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3 Card Casino Poker - Strategy & Tips For Winning
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•  3 Card Poker - How To Play
•  Optimal Strategies For Success - Ante Or Pairs Plus
•  Betting Strategies
•  Bankroll Strategy
•  Video Instruction
•  Probabilities
•  Where To Play
•  Free Games & Practice
•  Tournaments
•  Progressive Jackpots
•  More Info & Resources
3 Card Casino poker is a fast-paced poker variation which is a favourite for many poker fans who like to play casino games on the side, it's a lot easier to grasp than playing other poker games such as Texas Holdem.

Playing this game is straight forward with many ways to get low value wins - and the side bets can lead to generous payouts if you hit strong hands like three of a kind or a straight flush.

You won't be winning enough to buy a car in this game, but the enjoyment level is good with regular payouts (around 25% of hands) and sometimes with good odds.
How To Play

The ‘3 Card Poker’ name is patented, you will see many versions of this game at online or bricks and mortar casinos with names such as ‘tri card’ or even ‘trey card poker’. Actually it's two games in one, with options of playing one or the other, or both. Many players love its simplicity. It's a straightforward game to play, nowhere near requiring the skill level needed in playing other poker games such as Texas Holdem.

Two bets are made before any cards are dealt, these are known as the ‘ante’ and ‘pair plus’ bets. The ante bet is against the dealer, while the ‘pair plus’ bet is independent and pays out for poker hands of 1 pair or better. After your bets are placed you and the dealer are dealt 3 cards and you must decide whether to play or fold. You don't get to see the dealers hand, so must make your decision based just on your own.

If you choose to play your hand in a 3 card poker game you must place another bet equal to the ante. Your hand is then compared to the dealer’s 3-card poker hand with 1-to-1 paid on both the ante and raise bets if you beat the dealer and the dealer’s hand ‘qualifies’. To qualify the dealer must hold queen high or better, a non-qualifying dealers hand pays you 1-to-1 on the ante bet only (the ‘play’ bet is returned) regardless of who holds the best hand.

In addition an ‘ante bonus’ is paid for straights (1-to-1), 3 of a kind (4-to-1) and straight flushes (5-to-1).

Pair plus bets are paid independently of the dealer’s hand. This side-bet pays 1-to-1 for a pair, 4-to-1 for a flush, 5-to-1 for a straight, 30-to-1 for 3 of a kind and 40-to-1 for a straight flush. The pair plus bet is optional - though you would not be happy to see a straight flush if you decline this bet while playing!
The Best Playing Strategies For 3 Card Poker

It's no fun playing casino games if you don't ever win, right? And if you do want to win some money playing 3 card poker you're going to need how to play using the the optimal strategies. Knowing what to do and when might keep you winning small amounts, and increasing your chances to ultimately hit a big winning hand.

For 3 card poker these strategies are fairly straightforward, so let's take a look at what you can do to maximize your chances.

Strategy For The Main Game - Against The Dealer

Optimum player strategy against the dealer is to make the play or raise wager with Queen-6-4 or better, though the simpler strategy of queens or higher will give similar results. In fact, the dealer himself plays with the latter strategy of those two.

Basically this means playing:

Any pair or higher
King or Ace high
Queen high, when your second highest card is a 7 or higher
Queen high, when your second card is a 6 and your third card is a 4 or higher

Of course, only playing those higher hands means folding all others, so you need to be patient and prepared to let a number of hands pass by without playing. If you don't do this, the casino edge rises to around 7.65% from about 3.3 % with the optimal strategy.

You can see that as with all negative expectation gambling games there is no definite strategy that can overcome the built in house advantage which exists in all casino games. For this reason it's very difficult, unless you're extremely lucky, to come out ahead over a period of time. This leads to many players treating 3 card poker as a form of entertainment, rather than a money making enterprise. Exactly the way you should treat all casino games in fact.

Strategy For Pair Plus

If you’re looking to get the occasional big win at 3 card poker, you'll want to be making regular use of the pairs plus bet. The ante bonus on the regular play does offer the chance of reasonable wins too - though you won't walk away a millionaire. And it's worth noting the house advantage of 2.3% in the correct types of games means you'll struggle to find other casino card games giving you as much value for money.

One thing to bear in mind about pair plus is that your wins and losses can be more volatile than in ante play.

Betting Strategy

The most common wager strategies are to play Ante and Pair Plus wagers for equal amounts, or for one of the Ante and Pair Plus wagers to be double the amount of the other one of the Ante and Pair Plus wagers.

The best way is to bet in 3 card poker is to place 100% of your total bet on the Ante, because that's where the lowest house edge is. But we've seen that Pair plus gives the higher odds - and in the rare circumstances where you get paid on the ante game but with a three of a kind hand you're going to feel a little put out if you didn't collect on it with a pair plus bet. Even so, if you can avoid the temptation then the best strategy is to do so. In the long run you'll have more chance of coming out ahead.

Bankroll Strategy

The only real decision you'll need to make in pair plus play is on how much to bet, so other useful strategies to employ revolve around money and bankroll management. You want to preserve your betting bank for as long as possible. More money means more games, and more chances to hit those 3 cards that will give you a big win.

One good way to preserve your bank is to be fully aware of how much you have won, or lost, in your current sitting. Putting aside small amounts if you're on a winning streak is a good idea.

What Else Can Help?

If you get involved in any game where the dealer shows one of his cards, there's a chance to gain a   3.5% advantage. Of course you'll need to be able to work out the best way of using that information.

Probabilities In 3 Card Poker

This section covers how to calculate the probabilities in 3 Card Poker - the likelihood of you receiving any particular winning or losing hand. Probabilities are not so important to understand here as they are when playing optimal poker strategy in other poker games.

There are 22100 ways to draw 3 cards out of a 52 card pack, so to find out the mathematical probability of getting any hand you can just divide any of the numbers denoting how many ways to get dealt that hand (below) by 22100.

Straight Flush

With 4 possible suits for a straight flush, you can get any combination from A23 to QKA, or 12 different straight flush hands. So the total number of straight flushes is 4*12=48.

Three Of A Kind

There are 13 options for getting a three of a kind hand. There are 4 ways to get 3 suits out of 4. So there are 52 potential three of a kinds.


There are 12 possible hands for a straight flush, but a straight in 3 card poker can be a hand with any suit. A straight has 3 cards, each may be one of any of the four suits. However if all three cards are of the same suit then you'll have a straight flush. 720 possible straights.


There are 4 possible suits for a flush hand. For each of the suits there are 286 ways to get 3 out of 13. But we know from the straight flush section above that there are 12 combinations which give us three connected cards, giving you a straight flush. So the hand combinations that land you a straight which isn't a straight flush is 274. So the number of flush combinations is 4 x 274, or 1096.


There are 13 possible pairs, which gives you 156 ways to land one. Within the pair there are 6 ways to get 2 suits out of the possible 4. So the total number of different pair combinations is 3744.


The number of ways to get a nothing hand (ie less than a pair) is 16440.

Where To Play 3 Card Poker

You can play 3 card poker for free or with the risk of winning or losing cash at the popular Bovada online casino, which accepts players from all over the world including the US. If you're a first time visitor to Bovada you can also pick up a welcome bonus which will give you extra playing time.

Alternatively Bet365 also offers the game in their online casino. US players not accepted.

Aside from these there are plenty of others. If you have any difficulty finding the game listed at any online casino you're visiting, it's worth remembering it may be known under different names. Different casinos operate on different platforms, the casino software that runs the games. 3 card poker may also be known as Tri Card Poker or Trey Card Poker on different platforms.


You'll find a wide range of tournaments available online covering most types of casino games. You're probably already aware of the dozens of different types of poker tournaments you can play in. Unfortunately 3 card poker tournaments are not so easy to find online, though you will find them in some land based casinos.

Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpots in 3 card poker can take different forms, depending on where you're playing.

Some casinos offer a mini bonus on the Pair Plus bet with a payout which can be as high as 50-1 on a suited QKA.

Others make good use of a progressive pot to add extra spice for players. This progressive tends to be a $1 a go optional bet that you make by selecting a button before each hand is dealt. You get the chance to win a progressive bonus if your hand comes up 3 of a kind or a straight flush. The progressive jackpot gets won if your hand turns up as a mini royal flush in spades.

Hand Payouts

Royal Flush in Spades  - Gets the progressive Jackpot
Royal Flush in hearts, diamonds, or clubs  - normally $500
Straight Flush  - normally $100
3 of a Kind - normally $50

The great thing about when a progressive is won is that all other players at the table get a share too. Known as an Envy Bonus payoff, this can be around $25 for any Royal Flush and $100 for one landed in Spades.

Clearly it's not easy to land this bet, with the percentages well against you. Not one to play regularly, but can offer a little extra excitement if you're well up on a session. With 22100 different hands possible on any draw, only 100 of these would net you the progressive payout.

If you do want to play in a progressive, the best strategy is to keep an eye on the amount in the pot, and the number of players.

With a jackpot starting at $5000 the house has an edge of 70%. As the pot increases, each additional $1000 adds an extra 4.5% advantage to you, the player. At a pot of $10,000 the odds are pretty much even, at over $11500 they start to load in your favour. If you take into account other players and the way the Envy bonus works, each other table player adds another 0.79% to your chances.

Free Games & Practice

Both the casinos listed in 'where to play 3 card poker' section above have free play sections where you can practice - but the dedicated area at has the best free games selection I could find.

More Info & Valuable Resources

The Wikipedia page on 3 card poker presents the history, playing rules, and some simple strategies in an easy to read format. It also contains a useful table showing the probabilities of achieving specific winning hands.

If you want to practice playing 3 card poker before stepping up to real money games at an online casine, there are free practice games on the WizardOfOdds website and here.

The useful site at covers the game in depth, and also mentions the subject of tournaments - which can add a little extra spice to playing the game.

And don't forget 3 card poker videos at Youtube, or social comments via Twitter or on Facebook.