Online 3 Card Poker

Poker with three cards is a wildly different variant that is quickly gaining popularity in casinos across the globe.
3-card-poker.png Although the game is available in a flash format where computer deals the cards, we prefer the live dealer version by the Evolution Gaming or other providers. While it adheres to many of the same basic rules of poker, the hand changes may sometimes apply in dramatically different ways so make sure to check a rules part of this guide.
It traces its origins to a British game called Brag which underwent many changes before coming to America as Casino Brag. Unlike its predecessor which is known for its elements of bluffing, this one is not played against players but against the dealer, making bluffing unnecessary if not wholly ineffective.
If you don't want to be bored with additional information about the game, you can play a no download version in the following section. Or you can visit a link above that will lead you to the directory with casinos offering to play 3 Card Poker in live.

Play

Here are few flash versions of popular 3-card game from next gaming providers:

play-three-card-poker-fullscreen.jpg

Rules

Like all other poker games, Three Card Poker is also based around the traditional 52 card deck. As it is actually two games in one, player can opt to play either game or both. The first one is the normal play and ante (or Play/Ante) game and the second part is the Pair Plus (or Ante Bonus) game.
In the Play/Ante portion, the player antes before the three face down cards are dealt to him and the dealer. After player views his cards, it's time to either raise or fold. Folding results in a forfeit of the ante bet, while a raise must be made in the exact same amount as the original ante bet. After the players fold or raise, the dealer reveals his three cards. For a player to win the Play/Ante game, the dealer must first qualify. A qualifying hand for a dealer need to include only a Queen high. In case he does not qualify, then the ante bet returns even money and the raise is just returned, but if he does and the player hand wins, the both ante and raise bets return even money. If the dealer wins after successful qualification the player loses both bets. In the event of a tie, the rules vary from one casino to the next with some returning the player's bets and others paying even money on bets.

The only change made in poker combinations used for the game is that they are now limited to three cards. It means that a straight flush is the highest combination with three consecutive suited cards, followed by three of a kind, straight, regular flush, a pair, and finally the high card. Obviously, the lowest playable hand in light of the dealer's qualification is a King high (unless the casino pays out on ties, in which case it would be a Queen high).

To play the Pair Plus game, you place a separate bet in the bonus or pair plus betting circle. Where players may choose to raise or fold in the Play/Ante portion of the game, Pair Plus only players will just wait it out and either win or lose depending on the strength of their hand. They do not compete with the dealer but rather with the odds, with anything above a pair paying out based on a betting schedule.
In this way, it is possible for players to get paid out twice on good combinations. Once for the regular Play/Ante bet and again for the Pair Plus bet, which also helps to reduce the house edge.

Anatomy of a table

For beginners, an excellent way to learn the game is to start with the layout of the table.

3-card-poker-table.png The picture here comes in handy as well to consult when learning the rules.
The actual table is very similar to the standard blackjack table, which many players often confuse since the two games are generally located in the same area when you play in the land-based casino. Tables have six or seven seating positions around a half circle table. At each sitting position there are three marked betting spaces – a circle, diamond, and diamond in a rectangle.
The circle betting space is nearest the dealer and is labelled as a Pair Plus. It is where the bonus side bet is placed.
The diamond shaped betting space is labelled Ante, and is where all initial bets and chips are set.
The space closest to the player is marked as a Play. This is where the bet is set if after reviewing your dealt hand you decide not to fold, but rather, stay in the game for its completion.

Tips and strategy

Incorporating a mathematically sound playing strategy into this poker game is not a difficult task. There are only a few simple tips to remember, but you will still need to be put to a little training before playing with real stakes.
In a nutshell, the strategy says to fold your hand if holding lower than a Queen/6/4 and to make the additional play bet if you are holding anything higher. Unfortunately, the Pair Plus bet cannot be played with any strategy or skill. It is a blind luck bet. Therefore, make it at your own risk.

In terms of odds, you will be dealt a pair about 25% of the time. When fifty percent of your bets go on the Ante and the same percentage on Pair Plus, statistically you will win 32% of the bets, pushing 13%, and lose about 55%. If you want to play it with better chances, place Ante and Play bets. What must be clarified at this point is how to determine if your hand is indeed higher than Queen/6/4. Many beginning players incorrectly think that all three cards need to be higher than Queen/6/4 for the hand to qualify. In other words, in their minds, the minimum hand to play would be King/7/5. However, this is not the case. In order for a hand to rank better than a Queen/6/4, holding only one card greater than a Queen (for example a King or Ace), despite the value of the other two cards, is good enough to play. If you are holding a Queen, the second card will need to be greater than a 6, regardless of the value of the 3rd card. A 2nd card less than 6 is not good enough for the hand to play, even if the 3rd card beats a 4. For instance, a Queen/5/5 does not beat out a Queen/6/4. However, a Queen/7/2 does beat it.

If casino awards ties to the player, it is advised that you still play your hand that is Queen/6/4 or greater, as well as a Queen/6/3 if every card has a different suit, thus minimising the chances of the dealer holding a Flush. It should also be noted that mimicking the dealer (playing a hand with a Queen or higher) is not as good as the optimised strategy mentioned above. Players should also search for online casinos offering an ante bonus payout of 5-4-1, as opposed to 4-3-1. The 5-4-1 payout brings the edge down to 3.4%.