There are numerous different types of poker games that have been developed over the years. Aside from Three Card Poker you also have Texas Hold’em, which is the most widely played form of poker, both in casinos and online.

Other variations include Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Draw, Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Hi-Lo and Caribbean Stud Poker.

Each variant has its own set of rules and strategies, providing players with a wide range of options and experiences in the world of poker. But if you’ve already mastered those versions, or at least know enough to get by, then you’ll want to learn more about Three Card Poker.

So let’s start with the basics.

How To Play Three Card Poker?

Three Card Poker is a popular casino card game that combines elements of poker and traditional casino games. It is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and can be found in both land-based and online casinos.

The objective of Three Card Poker is to have a higher-ranking hand than the dealer’s hand. The game begins with each player placing an initial bet, known as the “ante.” The dealer then deals three cards face-down to each player and themselves.

Once the players have received their cards, they can evaluate their hands and decide whether to continue playing or fold.

If a player decides to fold, they forfeit their initial bet and are out of the current round. If a player chooses to continue playing, they must place an additional bet, called the “play” bet, which is typically equal to the ante bet.

After all players have made their decisions, the dealer reveals their cards. To qualify, the dealer must have a hand that is at least a queen-high or better.

  • If the dealer doesn’t qualify, players who chose to play receive even money on their ante bets, while the play bets push (meaning they neither win nor lose).
  • If the dealer qualifies and has a better hand than a player, the player loses both their ante and play bets.
  • If the dealer qualifies and a player has a higher-ranking hand, the player wins even money on both their ante and play bets.

In addition to the ante and play bets, Three Card Poker also offers an optional side bet known as the Pair Plus bet.

Difference In Three Card Poker

Three card poker, or Tri card poker as it is also known, was invented by Derek Webb in the 1990s. Webb’s aim was to create a poker inspired game that was faster paced.

When creating the game, Webb had three main aims. The rules needed to be easy to understand as this would help the game grow. It needed big payouts to attract new players. And finally, a house edge large enough to attract casino owners.

The game was first taken on in a casino in Mississippi. Webb struggled to sell it to other casinos and had to train dealers himself in Mississippi. But the game’s popularity grew and after a successful period in America, three card poker was introduced in the UK in 2002.

It is unlike other variants of the poker game in that it is essentially made up of two distinct games – ‘Pair Plus’ and ‘Ante and Play’. Players bet on either or both before the deal commences and may vary the size of each bet independent of each other.

Pair Plus Bet

The Pair Plus bet is an optional side bet in the game of Three Card Poker. It is independent of the main game, where players compete against the dealer’s hand.

Here’s a detailed description of the Pair Plus bet:

Placement of the Bet

To make a Pair Plus bet, players must place their chips in the designated Pair Plus betting area on the table. This bet is separate from the initial ante and play bets.


The Pair Plus bet is based solely on the player’s own hand and does not involve competing against the dealer or other players. The objective is to have a hand that contains a pair or better.


The payout for the Pair Plus bet is determined by the strength of the player’s hand, according to a predetermined payout table.




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The specific table may vary slightly depending on the casino, but generally, the payouts are as follows:

  • Pair: A hand containing a pair (e.g., two 3s) typically pays 1 to 1
  • Flush: A hand with three cards of the same suit pays higher, often around 4 to 1
  • Straight: A sequence of three consecutive cards (e.g., 4, 5, 6) may pay around 6 to 1
  • Three of a Kind: A hand with three cards of the same rank (e.g., three 8s) usually pays a higher amount, such as 30 to 1
  • Straight Flush: The highest-ranking hand in the Pair Plus bet, consisting of three consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g., 6, 7, 8 of hearts). This hand typically pays around 40 to 1 or more

Pair Plus and Main Game

It’s important to note that the Pair Plus bet does not affect the outcome of the main game against the dealer. The player can win or lose the Pair Plus bet independently of their success in the main game.

Even if the player folds in the main game, they can still win the Pair Plus bet if they have a qualifying hand.

Strategy Considerations

The Pair Plus bet is purely based on luck, as it solely relies on the player’s own hand. Since it doesn’t involve any decision-making or strategy, players may choose to place this bet for added excitement or potential higher payouts.

However, it’s worth noting that the Pair Plus bet typically has a higher house edge compared to the main game.

Ante and Play

Ante and Play is the second game in Three Card Poker and is a bit more challenging than Pair Plus.

Before any cards are dealt, the player places an Ante wager. Three cards are then dealt both to the player and the dealer.

The player then has to decide whether to fold or raise by putting a second bet in the ‘Play’ area.

If the player folds then all bets made are lost, including the Pair Plus wager. If the player raises, then play goes to the dealer, who now has to show his cards, and the hands are compared.

For the dealer to qualify he has to achieve a Queen high or better.

  • If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the Ante bet is paid off at 1 to 1 and the Play bet is returned to the Player
  • If the dealer’s hand qualifies, but the player wins, both the Ante bet and Play bet is paid out at 1 to 1
  • Then, if the dealer’s hand qualifies and wins the player loses both Ante and Play wagers
  • Finally, if the dealer’s hand qualifies but the player and dealer tie both the Ante and Play wagers remain unaffected (push).

The Ante bet has a special bonus which is independent of the dealer’s hand. Typical payouts for the Ante bonus are Straight Flush: 5 to 1, Three of a Kind: 4 to 1 and Straight 1 to 1.

What Is A Flush In Three Card Poker?

In Three Card Poker, a flush is a hand consisting of three cards of the same suit. It is one of the possible hand rankings in the game.

Here’s a detailed explanation of a flush in Three Card Poker:

Definition: A flush is formed when all three cards in a player’s hand are of the same suit. The suit can be hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades.

The specific rank or value of the cards in a flush does not matter, as long as they are of the same suit.

For Example

  • Ace of spades, 7 of spades, 3 of spades
  • Queen of diamonds, 9 of diamonds, 4 of diamonds
  • 10 of clubs, 8 of clubs, 2 of clubs

Strength of the Hand: In the standard hand ranking hierarchy of Three Card Poker, a flush ranks higher than a straight and lower than a three of a kind.

Comparison to Other Hands: When comparing flush hands, the highest-ranking card in the flush is considered first.

If two or more players have a flush, the player with the highest-ranking card in their flush wins. If the highest cards are the same, the second-highest cards are compared, and so on.

In a situation where all three cards in the flush are the same, it is a tie, and the pot is split among the players with the flush.

A flush in Three Card Poker is a hand that adds excitement to the game, and it can result in a winning payout based on the casino’s rules and payout structure.

Prime And Six Card Bonus

With all games comes slight variations and tweaks. In the UK Prime Three Card Poker is one of them.

In this game, the wager is placed prior to the cards being dealt and is a bet on the colour of the cards. If all three cards are the same colour, the bet is paid off at 3:1. If the dealer’s hand is included and six cards are the same colour, the bet is paid at 4:1.

Six card bonus is a pay-out bet on a combination of the dealer and the player’s hand. The best 5 card poker hand that can be made. The pay-offs for this version vary based on the hand that is made.

Three Card Poker, like most casino poker games, is simple to play. However, is difficult to win at it consistently.

It’s a great game if you are new to gambling, as it gives you an idea of how things work. With Three Card Poker there is also the added advantage of the house having a low edge of 2.5%