HOW TO PLAY: Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is one of the hottest table games right now. It is distributed by Bally Technology. One of the reasons it has become so popular is because it is an easy game to learn and the payouts are high when big hands hit.

Three Card Poker starts with players placing a wager. Players may choose between Pair Plus, ante, or betting on both. Most place a bet on both. Someone that wants to play just one should choose the Pair Plus. The payouts are larger and there is no further action after placing this bet, meaning there can be no mistakes made on the skill side of the game.

Each player is dealt three cards. The dealer is also dealt three cards that are placed face down. Players pick up their hands and decide whether they would like to play or fold.

A player should raise if the hand is queen, six, four or better. This means that the highest card in the hand is a queen, king or ace. If the highest card is a queen, the second highest card needs to be at least a six. The third card should not be a two or three if the other two cards are a queen and six.

Any pair, straight, flush, straight flush or three of a kind should also be played. Any other hand should be folded.


Any hand that should be played will require a raise. This means that the original ante bet must be matched and placed behind it. The cards are then placed under the ante bet.


The dealer will show all his cards after all players have acted. The dealer must have a queen-high or better to qualify. If the dealer qualifies, the player must beat the house hand. If the dealer wins, the player loses both the ante and the raise. If the player wins, the house will pay both the ante and raise. If the dealer does not qualify with a queen-high or better, the ante bet is paid and the raise pushes.

One important difference between Three Card Poker and standard poker is that a straight ranks higher than a flush. That is because there are 720 combinations to make a straight in Three Card Poker and 1096 possible flush combinations.

Ante Bonus

A player that makes a straight or better will receive an ante bonus, even if the dealer has a better hand. The ante bonus pays:

  • Straight flush: 5-1
  • Three of a kind: 4-1
  • Straight: 1-1

Pair Plus

The Pair Plus is an optional side bet that pays when a player is dealt a hand of one pair or better. This wager wins regardless of whether the player wins the hand.

Pair Plus payouts are:

  • Straight flush: 40-1
  • Three of a kind: 30-1
  • Straight: 6-1
  • Flush: 4-1
  • Any pair: 1-1

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