3 Card Poker Online in Canada: an Expert Guide

Posted by James Guill

If you like games with fast action and quick hands, online 3 card poker is the right game for you, and learning how to play is easy. By the time you get a dozen hands under your belt, you’ll know exactly how to play.

Our expert guide to online 3 card poker will cover:

  • Where to play
  • How to play 3 card poker online
  • 3 card poker rules
  • 3 card poker hand rankings
  • Proven 3 card poker strategy
  • A glossary of key terms and FAQs

Where to Play 3 Card Poker Online

Here are the top online 3 card poker casinos our team of experts recommend for Canadian players:

How to Play 3 Card Poker Online

A relatively recent advent, online 3 card poker is a modern table game based on traditional poker. While there aren’t 3 card poker variations, you may see the game listed as tri-card poker at some online casinos. At first glance it might seem strange or unfamiliar if you have never played the game, but is really a very simple to learn.

The goal is simple: you want to make a better 3 card poker hand when you play against the dealer – your only opponent.

3 Card Poker Rules

Ante Wager

Each hand of three card poker begins with players making an ante wager. Online ante wagers can be as low as $1, while most live casinos have a required minimum bet of somewhere between $5 and $10.

Once each player has made their ante wagers, the cards are dealt.

The Deal

After placing ante bets, the players and the dealer are each dealt three cards. Each player’s cards will be face up, while the dealer’s hand is dealt face down.

Fold or Play Bet

At this point, players have two options: make a ‘play bet’ or fold. If a player folds, they forfeit their ante, and the hand is over for them.

If a player chooses not to fold, they’ll need to make a play bet. A play bet is a wager equal to the player’s ante, and by making a play bet the player is choosing to remain in the hand.

Like in other poker games, players should consider folding if their hand is weak, and should make a play bet if they feel they have a chance of winning. 3 card poker strategy suggests that players should play all hands greater than Queen, Six & Four.

The Reveal & Dealer Qualifier

Assuming there is still a player left in the game – i.e. at least one player made a play bet – the dealer will reveal their hand.

In order for the dealer to play, their hand must be Queen-high or better. This means that the dealer must have at least a Queen, or a better poker hand, in order to remain in the game. Note that the probability of the dealer receiving at least Queen high is approximately 70%, meaning that they’ll qualify more often than not.

If the dealer does not qualify, the player’s original ante will be paid out at 1:1, and their play bet will tie (a “push”), meaning the money would be returned to the player.

If the dealer does qualify, there is a showdown round similar to other poker games, in which the player’s hand is compared against the dealer’s. In this instance, if the player’s hand beats the dealer’s, both the ante and the play bets are paid out at odds per the game’s pay table.

If the dealer beats the player’s hands, the dealer wins the player’s ante and play bets. More on 3 card poker hand rankings in a minute.

Bet Types in 3 Card Poker

Most players in 3 card poker stick to the basic bets listed above. As we mentioned, the payout rates vary by casino and by individual game, so be sure to check the game’s paytable to fully understand the specific odds.

There are, however, some additional bet types that are worth consideration.

The Pair Plus Bet

A pair plus bet is an optional wager that can be placed when a player makes their ante wager. This is a wager that bets that the player’s hand will be a pair or better, and this bet type pays out if the player’s hand contains at least a pair of twos (or better).

The payout for this bet type will apply regardless of the dealer’s hand, as this bet is simply made on the player’s hand itself – the dealer’s hand is irrelevant.

Again, payouts vary from table-to-table, but be aware that the pair plus bet has relatively low odds, at roughly 17%.

Ante Bonus

An ante bonus is what it sounds like – a casino bonus payout paid on a player’s ante wager if their hand is a straight or better. Like the pair plus bet, ante bonuses are paid out regardless of the dealer’s hand. Payouts may vary slightly, but ante bonuses are typically paid out as such:

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

3 Card Poker Hand Rankings & Probability

Like any poker game, when playing 3 Card Poker, it is important to understand what beats what.

The same terminology is used – straight flush, straights and pairs – the hands simply have a different ranking.

Here are the possible 3 card poker hands, ranked from best to worst:

Name Description Example Probability

Straight Flush

Three sequential cards of the same suit five playing cards - a 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 of spades 0.22%

Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same value five playing cards - three 5s, a 6, and a 2 0.24%


Three sequential cards five playing cards - a 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 of various suits 3.26%


Three cards of the same suit five playing cards - queen, jack, 7, 4, & 2, all hearts 4.96%


Two cards of the same value five playing cards - two Kings, a 7, 3, & 2 of various suits 16.94%

High card

None of the above; defer to the highest-value card in your hand five playing cards of different suits - king, queen, 7, 3 & 2 74.39%

3 Card Poker Strategy

a hand returning two playing cards

Know When to Fold

Good poker players know that folding isn’t the same as losing. We recommend folding when your hand is worse than Queen-6-4.

Anti pair 2 Green cards spade face up

Avoid Pair Plus Bets

While the extra payout is nice, the likelihood of winning on a pair plus bet is approximately 17% – too low to recommend playing.

a stack of coins, a calculator and a piece of paper

Bankroll Management is Key

We can’t say it enough – you need a bankroll strategy. Don’t bet emotionally, don’t chase losses, don’t play with more than you can afford to lose, and stick to your budget.

3 Card Poker Glossary

3 Card Poker FAQs

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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