Three card poker (3CP) is fast becoming an online favourite for table card game lovers as it’s an easy game to follow and a lot of fun to play. Once you get your head around the rules, 3CP players have the potential to win some serious dollars due to the lower house edge, making it the perfect game for strategic play. It’s also a great social game due to its simple format and is available to play online for free or real money.
How to Bet and Play Three Card Poker
Three card poker is played with a standard 52 deck of playing cards, excluding the Jokers. The aim of the game is to make the best possible hand out of the three cards you are dealt.
The game starts with each player making a bet of either Ante or Pairs Plus, or both. Most commonly, players will place both bets, although that is entirely a personal choice. Some online casinos also offer an additional option to place a ‘six card bonus’ bet – a side wager paid out according to a set pay-table based on the best five card hand using any of the six cards on the table, i.e. the player’s and dealer’s three cards (paytable detailed below).
The Ante wager is played in competition with the players hand against the dealer’s hand. The Pairs Plus wager (and six card bonus wager) is entirely independent of the Ante wager and is paid on the basis that the players hand will be a pair or better.
Once all players have placed their bets, the dealer will shuffle and distribute three cards to all players (most games deal player cards face up, however in some variants, player card can be dealt face down) and then him/herself. The game begins with the first player to the dealer’s left and continues clockwise around the table.
After examining their hand, players who made an Ante bet must decide whether to fold or play. If they fold, they have forfeited their Ante wager. If they continue to play, they must place an additional bet of equal value to their Ante bet, and place it in the Play circle.
Once all players have declared their decisions on how they are going to play, the dealer will reveal his/her hand. The dealers hand must contain a Queen card or higher, if it doesn’t then all players will win even money for their Ante wager, and a return of their bet on the Play. If the dealer’s hand does qualify with a Queen or higher, the player must beat the dealers hand in order to win. A winning hand means players receive even money on both their Ante and Play wagers. A losing hand means the player loses both bets.
The Pairs Plus bet is not played against the dealer and thus the dealer’s hand has no effect on its outcome. If a player’s hand consists of anything less than a pair, they have lost their Pairs Plus bet, however if their hand contains a pair or better, they win their Pairs Plus bet.
The Six Card Bonus bet is influenced by the dealer’s cards, so it is resolved at the conclusion of the round.
There is also the chance for a player to win the Ante Bonus, which is a hand that consist of a Straight or better. The bonus applies regardless of the dealer’s hand and is paid out according to the below pay scale.
Three Card Poker Hand Rankings
Unlike traditional Texas Hold’em poker which deals a hand of five cards, three card poker (as the name so obviously suggests) deals a hand of only three cards, which means there are some differences in the way hands are ranked. The hand rankings of three card poker in order from highest to lowest are as follows:
- Straight Flush:
- Three of a Kind:
- High Card:
- Straight Flush: 5 to 1
- Three of a Kind: 4 to 1
- Straight: 1 to 1
- Straight Flush: 40 to 1
- Three of a Kind: 30 to 1
- Straight: 6 to 1
- Flush: 4 to 1
- Pair: 1 to 1
- Royal flush – 1000:1
- Straight flush – 200:1
- Four of a kind – 100:1
- Full house – 20:1
- Flush – 15:1
- Straight – 10:1
- Three of a kind – 7:1
Three cards of the same suit in sequence (for example, Three, Four and Five of Hearts). Combinations: 48. Probability: 0.22%.
Three cards of equal rank (for example, three Sevens). Combinations: 52. Probability: 0.24%.
Three cards in sequence, of any suit (for example, a Nine, 10 and Jack; regardless of suit). Combinations: 720. Probability: 3.26%.
Three cards of the same suit (for example, a Queen, Ace and Deuce of Clubs). Combinations: 1096. Probability: 4.96%
Two cards of equal rank (for example, two Jacks and a Five). The higher pair wins. Combinations: 3744. Probability: 16.94%
The highest ranking card in your hand. If highest cards are of equal value, the second highest cards are compared, and then if necessary, the third highest cards are compared. Combinations: 16440. Probability: 74.39%
Three card poker also differs from traditional poker in that a Straight hand beats a Flush, with Three of a Kind beating both.
Three Card Poker Pay Table
Although there are some variations to this, wagers in three card poker are typically paid out as follows:
Ante Bonus Pay Scale
Pair Plus Pay Scale
Six Card Bonus Pay Table
Where Australians Can Play Three Card Poker
With the ever-expanding popularity of three card poker, this game is available to play socially for practice, or for real money online on a series of different websites. Players can play for free or real money against the computer or real opponents. Online three card poker has extras that you won’t find at land-based casinos, including better odds, better payouts and amusing side bets.
If you like three card poker you are also bound to love the range of table card games like Blackjack, Baccarat and classic Poker that can be played for free or real money online at trusted sites like Jackpot City Casino and All Slots.
Live Dealer Three Card Poker
Live dealer three card poker is one of the newest and most popular online casino games on the market and there are few casino games you will find on the Internet more fun to play. Utilising visually superb dealer platforms, live dealer three card poker allows players to compete directly against an real person, putting their strategies to use for real money, with low or high stake games available.
3CP History Lesson
Three card poker is a game with a relatively short history, especially compared to most casino card games which date back hundreds of years. The game was first invented in 1994 by a professional poker player, an Englishman named Derek Webb.
The story goes that Webb was sick of the slow pace of poker and wanted to create a faster game that still maintained the exciting and strategic elements of traditional poker. He set out to create a game that was easy to understand, with a house edge that would keep casino operators interested, but with payouts that were decent enough to attract players.
And so 3CP poker was born, with Webb successfully selling his ground-breaking new game to the Vice President of Grand Casino Gulfport in Mississippi after being rejected by an array of casino owners in the USA. Three card poker didn’t take long to soar in popularity and can now be found in most land-based and online casinos all over the world.
Much of the popularity of this game comes from its simplicity and easy to understand rules. Because players play against the dealer instead of against each other, it provides a great social atmosphere for players to develop a camaraderie. Hats off to you, Derek Webb!