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.
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 pay-table 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%.
An ante bonus is what it sounds like – a 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