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Online 3-Card Poker

Similar to the classic English card game of Brag, 3-Card Poker is a popular casino game where players take on the dealer.

Where Caribbean Stud is played like poker, with the best 5-card poker hand winning, 3-card Poker is played with just three cards. The aim is to beat the dealer's hand. Even better, if you beat the dealer when he holds a "qualifying hand" of queen-high or better.

There's little strategy but players simply have to beat the dealer's 3-card poker hand. With online versions of the game there are added bonuses which can pay extra winnings. Even better, you can try the game for free to test out a few plays and strategies.

Find top free 3-Card Poker games in 2016:

  • Enjoy classic 3-card games for free without risking your bankroll
  • Test out online casino software
  • Gamble on 3-card poker and work off a casino bonus

History of Online 3-Card Poker

If you grew up gambling on cards in the UK, you've probably come across 3-card Brag. A simple game, players are dealt three cards and have to bet against other players. The showdown takes place when all betting has finished.

Casino 3-card Poker just takes things up a notch and pits the player against the House. There's not too much strategy involved: you get dealt your hand and must make a decision to bet or fold. The rest is down to luck.

3-Card Poker first appeared in the mid 1990s as an online extension of Brag. It's sometimes played in the US under the name, 'Tri Poker'.

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Three Card Poker

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How to Play 3-Card Poker Online

3-Card Poker is a fast game played against the House.

There are three areas to drag chips onto: ANTE, PLAY, and PAIR PLUS. Games are typically played with just one deck which is shuffled after every hand.

Placing Bets: Players place an initial bet, called an ante, plus an optional side bet wager. The Dealer and Player are dealt three cards. You then make a decision to equal the ante or fold your hand. If you want to play on, you match your ante in the PLAY area of the table.

After making a decision, the Dealer reveals his hand. If your hand beats his, you win. The Dealer's hand must be queen-high or higher to qualify.

Ranking of hands follows poker rankings, altered slightly due to the three cards. Unlike 3-card Brag, three-of-a-kind (prial) isn't the best hand, but a Straight does beat a Flush:

  • Straight Flush
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • One Pair
  • High Card

3-Card Poker Payouts: To win, you must beat the Dealer's hand. But your payout also depends on whether the Dealer qualifies with a queen-high:

Player's Winning Hand (if Dealer qualifies):

  • Ante: 1/1
  • Play: 1/1

Player's Winning Hand (if Dealer doesn't qualify):

  • Ante: 1/1
  • Play: Push (a draw)

Tied Hand (if Dealer qualifies):

Ante and Play bet returned

In the event of a Push, your bet carries forward to the next game.

Ante Bonus: You will secure certain bonus payouts on top of your ante bet if your hand wins:

  • Pair: No bonus
  • Flush: No bonus
  • Straight: 1/1
  • Three of a kind: 4/1
  • Straight Flush: 5/1

Pair Plus Bonus: The side bet is called the 'Pair Plus Bonus'. You'll see the bet area clearly displayed on the table. A Pair Plus pays out even-money (1/1) if you win with a Pair. You'll also win bigger bonuses if you hit certain hands:

  • Pair: 1/1
  • Flush: 4/1
  • Straight: 6/1
  • Three of a Kind: 30/1
  • Straight Flush: 40/1

These bets pay out based on the value of your hand, regardless of what the dealer is holding.

The 'Mini Royal'

Although not too common online, some casinos add an extra bonus called the "Mini Royal". With this, if you hit a hand holding a suited A-K-Q you'll bag 80/1 your money.

Live 3-Card Poker

Like many casino games in the last few years, 3-Card Poker can now be played at online casinos against a human croupier.

Live 3-card Poker pits you against a human dealer streamed in from a TV studio or land-based casino. The cards are fitted with special chips which are picked up by sensors in the table. The cards are then transmitted to the player's casino page. Bets continue as normal, with winnings paid out at the end of the hand.

3-Card Poker Progressive

Some casinos run a variant of 3-Card Poker which award special payouts if you hit a certain hand. Usually, an extra bet is made at the start of the hand, and progressive games are linked across multiple casinos. If you hit a Mini Royal in spades, you'll bag the special progressive jackpot.

'Prime' 3-Card Poker

Usually found in UK land-based casinos, Prime 3-Card Poker requires players to make an option bet before the cards are dealt out. Payouts are made depending on the colour of the player's cards. You'll win 3/1 your bet if the cards are the same colour. If both your AND the dealer's cards are all the same colour you get paid 4/1. The house edge is a rather mean 3.62 percent.

Online 3-Card Poker Top Tips

1 - Know Your House Edge

There's not too much skill involved in 3-card Poker. However, you should be aware of the house edges when placing bets. An online cheat sheet can help you know the probabilities of hitting certain hands. A high card is hit just over 74 percent of the time, while a pair hits around 16-17 percent of the time. A flush comes around 4.96 percent, and a straight 3.26 percent. A straight flush hits 0.22 percent of the time.

The house edge of 3-card Poker online runs around 2.32-2.7 percent.

2 - Making Optimum 'Play' Wagers

Smart 3-card Poker betting come in making the right move against the dealer. If you have Q-6-4 or better that's the time to bet the 'Play' against the dealer. Generally, however, there is no real proper strategy that can help you beat the house edge. The 'Pair Plus' bets, while attractive, are generally seen as for fools only.

3 - Print Out a Cheat Sheet

There are many 'cheat sheets' available online. These show the optimum play depending upon your cards and are good to print out and have by your keyboard while you play.

3-Card Poker Glossary

Ante - Enforced bet by the player
Ante Bonus - Special payouts for players betting the ante
Bet - Wager
Bonus Hands - Special 3-card hands that are awarded extra payouts
Croupier - Dealer who handles the action
Deal - Player's and dealer's cards distributed
Even-Money Bet - Bet that is paid 1/1
Fold - Discard your hand
Hand - Three cards dealt to the player at the start of the game
Live 3-card Poker / Live Dealer 3-card Poker - Online 3-card Poker game featuring a human croupier and real cards
Pair Plus Bonus - Extra payouts based on hitting special hands
Play - Make a further bet by matching your ante
Prime - Version of 3-card poker with a special payout for getting matching colours
Qualifying Hand - A dealer has a hand of queen-high or better
Tied Hand - Player and dealer get dealt same value hand
Wager - Bet placed on a hand

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