Play 3 card poker

Three Card Poker belongs to the category of table games that are based on poker rather than the other way around.

  • You're not playing against other players.

  • The house edge doesn't come from taking a share of pots. 

Either the dealer or a pay table is your opponent. You don't care about the hands of other players, and the house has an advantage built into the odds of the game.

That is not uncommon. The first poker-based game was Caribbean Stud Poker. Later variations include Let It Ride, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, Mississippi Stud Poker, and more.

Three Card Poker is played both online and in live casinos. 

  • Online, you'll find it in a menu of games. 

  • Live in the U.S., it's in table games pits right alongside blackjack, craps, and roulette. 

  • In European casinos, you may find it either in the pits or in card rooms.

Assuming you make a hand of a specific value, Three Card Poker can have pretty big payouts! It’s also a straightforward and easy game to learn. 

So, read on to find more about this popular casino table game and exactly how to win at Three Card Poker.

Three Card Poker: How to Play

Everything you need to know about playing Three Card Poker in a casino, including how to win, will be covered in this section.

Starting out, the player bets that they will have a hand of at least a pair or better by placing an ante wager and/or a pair plus wager.

The dealer and all other players are then handed three cards, face down. You aren't playing the other players at the table; just the dealer.

The player will next evaluate his hand and decide whether or not to place a play wager (equivalent to the ante wager) to compare his hand to the dealer's hand. The player should "play" all hands greater than Queen, Six, and Four and fold all hands worse, according to optimal strategy.

The hand is ended and the player's ante wager and pair plus wager are collected by the dealer if they fold. The cards will be revealed to see if the player has a better hand than the dealer if the player places a play wager.

The player gets their play bet back if the dealer has a hand with a Jack-high or worse. Both the play bet and the ante are paid out at 1 to 1 if the player beats the dealer with a hand that is Queen-high or better.

The ante and play bets are both collected if the dealer's hand is stronger. The outcome of the pair plus wager is decided independently of the dealer's hand.


Pair plus payouts:

Straight Flush
40 to 1
Three of a Kind
30 to 1
6 to 1
3 to 1
1 to 1

Ante bonus payouts:

Straight Flush
5 to 1
Three of a Kind
4 to 1
1 to 1

What makes Three Card Poker the best? The six-card bonus paytable offers the potential to earn $100,000 when the dealer and player's cards combine to form the royal suite of diamonds (9 through Ace).

Check out more "how to play" videos on Texas Hold 'Em poker, blackjack, craps, and roulette now that you're an expert at three-card poker.

Try your luck at the tables at any of these Caesars properties now that you know how to successfully play three-card poker:

  1. Caesars Palace Table Games

  2. Table Games at the Cromwell

  3. Flamingo Las Vegas Table Games

  4. Harrah's Las Vegas Table Games

  5. Table Games At The LINQ

  6. Paris Las Vegas Table Games

  7. Table Games At The Rio


This game is played with a single 52-card deck and wagering chips in real casinos. Automatic shuffling machines are frequently in use, shuffling one deck while another is being used.

Three Card Poker is played online most frequently with virtual cards and chips. The amount of credit you have available for wagering is also displayed on a credit meter. Instead of using virtual cards, some casinos use streaming footage of a live dealer.


How to beat Three Card Poker is simple: You want to make the best three-card poker hand possible! There’s no exchanging or drawing more cards like “hits” like in Blackjack. It’s merely about the cards you’re initially dealt.

That makes it a "stud" poker-based game rather than "draw" poker.


Three Card Poker hand rankings are simple: You want the highest poker-ranked card(s) in your hand to win! Do note that Three Card Poker rankings are slightly different from regular poker.

  • In Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes.

  • In five-card games, flushes outrank straights.

There are more possible ways to make flushes than straights in Three Card Poker. Also, there are more ways to make straights than flushes in most other games.

Here they are ranked from best to worst:

  • Straight Flush: Three cards of consecutive value and in the same suit (i.e., Kc-Qc-Jc)

  • 3 of a Kind: Three cards that match of equal value (i.e., 8-8-8)

  • Straight: Three cards of consecutive value (i.e., 6-7-8)

  • Flush: Three cards of the same suit (i.e., Ad-9d-3d)

  • Pair: Two matching cards of equal

  • Value, plus one “kicker” (i.e., A-A-4)

  • High Card: Non-paired cards with no consecutive order or suit matching between the cards (i.e., Qc-6s-4d)

It should be noted that any A-X-X hand will defeat a K-X-X hand for a high card hand; in other words, even if you have an A-3-4, you will defeat a holding of K-Q-9, despite the possibility of a better average value for the K-9-8. Also take note that in a high card hand, if the first high card is "tied," the second high card will decide the winner, and so on.

Observe that the player with the hand with the better value inside that rank will win even if two players have the same poker hand ranking (for example, a pair) (i.e., A-A-2 beats 2-2-A, as one as a pair of Aces and the other only has a pair of 2s).

Three Card Poker Rules

1. Betting Three Card Poker offers two different betting options:

In ante-play, you will play your hand against the dealers in an effort to create the best possible poker hand.

When playing Pair Plus, your goal is to make a pair or better with your hand. (The dealer's hand does not affect this wager.)

2. Dealing: After that, the dealer deals three cards, one to each participant in the hand. If you choose the "ante-play" betting option, you are trying to outsmart the dealer, just like in blackjack, as was already described. It makes no difference if you win or lose what cards the other players have.

3. Playing Action: The players then take turns acting after receiving their cards. Either they can "play" their hand or they can throw it away.

The dealer wins the player's first ante if the player discards their hand.

The player must put forth a "Play" wager if they want to keep playing. The play bet must be the same size as the player's first ante. In live casinos, these chips often begin to roll once a player progressively organizes his hand and sets these cards face-down in the "play" area.

In online casinos, you touch or click on an icon to place a play wager, and credits are removed from your meter.

4. Winning and Payouts: The dealer then reveals their own cards, followed by those of the other players. Once everyone has decided whether to play or fold, this happens instantly online. Then the hands are compared, and any money that is due is collected or distributed:

The hand cannot be "played" if the dealer holds a Jack-high High Card hand or worse. All players who are still in the hand will push with their "play" stake but win the amount of the "ante" bet. Therefore, they simply take back the chip(s) that were initially in play and forfeit any extra winnings from this gamble.

If the dealer doesn't qualify, the player wins on the ante even if their hand is superior to the dealer. They will also "push" with their Play bet and receive their chips back at the end of the hand. (Let's say the player had T-9-7 and played when the dealer had J-4-3. The player's payout for the hand will be equal to their ante.)

Let's say the dealer holds a Queen-high or better High Card hand. When compared to the player's hand, their hand "plays" and ranks. The player wins an amount equal to their ante and play bets if their hand is superior. The player's money from these bets is collected in the event that the dealer's hand triumphs.

If you make one of the strongest hands, casinos often also pay out on the ante bonus. These straight-or-better rewards are included in the ante-play stage of the game and don't require any further bets.

The Ante Bonus payouts may resemble these, although they are subject to different payout structures:

  • Direct: 1 to 1

  • Four of a Kind: 3 to 1 (or 2 to 1 or 3 to 1)

  • 5 to 1 in a straight flush (or 3 to 1 or 4 to 1)

  • The most typical pay table offers straight flushes at 5-1, three-of-a-kind at 4-1, and straights at 1-1. But if you notice decreased rewards, don't be shocked.

Three Card Poker Rules: Pair Plus Payouts

The Pair Plus wager operates apart from the ante-play. If dealt a high card hand, the player loses the bet or wins with any pair or better. The outcome of Pair Plus hands is unaffected by the dealer's hand.

  • You are not required to defeat the dealer.

  • A pay table that is displayed on the table or online on the screen governs how winners are compensated.

Here are the regular Three Card Poker odds for Pair Plus payments typically used in America, along with other payout variations employed, even if these can vary from casino to casino and location to location:

  • Pair: one to one

  • 3 to 1 for flush (or 4 to 1)

  • Direct: 6 to 1 (or 5 to 1)

  • 30-to-1 three-of-a-kind (or 25 to 1)

  • 40 to 1 for a straight flush

The payoffs that are not in parenthesis are used in the most typical variant. In some casinos, the top payout is increased. A "mini royal" of Ace, King, and Queen of the same suit will be distinguished from other straight flushes. While they have occasionally been seen paying 100-1, mini royals typically pay 50-1.

Three Card Poker Rules: Stakes

Three Card Poker tables have minimum and maximum bet amounts. However, if the minimum bet at the table is $5, "playing" a hand of ante-play will cost you a total of $10 if you place the play bet. This includes $5 for the ante wager and $5 if you choose to keep and play your hand against the dealer. Your total risk would be $15 if you additionally placed a $5 Pair Plus wager.

The ante and play chips must always have the same numerical value while being used. They may, however, be different from the sum utilized for the Pair Plus wager.

Keep in mind that the Pair Plus wager must still fall within the acceptable ranges for table stakes.

Three Card Poker Strategy and House Edge

The best Three Card Poker strategy tells you to perform the following:

  • Play all pairs and hands with a value of Q-6-4 or better.

  • Over the long run, this ante-bet game will always offer the house a small advantage of about 2% of your total ante and play bets. On every hand, you don't place the play bet. So, 3.4 percent of the ante is another way to look at the house edge.

Depending on ante bonus payouts, that fluctuates. If straight flushes, three-of-a-kind, and straights all pay 5-1, respectively. The remaining house edges are 2.01% of the overall action or 3.4% of the ante.

The house edge on ante-play rises to 2.6 percent of total bets or 4.3 percent of antes if ante bonuses are only 3-1 on straight flushes, 2-1 on three of a kind, and 1-1 on straights.

Small adjustments in Pair Plus can have a big impact on the house's edge.

The house edge in the most popular variation in the US is 7.28 percent, with the following payoffs:

  • Straight flushes pay 40-1

  • 30-1 on a set of three cards

  • 6-1 in straight games

  • on flushes, 3-1

  • 1-1 on pairs

With only one modification, the edge falls to 2.32 percent, with flushes paying 4-1. A variation that is occasionally played in Europe offers payouts of 35-1 for straight flushes, 33-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for straights, 4-1 for flushes, and 1-1 for pairs. The house has a 2.7 percent advantage.

Three Card Poker: Etiquette

Regarding etiquette in Three Card Poker, there are three things to note:

  • Playing your hand: If you want not just to ante up but also play your hand, arrange your cards from low to high, place them horizontally face-down in the “play” box, and then place your “play” wager on top of your cards.

  • Folding your hand: If you anted-up but don’t want to “play” your hand, you can toss your cards forwards towards the dealer.

  • Tipping: It’s customary to tip dealers when you win. While the amount and frequency you tip are up to you, 10% is usually acceptable.

  •  (Remember that you can use $1 chips if you’re playing with $5 chips.) After a hand, to tip your dealer, place it to the right of any of the betting circles: Pair Plus, Ante, or Play.

Alternatively, you can bet for the dealer. In the United States, this form of tipping is the most common. Place an additional ante directly in front of your ante space. Then if you win, so does the dealer.


1. What Are The 3 Card Poker Payouts?

Games of 3 Card Poker offers a wide range of possible payouts. We've chosen to list the odds for the most frequent payouts here. Although some casinos pay out on both bets, if the dealer doesn't qualify with a queen high, you will win 1 to 1 on your ante and the raise bet will be returned as a push.

2. What Is The House Edge?

Three-card poker has a house advantage of 3.37 percent on the ante and raises bets and 7.28 percent on pair plus bets. When it comes to casino table games, this is fairly high. With one zero, roulette has a house edge of 2.7 percent, blackjack has a house edge of 0.28 percent, baccarat has a house edge of 1.06 percent on the banker, and craps has a house edge of 1.36 percent on the don't pass line and don't come bets.

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

The most common and effective move in three-card poker is to raise if you have at least a Queen, a Six, and a Four. The highest card is ranked first, followed by the second highest and finally the third-highest card in the game, which is played according to poker hands