Three-card poker is a card game with related side bets that are based on poker hand rankings. It was invented by Derek Webb in 1994 and was granted a patent three years later. A 52-card deck is used to play the game of 3-card poker heads-up between the player and the dealer. 

The Objective of the 3-card poker 

The objective of this game is simple and straightforward, all you have to do is to beat the dealer’s 3-card poker hand.  

The hand rankings in three-card poker are very similar to those in five-card poker. The only distinction is that each hand can only contain a maximum of three cards. For instance, a royal flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 in five-card poker) is now Ace, King, and Queen, while straight flushes, flushes, and straights only need three cards to qualify as such. 

3-card Poker Hands Ranking   

Learn how to play 3-card poker  

As mentioned, the hand-ranking system in 3-card poker is similar to most types of poker. The only difference is that only 3 cards are used to form a poker hand in this variation. Here’s the complete list of poker hands used in 3-card poker, ranked from best to worst:    

  1. Mini Royal Flush – A set of cards with an ace, king, and queen all belonging to the same suit. 
  1. Straight Flush – A group of three cards in the same suit ranked consecutively.  
  1. Three of a Kind – A grouping of three identically ranked cards in a hand.  
  1. Straight – A three-card combination in which the suits are different but the rankings are consecutive.  
  1. Flush – A three-card combination from the same suit that is not ranked consecutively. 
  1. One Pair – A hand that consists of two cards of the same rank.  
  1. High Card – A three-card hand that does not fit into any of the hands mentioned above. 

Betting rounds of 3-Card poker  

The ante  

The ante is used to start a game of three-card poker. The player places this wager as their initial wager before the cards are dealt. 

Side bets 

Three-card poker side bets like pair plus and 6-card bonus are optional, but they must be placed at the same time as the ante. To learn how they operate and the win odds they provide, scroll down. 

The deal 

The dealer then deals three cards to each player face up and three cards to themselves face down. 

Fold or play? 

The player now examines their hand and decides whether to play or fold based on the strength of their hand. The ante bet is forfeited when you fold. If the player chooses to play, they place a second wager on how the hand will turn out that is equal in value to the ante. 

The reveal 

The dealer finally shows their 3-card poker hand. At this point, the dealer’s hand—which has a queen as its highest ranking card but no pairs, flushes, straights, three-of-a-kind, or straight flushes—is only compared with the player’s to determine the winner if it is queen-high or better. The player’s ante bet is paid out at evens if the dealer’s hand is worse than queen-high. The reveal in 3-card poker could result in any of the following: 

  • Dealer has less than a queen high – Ante bet paid out at evens, play bet is returned 
  • Dealer and player hands are of equal rank – Ante and play bets are returned to the player 
  • Dealer hand outranks player hand – Ante and play bets lose 
  • Player hand outranks dealer hand – Ante and play bets paid out at evens 

Ante Bonus 

Numerous online casinos offer ante bonuses that don’t require additional wagers in order to win. If a player places a play bet and receives a straight flush, three of a kind, or straight from the initial deal of three cards, they will receive a bonus. Although ante bonus win odds can vary from casino to casino, they typically look like this: 

  • Straight flush – 5/1 
  • Three of a kind – 4/1 
  • Straight – Even odds 

The pair plus side bet 

This is an optional side wager that is made at the same time as the ante on the player’s 3-card poker hand. Even if the player folds their hand before placing the play bet, it still pays out. If the player is dealt a pair or better in the poker hand ranking or better, fixed odds are paid. Where you play may affect your odds, but they are probably similar to those in the following list: 

  • Mini royal flush (Ace, King, Queen of one suit) – 200/1 
  • Straight flush – 40/1 
  • Three of a kind – 30/1 
  • Straight – 6/1 
  • Flush – 3/1 
  • Pair – Even odds 

The 6-card bonus side bet 

The 6-card bonus side bet, which is also optional and placed concurrently with the ante, wagers on the best five-card poker hand that can be formed from both the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand. Once more, the wager is still paid out if the player folds their hand before placing the play bet. The following hands, constructed from the six cards dealt as follows, pay fixed odds: 

  • Royal flush – 1000/1 
  • Straight flush – 200/1 
  • Four of a kind – 50/1 
  • Full house – 25/1 
  • Flush – 20/1 
  • Straight – 10/1 
  • Three of a kind – 5/1