Three Card Poker is a simple game. It is considered to be a game of skill, however, there is not much to learn and there is only one decision per game to be made. That is whether to raise or fold. Players can also simply choose to place a wager on the side bet. In that case, there is no action to be made at all.
The game starts with the player placing a wager. There is an ante and a pair plus bet on the table. Players may bet one or both. Each player and the dealer are then dealt three cards face down. If the player bet on the ante, he must then decide whether to raise or fold after looking at his hand. If he folds, his cards go to the dealer and his bets lose. If he decides to raise his bet, an amount equal to the ante must be placed.
The strategy on when to raise is simple. If the player’s hand is queen, six, four or higher, the hand should be raised. Otherwise, it should be folded.
A player that chose to only bet on the Pair Plus side bet does nothing. The return on the hand is determined by its strength.
The dealer shows his hand after all players have acted. He must have a queen high to qualify. If the dealer does not have a queen high, the ante bet is paid and the raise pushes. If the dealer does have a queen high, then the hands are compared. If the dealer’s hand beats the player’s hand, the house takes the ante and raise bet. If the player beats the dealer, the ante and raise bets are paid.
There is one difference between Three Card Poker and standard poker. In Three Card Poker, a straight beats a flush.
There is an ante bonus for big player hands. A straight pays 1-1, three of a kind pays 4-1, while a straight flush pays 5-1. There is one interesting rule in Three Card Poker that is not found in most games. The ante bonus wins, even if the player loses the hand. The ante bonus is also paid if the dealer does not qualify. Think of this as a bad beat bonus.
The Pair Plus is a side bet that plays regardless of whether the dealer qualifies or wins the hand. Like the name implies, a player wins on a hand of a pair or higher. The pay table is as follows:
- Straight Flush: 40-1
- Three of a Kind: 30-1
- Straight: 6-1
- Flush: 3-1
- Any Pair: Even Money
Some Pair Plus pay tables have a separate hand for a mini royal flush. This is a suited ace, king and queen. Tables that offer this pay 50-1 for it as opposed to the 40-1 straight flushes typically pay.