3 Card Poker Online: an Expert Guide

Posted by Kevin King . Last updated:

If you like games with fast action and quick hands, online 3 card poker is right for you. Learning how to play is so easy, it only takes about a dozen hands to know exactly how to play.

Our expert guide to online 3 card poker covers:

  • 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 US players:

How to Play 3 Card Poker Online

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 it is an easy game to learn.

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

a royal flush - the 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of Hearts - sit next to poker chips

How To Play 3 Card Poker

Let our expert Tommy Green give you a detailed breakdown of how to play 3 Card Poker. Our how-to video teaches you everything you need to know related to hand rankings, betting strategy and the differences between an ante + play bet and a play plus bet.

Video for

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 in-person casinos have a required minimum bet of somewhere between $5 and $10.

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

The Deal

After antes, 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 wants to proceed, they’ll need to make a play bet. A play bet must equal 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 reveals 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.

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.

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

Ante Bonus

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
a man holding two playing cards places poker chips onto a table

The History of Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is a relatively new, extremely casino-friendly version of poker, and originated in 1994. Billed as the kind of poker game than can be played at the speed of other tables games such as Blackjack or Roulette, Three Card Poker initially relied on payout sixing, simple rules, and a high enough house edge to attract both the house and the players to sustain popularity.

When you play Three Card Poker, it’s just you and the dealer, much like those aforementioned casino table games. After the initial bets are wagered, you’ll be dealt three cards, as will the dealer and any other players taking on the deck in that hand. Each of you are only playing against the dealer, just like in Blackjack.

You can either fold your cards or continue to play by wagering again, with the dealer’s hand needing to be queen high or better for the dealer to play along.

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 straight flush 0.22%
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same value cards-three-of-kind 0.24%
Straight Three sequential cards straight 3.26%
Flush Three cards of the same suit flush 4.96%
Pair Two cards of the same value cards-one-pair 16.94%
High card None of the above; defer to the highest-value card in your hand five playing cards, all different 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

More Games Like 3 Card Poker

icon of three playing cards next to a stack of cash

Real Money Casinos

Play for real USD at our favorite real money poker sites.

a white icon of a hand holding a mobile phone with a playing card in the center

Best Mobile Poker Sites

Fast and fun poker from the palm of your hand.

two white playing cards dealt like a game of blackjack - one face up, one face down

Online Blackjack

A classic table game, players of 3 card poker will love online blackjack.

3 Card Poker Online FAQs

Kevin King

The godfather of Gamble Online himself, Kevin King has been writing about the online gaming space for virtually as long as its existed. Motivated by the online space's intimidating barrier for entry, Kevin created the site to make online gaming understandable, accessible, and safe for everyone.

Back To Top
Back To Top