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Rules & Strategy – Three-Card Poker

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Rules & Strategy


THREE CARD POKERSM is unlike most poker variants in that it is basically two distinct games in one, “PAIR PLUS®” and “Ante & Play.” Players may bet one or both, and may vary the size of each wager independent of the other.

Rules for PAIR PLUS®
The simpler of the two game, PAIR PLUS® involves no real skill and you don’t even have to beat the dealer’s hand—it’s simply a question of whether or not you get dealt winning cards. To play, simply make a wager in the PAIR PLUS® field and examine your three cards. Winning hands and their payouts include:

Basic PAIR PLUS® Payout Schedule
Hand Payout
Straight Flush 40-1
Three of a Kind 30-1
Straight 6-1
Flush 4-1
Pair 1-1

Notice how the value of certain hands differs from that of traditional poker. Most notably is that a straight is superior to a flush. This is because a flush, with a probability of appearing 4.95% of the time is greater than a straight (and hence easier to get) which only appears in 3.25% of all hands dealt. If you want, you could also visit the page, the best one if you need 3 card poker strategy, in order to complete your training.

Rules for Ante & Play
The second game in THREE CARD POKERSM is only slightly more challenging than the PAIR PLUS® game. The game begins when a player places an ante wager and, like the dealer, is dealt three cards. The player next looks at those cards and decides whether to fold or raise by putting a second bet in designated the “Play” area. If the player folds, he/she loses all bets made, including any “PAIR PLUS®” wager. If the player raised, action then goes to the dealer who must now expose his cards. The two hands are then compared. The rules involved in deciding the winner are as follows:

• The dealer must have a minimum hand of Q-X-X in order to qualify.
• If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the ante bet is paid off at 1-1. The Play bet is then returned to the player.
• If the dealer’s hand qualifies, but player wins, both Ante bet and Play bet are paid off at 1-1.
• If the dealer’s hand qualifies and wins, the player loses both Play and Ante wagers.
• If the dealer’s hand qualifies but the player and dealer tie, both Ante and Play wagers remain unaffected (push).

In addition to the above results, the Ante bet has a special bonus that is independent of the dealer’s hand. An example of a typical payout schedule for the ante bonus is:

THREE CARD POKERSM Basic Poker Ante Bonus
Hand Payout
Straight Flush 5-1
Three of a Kind 4-1
Straight 1-1

Variations on a Theme
THREE CARD POKERSM, (aka Poker Three and Tri-Card Poker in online venues) has suffered the same fate as so many other games before it: tougher payout schedules being developed by both land-based and online casinos.

THREE CARD POKERSM Alternative PAIR PLUS® Payout Schedules
Hand Payout
Table 1 – Table 2 – Table 3 – Table 4
Straight Flush 40-1 40-1 35-1 35-1
Three of a Kind 25-1 30-1 25-1 25-1
Straight 6-1 5-1 6-1 5-1
Flush 4-1 4-1 4-1 4-1
Pair 1-1 1-1 1-1 1-1

And for the Ante Bonus:

THREE CARD POKERSM Alternative Ante Bonus Payout Schedules
Hand Payout
Table 1- Table 2 -Table 3
Straight Flush 5-1 4-1 3-1
Three of a Kind 3-1 3-1 2-
Straight 1-1 1-1 1-1

While it’s unfortunate that practicality dictates that I can’t list every single table game and every minute deviation, the ones that I’ve included here represent those that currently show the most variation in the online gambling arena.


THREE CARD POKERSM and PAIR PLUS® are service marks owned by SHFL entertainment, Inc.

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