How to play 3-card poker: a step-by-step guide to a casino classic
Learn how to play 3-card poker with our step-by-step guide to this entertaining fixed-odds casino table game and its most commonly found side bets.
Created by Derek Webb in 1994 and patented three years later, 3-card poker is a card game based on poker hand rankings, with associated side bets. The game of 3-card poker is played as a heads-up poker game between the player and the dealer using a 52-card deck.
How to play 3-card poker: the aim of the game
The objective is to have a better 3-card poker hand than the dealer.
How to play 3-card poker: hand rankings
In 3 card poker the hand rankings are essentially the same as five-card poker hand rankings. The sole difference is that all hands consist of a maximum of three cards.
For example, a royal flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 in five-card poker), becomes Ace, King, Queen), while straight flushes, flushes and straights need only comprise three cards.
How to play 3-card poker: a step-by-step guide
A game of 3-card poker begins with the ante. This is the player’s opening bet and is placed before the cards are dealt.
Pair plus and 6-card bonus are optional 3-card poker side bets that must be made at the same time as the ante. Scroll down to find out how they work and the win odds they offer.
Next the dealer deals three cards face up to the player and three cards face down to themselves.
Fold or play?
At this point the player checks their cards and makes the decision whether to fold or play based on the strength of their hand. Folding means that the ante bet has been lost.
If the player decides to play then they make a second bet on the outcome of the hand of equal value to the ante.
Finally the dealer reveals their 3-card poker hand. At this point the dealer’s hand is only compared with the player’s to decide a winner if the dealer’s hand is queen-high (a hand with no pairs, flushes, straights, three of a kind or straight flushes, but a queen as highest ranking card) or better.
If the dealer’s hand is worse than queen-high then the player’s ante bet is paid out at evens.
In 3-card poker, the reveal has the following potential outcomes:
How to play 3-card poker: Ante Bonus.
Many online casinos offer an ante bonus that can be won without the need for any additional bet. A bonus is paid if the player makes the play bet and gets a straight flush, three of a kind or straight from the three cards they are dealt.
Ante bonus win odds may vary from one casino to another but are typically the following:
How to play 3-card poker: the pair plus side bet
This is an optional side bet on the player’s 3-card poker hand, placed at the same time as the ante. It pays out even if the player folds their hand before placing the play bet.
Fixed odds are paid if the player is dealt hands of a pair or better in the poker hand ranking or better.
Odds may differ depending on where you play, but are likely to be similar to the table below.
3-card poker side bets: the 6-card bonus side bet
Also optional and placed at the same time as the ante, the 6-card bonus side bet relates to the best five-card poker hand that can be made from the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand combined. Again it pays out even if the player folds their hand before placing the play bet.
Fixed odds are paid for the following hands made up from the six cards dealt as follows:
Learn how to play popular types of poker and the rules specific to each game
Want to know the rules specific to popular types of poker? Check out the links below.