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Online Three-Card Poker: A Guide to Rules and Tips

Three-Card Poker is a fast and exciting online table game that is similar to English 3-Card Brag. Players are dealt a three-card hand and must simply beat the dealer's qualifying hand.

The key to Three-Card Poker is knowing when to play (bet again), and when to fold. Do you gamble on beating the dealer regardless or just hope that he doesn't qualify?

You'll find plenty of Three-Card Poker games online in 2023. The best thing is that there are play-money versions so you can get some practise in before gambling.

This page is for you if:
  • You want to play three-card poker online
  • You want to learn the basic rules and bets
  • You are looking for tips and strategy
  • You want to find a great casino online to play at

How to Play Three-Card Poker Online

3 card poker online

At the start of the game, players place an 'ante', or an initial bet to start the game. The ante must be placed before the cards are dealt.

Each player, including the dealer, receives three cards dealt face down. Each player may then look at their cards and decide to fold or play their hand. Those players who choose to continue must place a further bet that equals their ante. At 'showdown', if your hand beats the dealer's, you win.

There is an added bet to remember before play starts, the 'Pair Plus' bet. This is an added wager which pays out before you get your cards. If you get dealt a pair or better, you win according to the payout table.

Once the players have decided what they are going to do, the dealer's cards are revealed. The dealer's hand must contain at least a Queen in order to 'qualify' and continue the game. If it does not, then the dealer folds and everyone who is still playing wins on their ante (paid at even money) and ties for the play bet, which is returned to the player.

If the dealer's hand contains at least a Queen, then that hand is played against the players. Those players with a hand that beats that of the dealer win on both their ante and play bets, both paid at even money. Those with a worse hand than the dealer lose on both ante and play bets. The rules on a tie can vary, with some claiming that players should be paid even money and others simply returning the player's bet.

Understanding Bonus Payouts

A bonus is paid on especially good hands in ante-and-play, much like in Pair Plus. These hands are a Straight Flush, a Three-Of-A-Kind or a Straight. Those players who continue into the play stage of ante-and-play qualify for the ante bonus, regardless of whether the dealer's hand qualifies or not. Again, the specific payouts on the ante differ between casinos. Once ante-and-play has been settled, the Pair Plus winnings are also paid out.

Hand Rankings:

An important thing to note about three card poker is that the rankings of certain hands are slightly different to those of other poker games.

If you're familiar with the British game, three-card Brag, you'll recognize the ranks:

Three card poker good strategy
  • Straight Flush
  • Three-Of-A-Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Pair
  • High Card

Normal payouts for a winning hand are 1/1. However, Pair Plus payouts are much better. Generally a straight flush with Pair Plus pays out 40/1, with a 'prial' (three of a kind) paying 30/1. Winning with a pair bags the player even-money (1/1).

Good Strategy

Playing with the right starting hands is key to beating the dealer. Because the dealer has to qualify, you should also be beating his lowest hand at the start.

Don't play with anything lower than a Q-x-x, therefore. In fact, fold if your hand is lower than Queen-6-4. If your hand is high, continue with the play.

You might be wondering how to determine if your hand is lower or higher than a Q-6-4. Look at your first card and compare it to the Queen. If it is higher, you play. If your first card is a Queen and your second card is greater than a 6, you would continue regardless of what the third card is. If it less than a 6, fold.

There is a second strategy, which is simpler than the Q-6-4 method and one that is used by the Dealer. Basically, you will play:

  • Any pair or higher
  • King or Ace high
  • Queen high, when your second highest card is a 7 or more
  • Queen high, when your second card is a 6 and your third card is a 4 or greater

Remember, if you only play 3-Card Poker using one of these strategies you will be folding a lot. If you don’t do this, the house edge is around 7.65%; whereas, it could be at about 3.3%.

You should also size your bets accordingly. Don't make your Pair Plus bets too big as a regular Ante bet may end up losing. It can be a good strategy to make an Ante bet double the size of the Pair Plus wager. When you play, this brings the basic bet in line with your bonus one.

The beauty of online casino games is that you can find plenty of great free-play action to practise with before committing any real money. Any of our top recommended casino sites will have Three-Card Poker tables at all stakes. Just commit a small bankroll and see how far you can go.