Three Card Poker (Tri Card Poker) is a fast and fun poker-style game that requires little strategy for a player to win big. The low house edge of up to 1.5% makes 3 Card Poker a good choice for casino poker players. The goal of the game is to beat the dealer by making the best poker hand with one draw of three cards.

3 Card Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards that is shuffled after each hand. Card Poker is two games in one, the Pair Plus game and the Ante game. These can be played together, or as individual games, so that a player must make at least one bet.

The Ante works as it does in conventional poker game. This is the "cost" of playing the hand. The Ante game has normal and bonus payouts. Normal payouts depend on the Dealer's hand qualifying with a Queen High (Queen or Better) combination or higher and the value of your hand. Ante bonus payouts are paid if you have a bonus hand combination and do not depend on the value of the Dealer's cards.

The Pair Plus is a wager that the player will get at least a Pair or higher. The Pair Plus game has payouts for specific hand combinations that are not dependant on the Dealer’s hand.

The player place a bet in the "Ante" spot on the table within acceptable table limits. Both dealer and player are dealt 3 cards face down. The player will decide whether their cards are good enough to bet against the dealer or fold. If the player folds at this stage, he/she loses the ante. If the player trys to test his/her cards against the dealer, he/she must place a wager equal to the ante in the "Play" spot on the table and play further. If the player has a winning hand, the hand pays both the Ante and the Pair Plus bets (if he/she made those bets). The dealer must have at least Queen High to qualify. Anything lower is an automatic win for the player providing the player has not folded earlier.

Payoffs depend on Pair Plus result, Ante result, and the Play result (whether the dealer qualify):

Pair Plus
Straight Flush 40 to 1
Three of a Kind 30 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1 (3 to 1)*
Pair 1 to 1
Ante Game
Straight Flush 5 to 1
Three of a Kind 4 to 1
Straight 1 to 1
Play Result
Dealer qualifies and player beats dealer:
Both Play and ante win 1 to 1
4 to 1
Dealer does not qualify:
Ante wins, Play bet is returned
1 to 1

* - some casinos offer 3:1 payoff for Flushes in Pair Pus, thus significantly increasing house edge. Always play the games with 4:1 payoff.

3 Card Poker is a relatively new game, invented in 1994 by Derek Webb, the owner of Prime Table Games, and a successful poker player from Great Britain. Today you can find the game in most online casinos (Microgaming, CryptoLogic, Playtech and more). The bets are tipically ranged from $5 to $300 or more.


The overall optimal strategy is pretty simple: Always Play Q-6-4 or Higher and Never Play Anything Lower.


You can play 3 card poker games with the best odds for players at the following trusted casinos:
  • Europa Casino online casino (Playtech software, $1 - $500 wagers),
  • InterCasino (Cryptologic software, $5 min Ante & $300 max bet) or
  • Crazy Vegas casino (Microgaming software, 3 game versions including Multihand and Gold Series 3 Card Poker).

See also 7 Card Stud Strategy

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