Three Card Poker is established as one of the most popular online casino games. It’s relatively simple rules and exciting nature has ensured that it has a presence on virtually all online casinos. Three Card Poker is ideal for beginners and also offers the prospect of some very nice returns.

Three Card Poker is a variation on the original game of Poker. It has proved ideal for the transition to online gambling on the Internet. Modern variations include ‘Prime Three Card Poker’ where the Prime wager can be placed before the cards are dealt and pays on the colour of the player’s cards. Another variation is 'Six Card Bonus' in which the players are paid out based on the best five-card hand that can be made using any combination of their three cards and the dealer's three cards.


The history of Poker can be traced back around 400 years to a number of European card games. The most popular belief is that French soldiers adopted a five-card game called “As Nas” from their Persian allies during the 17th century. They modified the rules by introducing some bluffing and changed the name to ‘Poque’. French settlers then took this version to the Louisiana Territory where it became known as ‘Poker’.

However, experts believe that Three Card Poker was not derived from Poker at all but traces back to a four-card game played in the Renaissance called ‘Primero’. This game developed in Elizabethan Britain to become a three-card game called ‘Brag’. This game remained popular in England into the 20th century and is thought to be the inspiration for British professional poker player Derek Webb to create a new casino table game in the 1990’s. This would eventually become known as “Three Card Poker.”

How To Play

The hand rankings for Three Card Poker differ from many of the other poker games available. The order of ranking of the hands is as follows: Straight Flush, Three of a Kind, Straight Flush, Two of a Kind (Pair), Single (High Card).

All Three Card Poker tables offer two games, ‘Pair Plus’ and ‘Ante and Play’. In most casinos, players can choose to play one version or both games during any round of Three Card Poker. The Pair Plus wager is paid on a pay scale basis that the player hand will be a pair or better. The Ante and Play wagers play in competition on the player hand against the dealer hand. After all Ante and Pair Plus wagers are placed, three cards are dealt to each player and also to the dealer.

Players that have placed the Ante wager must then decide whether to fold or continue in the game by placing a Play wager equal to the Ante. Hands are then revealed and the wagers are settled. The dealer hand must be Queen high or better for the dealer hand to play. If the dealer does not play then there is no action on Play wagers and Ante wagers are paid at 1 to 1. If the dealer does play, then the dealer and player hands are compared. If the player hand loses, both the Ante and Play wagers lose. If the player hand wins both, the Ante and Play wagers are paid at 1 to 1. If the hands are tied then there is no action on the Ante and Play wagers.

There is also the Ante Bonus which is paid to the Ante wager for a straight or better. This is paid on a pay scale and regardless of whether the dealer plays or whether the dealer or player has the best hand.

The Pair Plus wager loses if the player has less than a pair and wins with a pair or better. The payoff applies regardless of the dealer hand as the Pair Plus wager is not in competition against the dealer hand.

Tips & Tricks

To master the game of Three Card Poker, it is vital to understand when to stay or fold. While playing Three Card Poker, you have to keep a cool head and take only calculated risks.

The house will have an average advantage of 3.5% over the other players, but the dealer needs a Queen or higher to qualify. You will have to make the decision to either bet or fold. If you are not confident that you have a chance in winning the hand, folding is clearly the most sensible option. Remember you are not in competition with the other players in Three Card Poker. You only need to focus on beating the dealer. A general rule is that a hand lower than a Queen, Six and Three is not sufficient to justify a bet.

As with any form of gambling, you should set aside a sum that you are prepared to lose. You should also take your time to familiarise yourself with the game and get plenty of practise before investing. Most casino sites offer a free trial facility and you can use this to test various strategies and methods prior to playing “for real”.

Aggressive play is never the best strategy in Three Card Poker. You should be prepared to play conservatively to avoid being tempted into betting too heavily on low value hands. It also pays to give yourself regular breaks to assess your situation. Three Card Poker is a fast moving game and it is easy to get frustrated if things start to go against you. A few minutes away from the table will allow you to gather your thoughts and return with a fresh outlook on the game.

Once you have played enough practise games and feel confident that you are ready to play for cash, remember to start with low stakes. You may feel as though you are prepared but the pressure increases markedly once there is real money at stake. You should also restrict the amount of time that you play. The temptation is always to stay with it when you are on a winning run but you will benefit in the long term if you can learn to walk away when you are ahead.