How To Play Three Card Poker Guide - Three Card Poker Rules

Three Card Poker is one of the most fun and popular land-based casino games, and now one of the most fun and popular games at NJ online casinos, where you can also play Live Dealer Three Card Poker. Live Dealer Three Card Poker gives NJ online casino players to experience real life Three Card Poker on their mobile devices or computers.

Three Card Poker has gained popularity since its inception in the UK in 1994, invented by Derek Webb. There are many reasons why land-based casino poker players and NJ online casino poker players flock to it:

  • It's easy to learn
  • It's simple to play
  • You play against the dealer
  • The house advantage is small and can be shrunk with simple strategies
  • There are two basic ways to play and win at Three Card Poker

NJ Online Casinos With Three Card Poker

What Is Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker, whether you play it at a land-based casino or any of the online casinos in New Jersey, is a simple, fun version of poker where you are only dealt three cards, and only play against the dealer. This way, you only have to concentrate on your hand and what the dealer has.

How To Play Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is easy to pick up, whether you're just getting into playing poker, or have been a poker player for a while but never ventured into Three Card Poker. Here are some of the basics:

  • A hand of Three Card Poker starts off with an Ante
  • The dealer will deal you three cards and the dealer will deal themselves three cards face down
  • Based on your three cards, you have to decide whether or not you'd like to match the bet of your initial Ante, or fold and surrender your initial bets. For example, if you bet $5 on the Ante and $5 on the Pair Plus Bonus, you would lose $10. If you match your Ante bet to play the hand, you could lose $15 (an extra $5 matching the initial Ante bet)
  • If you match your bet, the dealer will then turn over their cards and see whether or not they qualify. The dealer needs to have a queen high or better to qualify in order for you to get paid on your Play bet. You earn a 1 to 1 payout on your Ante.
  • When the dealer doesn't have a qualifying hand, you win even money on your Ante bet and Play bet.
  • If the dealer qualifies with a queen or higher, your hand is compared to their hand, with the best hand winning. If you have a winning hand compared to the dealer's hand, you win even money on both your initial Ante and the play bet. If the dealer has the winning hand, you lose both bets. If it's a tie, both bets are a push
  • If you have a straight or better, you will receive an Ante bonus based on Ante Bonus payouts listed under Three Card Poker Odds And Payouts
  • When you place a Pair Plus Bet, that bet is paid out depending on what kind of poker hand you have and the Pair Plus payouts, which are spelled out under Three Card Poker Odds And Payouts

Three Card Poker Terminology

  • Three Card Poker: A simple variation of poker played with a standard 52-card deck, comprised of Ante and Play and Pair Plus games
  • Ante and Play: The standard way of playing Three Card Poker where you place an Ante bet at the beginning of the game (round,) and then based on the three cards you receive, you can place a second bet called a Play bet if you feel like your hand is good enough to beat the dealer's hand. If you do not place the Play bet, you automatically surrender your Ante wager
  • Play Bet: A bet that matches your Ante wager in order to continue with the hand. Once you receive your three cards, you must determine if you want to match your Ante wager. You do this if you feel your three cards are strong enough to beat the dealer's hand
  • Pair Plus: A side bet you can play in Three Card Poker. If you place a wager on Pair Plus, you are betting that your three-card hand will make at least a pair or better. You will receive a payout based on the Three Card Poker Payout structure labeled at the table. We list the standard payouts below
  • Six Card Bonus: Another side bet. This side bet takes into account your hand plus the dealer’s hand. For example, if you have three of the same suit (i.e. clubs) and the dealer has two of that same suit (i.e. clubs,) you win the side bet. You will receive a payout based on the Three Card Poker Payout structure labeled at the table. We list the standard payouts below
  • Ante Bonus: An Ante Bonus is an extra reward given if your hand makes a straight, three of a kind or a straight flush. The payouts are less than Pair Plus or Six Card Bonus, but this reward is at no extra risk to the player. You will receive a payout based on the Three Card Poker Payout structure labeled at the table. We list the standard payouts below
  • Qualifying Hand: In order to qualify, the dealer must have at least a Queen high hand. If the dealer does not qualify, your Play wager is given back and considered a push. A player is paid 1 to 1 on their Ante.
  • Poker Combinations, in order of payout value:
    • Pair: Any two cards of the same denomination. "Pair of Tens", "Pair of Aces"
    • Flush: Three cards of the same suit, but aren’t consecutive
    • Straight: A consecutive combination of cards in any suit
    • Three of a Kind: Any three cards of the same denomination
    • Straight Flush: Three cards of the same suit, in consecutive order
    • Royal Flush (six-card bonus): Three cards of the same suit, in consecutive order from 10 to ace

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Three Card Poker Hand Rankings

These are the hand rankings for Three Card Poker, from highest to lowest. Note that they're slightly different in value from standard Five Card Poker, such as Straights being worth more than Flushes since it's harder to get a straight with three cards compared to a flush.

  • Straight Flush
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Pair
  • High Card

Type Of Three Card Poker Bets

There are a handful of bets a player should be aware of when playing Three Card Poker:

Ante and Play Bets

Playing the Ante is how you begin a round of Three Card Poker. Place your Ante wager and you will receive three cards, while the dealer will be dealt three cards face down.

Based on the strength of your three cards (based on the hand rankings in Three Card Poker Hand Rankings and the Three Card Poker Odds and Payouts,) decide whether or not you would like to place a Play bet (by matching your Ante wager) or Fold. Check out the Three Card Poker Strategy below to gain an edge on the dealer.

If you play, the Play bet matches your Ante bet and is added to the Play spot on the table. Then the dealer's cards are turned over and a final judgment is made in comparison. Unlike Pair Plus, your winnings are completely contingent on the hand the dealer has. The dealer needs to have a Queen or higher in order to qualify.

If the dealer doesn't qualify, you will be paid 1 to 1 on your Ante play, but a push on your Play bet, which means it is just returned to you. If your Ante bet was $5, then you would have won an additional $5 by beating the dealer. If the dealer qualifies and you win, you are then paid even money back on both your Ante bet and your Play bet. If you also have a straight, three of a kind, or a straight flush, you can earn additional payouts based on the Ante bonus payouts listed under Three Card Poker Odds and Payouts.

Pair Plus Bets

Pair Plus is a side bet on whether or not you will make at least a pair in your hand. You place your wager in the Pair Plus spot on the table and are dealt three cards. If you have a Pair or up, you win! You get a payout based on the table under Three Card Poker Odds and Payouts. If you don't have a Pair or more, you lose your wager.

Playing Pair Plus can make for some big winnings if you hit the right combination! Just add a wager in the Pair Plus spot on the table, along with your Ante bet to make the side bet. When the three cards are dealt, you'll win both by getting a Pair or more, as well as having better cards than the dealer (or the dealer not qualifying.) The beauty of adding a Pair Plus bet is even if you lose against the dealer, you can still win the Pair Plus bet if you have a Pair or more.

Six Card Bonus

The Six Card Bonus isn't found at every Three Card Poker table, but when it is available, it can give you another major way to win big on each dealt hand. The Six Card Bonus at land-based casinos and online casinos in New Jersey is a bonus payout that you can place a wager on, that puts your three cards in play in conjunction with the dealer's three cards. If those six cards combined gives you a three of a kind combination or more, whether or not your hand beats the dealer's hand, the payout can be massive! It starts at 8 to 1 for a Three of a Kind and goes all the way to a 1,000 to 1 payout for a Royal Flush.

Three Card Poker Odds and Payouts

Here is the breakdown for hand odds and the bonus payouts:

Three Card Poker Hand Probabilities

Hand

Chance

High Card (no pair)  

74.44%

Pair  

16.94%

Flush

4.90%

Straight

3.26%

Three of a Kind

0.24%

Straight Flush

0.22%

Ante Bonus Payouts

Hand

Payout

Straight

1 to 1

Three of a Kind

4 to 1

Straight Flush

5 to 1

Pair Plus Payouts

Hand

Payout

Pair

1 to 1

Flush

3 to 1

Straight

6 to 1

Three of a Kind

30 to 1

Straight Flush

40 to 1

Six Card Bonus Payouts

Hand

Payout

Three of a Kind

8 to 1

Straight

9 to 1

Flush

15 to 1

Full House

20 to 1

Four of a Kind

100 to 1

Straight Flush

200 to 1

Royal Flush

1,000 to 1


Three Card Poker Strategy

Most players like to play regardless of the cards they're dealt, and while you'll win a bit of money thanks to the dealer not having a qualifying hand, the house advantage still goes up if you play that way, even more than double the normal 3 percent house edge up to 7 percent. Luckily there is a standard rule of thumb that lots of players abide by to shrink that house advantage.

The Q64 Three Card Poker Strategy

In order to keep the house advantage low at land-based casinos as well as online casinos, experienced players use the Q64 strategy. While it sounds mysterious and coded, it really only stands for "Queen, Six, Four." This means when you're dealt your three cards, if you have a Queen high, followed by at least a Six and a Four or higher in the next two cards, you should place a Play bet. This will give you the best chance at beating the dealer's hand as well as allow you to receive payouts every time the dealer does not qualify.

Risks Of Playing The Pair Plus Bet, Six Card Bonus

While the payouts are very alluring for both the Pair Plus Bet as well as the Six Card Bonus, the odds aren't really in your favor to land it. However, if you can stomach the risk or keep your bet (and your expectations) low on these bonus bets, you still have a chance of getting some huge payouts.

Looking at our hand probabilities table, you can see that the chances of getting a pair or better with your three cards is around 25 percent. And if we aim for a flush or higher, it's right around 8 percent. With the Six Card Bonus, the hit frequency for three of a kind or higher is around 7.28 percent, giving the house an advantage of 6.74 percent based on our payout table listed under Three Card Poker Odds And Payouts. Strategy for both the Pair Plus Bet and the Six Card Bonus really depends on how much action you desire and how much you're able to lose. While the risk for losing streaks grows with each of these bets, if you can hit on any of the hand combinations, there's a chance to pull in five or six figures there depending on the casino.

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