How to Play Three Card Poker Online

Three Card Poker rules, payouts, side bets and expected values.

Three Card Poker Rules, Payouts, Pair Plus and Expected ValuesAs far as casino table games go, they don’t get too much easier than Three Card Poker. Games that are easier tend to be a lot more boring. Baccarat is so simple, a monkey could play, but you have no control over anything; choose Player or Banker, place bet, cross fingers. The house edge may be higher, but learning how to play Three Card Poker gives you a lot more entertainment value for you wagering dollars.

There are actually two games going on in each hand of Three Card Poker. There’s the original game, known as the Ante & Play game. Then there’s the Pair Plus side bet, which is entirely separate. We’ll start with the original game rules and payouts, then move on the Pair Plus option, with all the expected values therein.

Three Card Poker Rules

To play the game, you’ll start by making a single-unit wager in the Ante circle of the table. At this point, all players, and the dealer, each receive three cards. Players will examine their cards, then decide whether to Fold or Play.

If a player Folds, they lose their Ante bet and the hand is over.

If the player Plays, they must place a second bet, equal to 2x the Ante, in the Play circle of the table.

Following a Play bet, the dealer will turn his cards face up, and the hands are compared. Based on the dealer and player’s cards, one of the follow will occur:

Dealer’s hand does not qualify (Q-X-X or higher): Ante bet wins 1-to-1, Play bet is returned.
Dealer’s hand qualifies, Player hand wins: Ante bet and Play bet are paid 1-to-1
Dealer’s hand Qualifies, Player hand loses: Ante and Play bet are both lost.
Dealer’s hand qualifies, Player hand ties: Ante and Play bet push (returned).

The overall house edge on the Ante & Play game is 3.37%.

Three Card Poker Hand Ranks and Ante Bonus

The hand ranks aren’t what you’d expect, meaning they don’t exactly follow traditional poker hand ranks. This is because there are only three cards, not five. Thus the Straight is more valuable (hard to attain) than the Flush in this game.

Hand ranks are as follows:

– Straight Flush
– Three of a Kind
– Straight
– Flush
– Pair
– High Card

If you happen to achieve a Straight or better, you’ll also be paid an Ante Bonus. This is irrespective of whether you actually beat the dealer, or if the dealer qualifies. Achieve a Straight, Three of a Kind, or Straight Flush, and you’ll be paid according to one of the following pay tables.

I’ve listed four common pay table variations, in order of house edge (least to greatest). Thus Table 1 is best, Table 4 is worst.

Ante Bonus Pay Tables

Hand Rank

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Straight Flush

5

5

4

3

Three of a Kind

4

3

3

2

Straight

1

1

1

1

House Edge

3.37%

3.61%

3.83%

4.28%

Three Card Poker Pair Plus Side Bet

The Pair Plus is an optional side bet that is dependent only on the player’s hand – nothing else. The Pair Plus bet is won or lost immediately upon revealing the player’s cards. Payouts go according to the Pair Plus pay table.

Again, actual payouts vary from one casino to the next. These four pay tables are the most common, listed from lowest to highest house edge. Table 1 is the most common, and actually has a better house edge than the Ante & Play game, so look for it!

Pair Plus Pay Tables

Hand Rank

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Straight Flush

40

35

40

35

Three of a Kind

30

33

25

25

Straight

6

6

6

6

Flush

4

4

4

4

Pair

1

1

1

1

House Edge

2.32%

2.70%

3.49%

4.58%

 

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