Three Card Poker Guide | LeoVegas

How to play Three Card Poker

Is there a better-known card game out there than poker? Many people would argue it is the most widely known game, but what we can all agree on is that it can take years to become a true master at poker, and even then, there’s never a guarantee of winning – as with all card and casino games.

Three card poker is an interesting variant that helps make the game faster and more efficient for players who might be new to the different hands, plays, and terminology used in the full game.

There are also plenty of chances to play three card poker in our live casino, so before you explore this poker variation for yourself, read through the history and rules of the game below so you’re more better with its mechanics.

A brief history of Three Card Poker

Three card poker is probably much newer than you think; it has only been around since 1994. Poker itself, of course, dates all the way back to ancient times, having passed through China via Persia, France, and then the US.

The three card version of the game, however, was invented by Derek Webb. It has become popular mostly thanks to its simplicity compared to the full game, developed as something of a “speed” version that people can pull up to a table and start playing without committing to intensive gameplay.

“Speed poker” exists mainly to introduce people to poker who don’t have hours and hours spare to play at a full table and brush up on the rules. As you might expect, the simpler standards of this game have helped it become quite popular at online casinos, too.

But don't let the game's simplicity fool you; it is still very much a poker game with real stakes and money, so it is best not to go into it blindly. Before learning the rules, always establish clear limits and boundaries for your bankroll so you know when to step away.

How to play Three Card Poker online

Like the full game, three card poker is played with a standard, 52-card deck. However, in three card poker, you play against the dealer directly rather than against other players, as you normally would with traditional poker.

This means you need your three card hand to have a better value than the dealer’s. Therefore, you need to understand the values of the best hands in the game. Don’t worry; we will cover those in more detail shortly!

To kick off the game, the player places their first bet before the cards are dealt. This is what is known in the game as the ante wager, or in some cases, the pair plus wager. The pair plus wager applies if the player wishes to bet that their hand contains a pair or better; this is not a recommended move for beginners.

Then, three cards are dealt out face down to the player, with another set going to the dealer. Once you look at your hand, you need to decide whether to place a play wager, otherwise known as a play bet, to match your ante.

If you fold and choose not to play on, the dealer collects any ante and plus pair bets, and the round ends.

However, if you play on, both you and the dealer reveal your hands. If the dealer’s hand is ranked better than yours (e.g., it’s a straight flush rather than a pair), they win the bet. If the reverse is true, you claim the bet.

There are a couple of additional rules to keep in mind. For example, if both hands are of the same value, you get your wager back.

Keep in mind that certain casinos and games require you to place ante and pair plus bets to get started. Always check which bets are optional before diving into the game for real.

Important terms used in Three Card Poker

To really make the most of three card poker, it pays to understand the terms used and the hands you’re likely to play with. We’ve covered ante and pair plus, but here are some other terms you’ll need to know about.

  • Fold: Folding works the same here as it does in traditional poker. To fold is to surrender your ante bet and bow out of that round.
  • Raise: When you raise in poker, you place an additional bet that is either the same as or higher than your ante once you have seen your hand.
  • High card: The high card is the highest single-ranked card in your hand, so a King would rank higher than Queens, Jacks, and numbered cards.

Here are the hands to look for in three card poker and how they rank, from lowest to highest value:

  • High card: You play the hand based on whether your highest card ranks higher than the dealer’s.
  • Pair: A pair is two cards in your hand of equal rank, such as a 2 of hearts and a 2 of spades.
  • Flush: A flush is where you hold three cards of the same suit, such as a 2, 6, and 7 of clubs.
  • Straight: A straight is where you have three cards ranked in order but not the same suit, such as a 3 of diamonds, 4 of clubs, and 5 of spades.
  • Three of a kind: This hand contains three equal cards, such as a 4 of spades, a 4 of clubs, and a 4 of diamonds.
  • Straight flush: A straight flush is three consecutive cards running in the same suit, such as a 4, 5, and 6 of clubs.

How is Three Card Poker different from other variations of the game?

To start, the game only uses three cards, and you’re only playing against one other person – the dealer. This helps to streamline the game to make it faster, easier to understand, and quicker to get into some of the more complex rules of the full game.

Of course, there are still risks involved, so, as always, be sure to bet wisely!

You’ll find a range of different popular twists on three card poker across in-person casinos and tables, but one of the best places to start is by checking out live tables here at LeoVegas. For example, Evolution’s Live Three Card Poker places you in front of the dealer from the comfort of your home or mobile device and lets you dive into the different hands and bets available.


What is the best hand in Three Card Poker ?

The best technical hand in three card poker is the straight flush, which is three consecutive cards in a row in the same suit.

When should you fold in Three Card Poker?

Different players recommend various strategies for three card poker. However, many suggest playing on with any hands that have a value of more than a Queen, a four, and a six. Keep in mind, however, that there are never any guarantees for what the dealer might hold.

Should you always bet pair plus in Three Card Poker?

Some players recommend betting pair plus wherever possible, but it’s an additional cost that adds to the financial risk. Consider the bets you make in this game carefully, regardless of the odds.