Rules for Three Card Poker

In most poker games, you play against other people, but in Three Card Poker, you play against the house. However, if you've been to a land-based casino, you may have seen multiple players at the same table. Though they may appear to be playing with one another, they each are playing against the dealer's hand.

This game can yield some big payouts depending on your hand's value. Three Card Poker is also easy for new players to learn, so keep reading to find out how to win this popular casino game.

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How To Play

How To Play three card pokerThree Card Poker is a popular game at many casinos that uses a standard deck of cards. Whether in person or online, the table has room for seven people, and each player has 3 spaces labelled the ante, pair plus, and play in front of them.

To begin the game, make a bet on the ante, pair plus, or both. All bets throughout the game need to be in $5 increments, though your bets on pair plus and ante don't need to be the same amount. The 2 options do the following:

  • Ante: When making this bet, you'll be trying to get a higher hand rank than the dealer.
  • Pair Plus: In this bet, you're trying to get a pair or higher in your hand. What the dealer has is irrelevant for this option.

Rankings

Hand rankings in this game are a little different from regular poker, but they're still simple. They’re from lowest to highest:

  • High Card: Your cards aren't in consecutive order and aren't the same suit
  • Pair: Two cards that are the same number and another card
  • Flush: A hand with 3 cards that have the same suit
  • Straight: When you have 3 cards in consecutive order
  • Three of a Kind: All 3 of your cards have the same number or face on them
  • Straight Flush: When your cards have the same suit and are in consecutive order

Playing The Game

The dealer will then give you and themself 3 face-down cards. Depending on your bet, you'll either be trying to beat the dealer or get above a pair. If there are other players at the table, their cards are irrelevant to your goal. Once you have your cards, you can do 1 of 2 things:

  • Discarding Your Hand: If you choose this option, the dealer wins your initial bet.
  • Playing Your Hand: To keep playing, you need to place a play bet that matches your first bet. You'll put your chips down after you've had a chance to view your cards and put them in sequential order. You'll also place your cards face down in the play area with your chips.

Winning

The game's final stage is to reveal your cards, with the dealer doing the same right after. Then, finally, each hand is compared, and the winner gets the collected amount of money:

  • The dealer's hand doesn't qualify to be played if it’s a J-high High Card hand or a lower value. In this case, you and everyone else at the table with a qualifying hand will win their chips back but won't win any additional money. However, if the dealer's hand is better than yours but doesn't qualify, you'll still win your chips back.
  • When the dealer has a hand of Q-high High Card or higher value, their hand plays and is compared to yours. If your hand has a higher value, you win an amount equal to your ante and play bets. But, if the dealer's hand has more value, they'll collect the money from your stakes.

Since the pair plus bet isn't dependent on the dealer, the dealer will collect your chips if they aren't a pair or higher. Thus, if you have a higher value hand, you’ll be paid the corresponding winning amount. In the next section, we'll go over the most common payout structures.

Payouts

PayoutsPayouts for winning are different at each casino for pair plus bets, but below is the most common ratio and a common variation:

  • Straight Flush: 40:1
  • Three of a Kind: 30:1
  • Straight: 6:1
  • Flush: 3:1
  • Pair: 1:1

Many casinos will offer payouts for ante bets as well when you have a high hand rank. As a result, the payout ratio often looks like the following, though it differs depending on where you're gambling:

  • Straight Flush: 5:1
  • Three of a Kind: 4:1
  • Straight: 1:1

Wager Limits

Each casino you play at will have a set minimum and maximum bet amount for Three Card Poker. So, for example, if a table has a $5 minimum playing 1 hand will cost at least $10. Your ante bet, and then your play bet, must be the same amount. However, the pair plus stake can be a different amount as long as it's within the limits set by the casino.

Table Etiquette

Table EtiquetteThere are a few things you should keep in mind when playing Three Card Poker regarding its etiquette:

  • Folding Your Hand: Gently toss your cards towards the dealer if you made an ante bet and decide to fold. You can also put your cards under the chips you bet and slide them to the dealer together.
  • Playing Your Hand: After you ante and decide to play your hand, make sure you organize your cards from low to high. Then place the cards face-down in the play section horizontally with your chips on top of them.
  • Tipping: When a player wins, it's common for them to tip the dealer. It's up to you to decide how much to tip, though many players go with 10%. To leave a tip, place the chip to the right of the betting spaces after the hand is finished.

Different House Rules

The main rules of Three Card Poker will stay the same no matter where you play. However, many casinos will have a set of house rules; some of the differences you'll see are:

  • Hole Card Sharing: Some casinos have strict policies on players sharing hands. While other places will let all players at the table see each other's hands and help each other make decisions while they play.
  • Simultaneous Hands: This rule determines if you're allowed to play more than one hand at a time. Some casinos will let players play multiple hands with different bet types at the same time.
  • Mandatory Bet: At a few casinos, you'll be required to make an ante bet to start the game, and the pair plus is an optional wager. On the other hand, some places allow you to make either stake and sometimes both simultaneously.

Conclusion

After reading this article, we hope that you now know how to play Three Card Poker. It's easy to learn and fun to play once you get the hang of it. When you start playing at a casino, make sure to find out what the house rules are, and you're good to go.

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