you employ when playing three card poker, you cannot possibly lower the house edge beyond this point.

House edge is also the exact opposite of another favorite statistic – RTP. The RTP is the theoretical “return to player”. When you add the house edge and RTP together, you should always get a total of 100%. If the house edge is 1.76%, then the RTP is going to be 98.24% [1.76 + 98.24 = 100].

The goal of any good gambling strategy is, therefore, to achieve the lowest house edge, (or highest RTP). To do this, you must put a little effort into your game selection. If you’re not choosing the best pay tables, you’re not giving yourself the best chance of winning.

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