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Arguably the most iconic card game there is; 3 card poker dates back further than most would realise. A game with a staggering number of variants; one of the most coveted forms of poker is 3 card poker – a version which is believed to date as far back as the original. The ‘casino’ variant of the game is believed to have first arisen back in 1994 and was conceptualised player Derek Webb, a keen player who envisaged a form of his beloved game which combined the prolonged excitement of Hold ‘em with the speedy nature of other casino floor games.

An image of 3-card-poker gameplay

3 Card Poker Rules

3 card poker rules act to incorporate a total of two separate modes of play. Namely, these are the ante and play – a basic bet in which the player wagers that their hand will trump the dealers; and Pair Plus ­– a bet which depends on the quality of the players hand regardless of what the dealer possesses. In a little more detail, here are the intricacies of each:

3 Card Poker Ante and Play

Following each player who has wagered an ante bet being dealt three cards as well as the dealer, a round of betting commences, with amounts required to be equal to the ante. Alternatively, they may choose to fold.

After this initial round of betting, the dealers hand is revealed and a ‘showdown’ commences. This is where things can get rather tricky for a newcomer, so it’s just as well you’re reading this write-up on 3 card poker explained.

  • When the dealer lacks a Queen high or better (King, Ace) – the ante bet is paid to the player and their wager from the betting round post-deal is returned.
  • When the dealer has a Queen high or higher and the hand on the part of the player beats that of the dealer – both the ante and the post-deal bet are paid out.
  • When the dealer has a Queen high card or higher and both hands are equal both the ante and the post-deal bet amount are returned.
  • In the event that the dealer possesses a Queen high or better and the player holds a hand that is less valuable than the dealers all is lost!

Hands are ranked in a similar fashion to other forms of poker, however, are more restricted given the smaller amount of cards available to a player per-hand.

In order of most valuable to least valuable hand:

3 Card Poker Straight Flush

The attainment of three cards which are of a matching suit and run in a consecutive order – e.g. four, five and six of clubs. As is the case in other forms of the game, the Ace can either act as a low card with the value of 1 or high with the value of 11.

3 Card Poker Straight

The attainment of three cards in a consecutive order.

3 Card Poker Flush

The attainment of three cards of the same suit – e.g. three, ten and King of hearts.

3 Card Poker Pair

The attainment of two cards of equal value – for example a five of clubs and a five of hearts. While the third card does not play a part in the hand – it, as ever, acts as a ‘kicker’- its’ value to be fallen back on in the event that another player or the dealer holds a pair of the same value.

3 Card Poker High Card

Simply the highest card of the three held by a player.

And so there it is, hopefully enough information to have you on your merry way to a 3 card poker fortune in absolutely no time at all! Hopefully this hasn’t come across as too much of a ‘3 card poker for dummies’ type write-up, but sometimes that’s just what is needed!