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The existence of so many different variations of poker games out there speaks volumes of its enduring popularity that stands firmly established to this day and age. But, if you’ve grown tired of playing Texas Hold’Em, and you’re looking for a simpler alternative, considering playing Three Card Poker might be worthwhile.

Three Card Poker is a quick and simple casino game originally created by Derek Webb in 1994. His stated goal was to create a version of the game that would match the speed of other table games. And the way he wanted to achieve that was to get the right mix of three factors that make any casino game stand out. Those factors including easy-to-understand rules, large payouts for players, and enough of a house edge for casinos to show interest. This text will try to explain these rules to an even simpler level.

Rules of Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is a variation of a classic stud poker game that comes with a standard 52-card deck. As the name suggests you play it with three cards and no community ones like in Texas Hold’Em or other versions.

What’s also different from regular poker is that you play against the house, and not against other players. This in turn makes it similar to blackjack because you only have to worry about the dealer’s cards.

If you are a guy who doesn’t like the competitive aspect of Texas Hold’Em and similar poker versions but would rather empty only casinos’ coffers this game is a perfect choice.

The Gameplay

The game starts with every player making their bets known as “Ante”. One can also place his bet on something called “Pair Plus”. Betting on Pair Plus allows players to wager whether they will get a hand of pair or better, or not.

After that is done, both the players and dealer are dealt three cards face-down. The players then view their cards and if they believe they can beat the dealer’s hand they can make a wager equal to their Ante bet. Otherwise, they may choose to fold wherein they lose both the original bet along with the optional one if played.

Once the bets are in place, the dealer turns their cards over and arranges them into the best possible poker hand. He needs to have a hand of queen-high or better to qualify. If he doesn’t, all ante bets are paid to players in a 1:1 ratio, and play wagers are returned to the players. But if he does qualify, his hand will be compared to the players’, and whoever has a higher hand wins. If the dealer qualifies but his hand is tied with the players’, the bets are pushed.

Hand Rankings in Three Card Poker

The important thing to know, since you are betting on the quality of your hand, is how the hand rankings work in Three Card Poker. The hand rankings are only slightly different from ordinary poker rankings since the hand is comprised of three cards instead of five. The main difference being that straight is worth more than a flush because of the 3-card hand. Otherwise, the cards are in highest to lowest order.

And this is how that order looks like:

  • High card
  • One pair
  • Flush (three cards of the same suit)
  • Straight (three cards of consecutive rankings, i.e., 5, 6, 7)
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight flush (three consecutive cards of the same suit)

When both the dealer and player have the same high-rank hand like straight or flush, the one with the highest card in combination wins. King-high flush will always beat a Queen-high flush and the suits never determine the winner in this type of game.

Types of Bets in Three Card Poker

There are four possible types of bets you can wager in Three Card Poker. You can either bet against the dealer, on the value of your own three-card hand, or on both. Eventually, some casinos may offer bonus payouts for certain wagers against the Dealer.

Ante Wager

As we have mentioned above Ante is a type of bet placed against the dealer before the cards are dealt and within the minimum and maximum wagers the table requires. After looking at their cards, players other fold or place an equal wager on the play spot if they think their hand is strong enough.

Pair Plus Wager

Pair Plus on the other hand is a wager that allows the player to bet against their own hand. If it contains a pair or better, they win. The same rules regarding minimum and maximum wagers apply here too.

Ante and Pair Plus Wager

When a player combines the Ante and Pair Plus wagers he bets against both the dealer and the payout table. But if he chooses not to follow up the Ante with the Play wager, he forfeits both the Ante and Pair Plus wagers. That’s because the Pair Plus wager is not possible without the Ante.  

The Play Wager

The Play wager is simply put the follow-up bet the player makes if he wants to continue the game after he reviews his 3-card hand.

Three Card Poker Payouts

The payout for Pair Plus

Though it can vary from place to place, and different casinos may have different rules in place the standard payouts for Three Card Poker, at least in America, look something like this:

  • Pair: 1 to 1
  • Flush: 3 to 1 (or 4 to 1)
  • Straight: 6 to 1 (or 5 to 1)
  • Three-of-a-Kind: 30 to 1 (or 25 to 1)
  • Straight Flush: 40 to 1

The payout for Ante Bonus

In addition to the Pair Plus, some casinos will offer Ante Bonus payouts too, if you make one of the strongest of hands. And the strong hand is the one that contains a Straight or higher, regardless of the dealer’s hand. These payouts also usually don’t require additional wager like the Pair Plus bet. And they probably look something like this, although that can depend on different paying structures too:

  • Straight: 1 to 1
  • Three-of-a-Kind: 4 to 1 (or 2 to 1 or 3 to 1)
  • Straight Flush: 5 to 1 (or 3 to 1 or 4 to 1)

Playing Poker at the Online Casino

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the rules, there is no reason not to put that knowledge into practice. Luckily, your favorite online casino Yabby has this version in stock, and it’s a click away from you!

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