Do you want to increase your chances of winning at three-card poker? Your ability to master the hands will greatly affect your opportunities. Every poker player who enjoys three-card poker at the casino needs the relevant skills to come out top.
Knowing the right three-card poker combinations is essential, whether you want to enjoy free or real-money game sessions. We understand this and have prepared this in-depth guide to help you acquire the knowledge you need to succeed.
While the game is simple to learn and wager on, its slow nature ensures you won’t lose much – unlike the fast-paced poker variants. There’s still plenty of fun to be had though, so it’s a great way to get started for beginners who want to enjoy poker.
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3-Card Poker Hands Chart
To help you understand why a strong knowledge of three-card poker hand ranks is essential, we’ll begin with the standard guide on how to wager on this game. So, the question is, how do you play three-card poker?
How to Play Three-card Poker
Whether online or in a physical casino three-card poker table, you will be required to place a wager after taking a seat. This bet, known as the “ante,” goes in a pot to which the additional stakes are also added, all within the allowed betting limits of the table.
Once the ante bet is made, the dealer will issue three cards to everyone, including themselves, in a face-down position. There are no options for swapping or choosing new cards – what you get is what you play with.
To play on, the ante bet must be matched 100%, which means you have a double bet. It is the only way to reach the final showdown (the last round, where everyone must show cards to declare the winner).
At this point, everyone should have doubled the ante or discarded their cards, and the game will proceed into the showdown. The dealer will turn over their cards, as well as those of all players.
The player with the winning hand gets a payout of double their ante, and a further double for extra play bets, depending on whether the dealer has a minimum of a Queen.
3-Card Poker Hands Rankings
Now that you know the gameplay for three-card poker, the rules are relatively simple. In the showdown when comparing hands, only the best hand wins. The best hand is determined by the three-card poker hand ranks.
It is essential to pay close attention since there are differences to the hand rankings of other types of poker. For example, in three-card poker, you won’t find a full house or four of a kind, both of which are found in other popular poker game types.
Here are the available hands in a game of three-card poker.
The straight flush hand is the best hand you can get. You’re assured of a win if you land this poker hand. However, the odds of it occurring are not great, and you could play for hours without seeing one.
Three cards must follow each other in value to get a straight flush, all with the same suit. An ace here can be either high or low. An example of a straight flush would be A, K, Q, or 10, 9, A.
If two players land this hand, the winner is decided by the highest-ranked hand. The next ranking card becomes the decider if the first one does not determine a winner, and so on.
Three of a Kind
The three of a kind ranks second and is formed when the hand combination consists of three cards with the same number. The suits will obviously be different.
In a tie, where two or more players have this hand combination, the ranking of the three cards will become a decider. An example of this hand is 4, 4, 4.
The straight combination comprises three cards of the same suit in sequence. For example, J, Q, K, all of hearts.
A tie is broken by comparing the top card in the hand. An exception will be if 3 is present in the combination. Suppose the hand combination is 3, 2, A. In this case the A becomes the high card.
All three cards that form this hand are of the same suit but with different values. It’s the fourth-highest hand in a game of three-card poker.
In the event of a tie, the high cards are compared. The next senior card will become the kicker if the first does not decide, and so on until the last card.
The pair hand combination follows next. Here, two cards of the three must be of the same value.
In the case of a tie, the ranks of the paired cards will be compared, and the highest wins. If this does not decide, the remaining card (also known as a kicker) will be compared, with the highest winning.
All three cards have different ranks and suits. Any hand combination that does not make one of the above hands is classified as nothing, or a high card hand.
The card with the best value becomes the decider if there is a tie. If the tie is not yet decided, you can use the next most valuable card to become the decider. The chances of this hand occurring is high, so the chances that ties will be decided are high.
The straight flush hand is the best three-card poker hand. A look at the payout values for each hand combination will further explain the relevance of each hand.
Payout for 3-Card Poker Hand Rankings
If the dealer has a hand combination lower than queen high, all players will win, no matter their hand combination. The table below explains the outcome in the case of other scenarios.
|Dealer result||Ante bet||Other play bets|
|Dealer doesn’t qualify, and all players win||1:1||push|
|Dealer qualifies, but your hand combination is better when compared||1:1||1:1|
|Hands are compared, dealer qualifies, and the player loses||Lose bet||Lose bet|
|A tie occurs after the dealer qualifies||push||push|
|Player folds and discards cards||lose||nil|
When it comes to three-card poker hands, the payout seems much more fair than those of other casino table card games like blackjack. It also means the wagers are not too wild, especially with the maximum bet size.
|Three-card poker hand||Odds for ante bets||Odds for pair plus bets||Odds for 6 card bonus|
|Straight flush or better||5:1||40:1||200:1|
|Three of a kind||4:1||30:1|
The six-card bonus side bet allows players to make bets and get a five-card poker hand using three of their cards and the dealer’s.
The percentage winning odds for a typical three-card poker game, irrespective of the hands, are as follows:
- Dealer: 55.03%
- Player: 44.91%
- Tie: 0.06%
These percentages also vary depending on the three-card poker game you play.
3-card Poker Hand Strategy
Now that you understand the relevance of the hand ranking, it’s an excellent idea to learn some working strategies to use for three-card poker combinations. However, there is not much to go on here. There are two primary choices you can make:
- Do you raise or fold?
- Is there a need to make the pair plus bets?
Answering these questions will help you know how to use the hand you’re dealt to the best of your advantage. A peculiar feature about three-card poker hand rankings is that you can easily use these questions to determine your next move.
With the house edge reflecting the high likelihood that the dealer wins, you can use some choices to reduce it significantly and top up your winning potential.
An optimal rule is to raise when you have Q, 6, 4, or even higher. Anything below this combination, please fold.
For example, Q, 5, 4: fold
9, 4, 2: fold
J, T, 3: fold
This strategy will be able to drop the house edge values down to 3.37% from a staggering 7.5-8%. However, depending on the casino you’re playing in, it could be higher.
Live 3-Card Poker Ranking Hands Strategy
If you decide to play in a live casino and one of the dealer’s cards is exposed, here are some expert tips to follow:
- Raise your bet if the dealer has 2-J.
- Raise if the dealer has a queen and your three-card poker combination is Q, 9, 2, or higher.
- Raise if the dealer has a king and you have K, 9, 2, or higher.
- Raise if the dealer has an ace and you have A, 9, 2, or higher.
If this is your situation, you could be lucky enough to reduce the house edge values to 3.48%.
However, there are no current optimal strategies for the pair plus bets. Most players consider it a gamble because of the high house edge value. Here, you will require a good amount of logic. Don’t make it if you feel it is not good enough. Instead, focus on the ante bets to get double your stake. For a side bet, the house edge value is relatively low. Compare it to the regular game’s worth, and a three-card poker game has a small risk attached.