With online casinos looking to offer more gaming options for players and physical casinos looking to gain an edge over their rivals, it is no surprise to learn that different forms of card games are coming more to the fore. While the history of Three Card Poker is as illustrious and yet uncertain as the poker that players know and love, it has rose to prominence in recent times. The game stands as one of the modern range of table card games that are increasingly popular in casinos.
A large part of the success of Three Card Poker is down to the fact that it is very simple to play. Like most card games in the casino, it can be a difficult game to master but the fact that there are few barriers to playing the game makes it a natural choice for players.
The fact that the game offers two main modes of play is something that makes it even more appealing to a wider range of players. One area of play is the Play/Ante game where players square up against the dealer. There is also the Pair Plus game where players have the chance to wager on whether they will receive a pair or better.
Some casinos require players to place an Ante bet before a Pair Plus bet can be made but the majority of casinos allow players to play one or the other games if they so wish.
How to Play Three Card Poker
Three Card Poker is played with the standard 52 card deck. When you start to play Three Card Poker, you should find that there are three betting circles for every player involved with the game. The betting circle at the top is for the Pair Plus section of the game. Underneath this circle is the Ante and Play circles for that part of the game. Players are required to place a wager in at least one of the circles, of at least the minimum amount, before play begins.
The Ante/Play Part of the Game
When all players have placed their bet, the dealer provides three cards to each player. Play starts with the player at the player at the left of the dealer and the flow of play continues in a clockwise fashion.
A player that has placed an Ante bet has the chance to look at their cards and then decide to play or fold. A player that folds will forfeit the Ante wager but if they decide to continue, they will need to place a bet, equal to the Ante bet, into the Play circle.
Once all bets have placed or players have folded, it is time for the dealer to reveal their three cards. For a dealer to be in play, they need to hold a Queen or higher. If the dealer does not hold a Queen or higher, all of the players remaining in the game will receive even money for the wager on Ante and their Play bet is returned.
If the dealer’s hand is in play, comparison between the dealer and player hand commences. A player that has a hand that beats the dealer will receive even money for both the Ante and Play wagers. If the dealer wins, the player loses the two bets. If there is a tie, the player is deemed to have won the hand.
It is important to be aware of the slightly different hand rankings with Three Card Poker. As this game is played with three cards as opposed to five cards, the same rules cannot be applied. The hands are ranked as follows:
- A straight flush
- Three of a kind
- A straight
- A flush
- A pair
- A high card
The Pair Plus Part of the Game
There isn’t much to this part of the game and it should be considered as a side wager. If you have placed a wager in the Pair Plus circle and your three card hand holds at least a pair or better, you win. If you have placed a wager in the Pair Plus circle and your three card hand doesn’t hold a pair, you lose. If you didn’t place a wager in the Pair Plus circle, it doesn’t matter if you get at least a pair, you are not playing the game.
The outcome of the Ante/Play element of the game is completely separate to the Pair Plus part of the game and there is no correlation between the two. The pay table for Pair Plus depends on the casino so be sure to check what payout you should receive from successful play.
Three Card Poker Tips & Strategy
When it comes to finding a good strategy for Three Card Poker, having the ability be able to fold is as strong a tool as you are likely to have. Like every card game, there is no strategy that will work 100% of the time but there is an opportunity for players to minimise the likelihood of losing while increasing their chances of winning.
As Three Card Poker is a simple game, it will be no surprise to learn that there is a very a simple strategy. If you examine your hand and it is lower ranked than Q-6-4, you should fold. If you have a hand that is equal to or better than this ranking, you should place a Play wager.
Breaking this strategy down, the first step is to look at the card that is your highest. If it is higher than a Queen, you should play, regardless of what your other cards are. If your highest card is lower than a Queen, fold.
If your highest card is a Queen, look at the second card. If it is higher than a 6, you should place a Play wager, regardless of what the rank of the third card is. If the second card is lower than a 6, you should fold. If the second card is a six, you should carry out a similar comparison of your final card. If it is higher than or equal to a 4, play and if it is lower than 4, you should fold.
This strategy won’t bring success every time but it will help to minimise your losses and enhance your chances of success.