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3 Card Poker Strategy - How To Win

It's no fun playing casino games if you don't ever win, right? And if you do want to win playing 3 card poker you're going to need to know how to play using the the optimal strategies. Knowing what to do (and when) might keep you winning small amounts, and increasing your chances to ultimately hit a big winning hand.

These strategies are fairly straightforward, so let's take a look at what you can do to maximize your chances.

Strategy For The Main Game - Against The Dealer 3 Card Poker Strategy

The basic strategy here pretty much makes the basis of a 3 Card betting system. Optimum player strategy against the dealer is to make the play or raise wager with Queen-6-4 or better and fold with anything lower, though the simpler strategy of playing queens or higher will give similar results. In fact, the dealer himself plays with the latter strategy of those two. This has been proven by a computer program which analysed all potential combinations of a players hand (22,100) against all combinations of the dealers cards (18,424).

Basically this means playing:

    • Any pair or higher
    • King or Ace high
    • Queen high, when your second highest card is a 7 or higher
    • Queen high, when your second card is a 6 and your third card is a 4 or higher

Of course, only playing bets made with those higher hands means folding all others, so you need to be patient and prepared to let a number of hands pass by without playing. If you don't do this, the casino edge rises to around 7.65% from about 3.37 % with the optimal strategy.

You can see that as with all negative expectation gambling games there is no definite strategy that can overcome the built in house advantage which exists in all casino games. For this reason it's very difficult, unless you're extremely lucky, to come out ahead over a period of time. This leads to many players treating 3 card poker as a form of entertainment, rather than a money making enterprise. Exactly the way you should treat all casino games in fact.

Pair Plus Strategy

If you’re looking to get the occasional big win at 3 card poker, you'll want to be making regular use of the pairs plus bet. The ante bonus on the regular play does offer the chance of reasonable wins too - though you won't walk away a millionaire. And it's worth noting the house advantage of 2.32% when you only play pair plus means you'll struggle to find other casino card games giving you potentially as much value for money.

One thing to bear in mind about pair plus is that your wins and losses can be more volatile than in ante play. That does of course make it the riskier way to play meaning your expected losses over time will be higher than in ante play.

As far as strategy for pair plus goes, there's not a great deal to think about. The odds are against you, but you're going for the bigger wins. It's going to be down to pure luck on whether you'll get dealt a winning hand, so the only real strategy you can follow is one around staking or betting.

Basic Betting Strategy

The most common wager strategies are to play Ante and Pair Plus wagers for equal amounts, or for one of the Ante and Pair Plus wagers to be double the amount of the other one of the Ante and Pair Plus wagers.

The best way to bet in 3 card poker is to place 100% of your total bet on the Ante, because that's where the lowest house edge is. But we've seen that Pair plus gives the higher odds - and in the rare circumstances where you get paid on the ante game but with a three of a kind hand you're going to feel a little put out if you didn't collect on it with a pair plus bet. Even so, if you can avoid the temptation then the best strategy is to do so. In the long run you'll have more chance of coming out ahead.

Bankroll Strategy

The only real decision you'll need to make in pair plus play is on how much to bet, so other useful strategies to employ revolve around money and bankroll management. You want to preserve your betting bank for as long as possible. More money means more games, and more chances to hit those 3 cards that will give you a big win.

One good way to preserve your bank is to be fully aware of how much you have won, or lost, in your current sitting. Putting aside small amounts if you're on a winning streak is a good idea.

Clearly it's worth shopping around and making use of any valuable betting bonuses you can find too.

What Else Can Help?

If you get involved in any game where the dealer shows one of his cards, there's a chance to gain a 3.5% advantage. Of course you'll need to be able to work out the best way of using that information.

Probability In 3 Card Poker

This section covers how to calculate the probabilities in 3 Card Poker - the likelihood of you receiving any particular winning or losing hand. Probabilities are not so important to understand here as they are when playing optimal poker strategy in other poker games.

There are 22100 ways to draw 3 cards out of a 52 card pack, so to find out the mathematical probability of getting any hand you can just divide any of the numbers denoting how many ways to get dealt that hand (below) by 22100.

Straight Flush

With 4 possible suits for a straight flush, you can get any combination from A23 to QKA, or 12 different straight flush hands. So the total number of straight flushes is 4*12=48.

Three Of A Kind

There are 13 options for getting a three of a kind hand. There are 4 ways to get 3 suits out of 4. So there are 52 potential three of a kinds.


There are 12 possible hands for a straight flush, but a straight in 3 card poker can be a hand with any suit. A straight has 3 cards, each may be one of any of the four suits. However if all three cards are of the same suit then you'll have a straight flush. 720 possible straights.


There are 4 possible suits for a flush hand. For each of the suits there are 286 ways to get 3 out of 13. But we know from the straight flush section above that there are 12 combinations which give us three connected cards, giving you a straight flush. So the hand combinations that land you a straight which isn't a straight flush is 274. So the number of flush combinations is 4 x 274, or 1096.


There are 13 possible pairs, which gives you 156 ways to land one. Within the pair there are 6 ways to get 2 suits out of the possible 4. So the total number of different pair combinations is 3744.

Nothing in 3 Card Poker Hands

The number of ways to get a nothing hand (ie less than a pair) is 16440.

Where To Play

You can play 3 card poker for free online or with the risk of winning or losing cash at the popular Bovada online casino, which accepts players from all over the world including the US. There are download and no download versions to play. If you're a first time visitor to Bovada you can also pick up a welcome bonus which will give you extra playing time.

Alternatively Bet365 also offers the game in their online casino. US players not accepted.

And let's not forget the ever popular 888 casino. You can read all about how 888 3 card poker works here.

Aside from these there are plenty of others. If you have any difficulty finding the game listed at any online casino you're visiting, it's worth remembering it may be known under different names. Different casinos operate on different platforms, the casino software that runs the games. 3 card poker may also be known as Tri Card Poker or Trey Card Poker on different software platforms.


You'll find a wide range of tournaments available online covering most types of casino games. You're probably already aware of the dozens of different types of poker tournaments you can play in. Unfortunately 3 card poker tournaments are not so easy to find online, though you will find them in some land based casinos.

Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpots in 3 card poker can take different forms, depending on where you're playing.

Some casinos offer a mini bonus on the Pair Plus bet with a payout which can be as high as 50-1 on a suited QKA.

Others make good use of a progressive pot to add extra spice for players. This progressive tends to be a $1 a go optional bet that you make by selecting a button before each hand is dealt. You get the chance to win a progressive bonus if your hand comes up 3 of a kind or a straight flush. The progressive jackpot gets won if your hand turns up as a mini royal flush in spades.

Hands & Payouts

• Royal Flush in Spades  - Gets the progressive Jackpot
• Royal Flush in hearts, diamonds, or clubs  - normally $500
• Straight Flush  - normally $100
• 3 of a Kind - normally $50

The great thing about when a progressive is won is that all other players at the table get a share too. Known as an Envy Bonus payoff, this can be around $25 for any Royal Flush and $100 for one landed in Spades.

Clearly it's not easy to land this bet, with the percentages well against you. Not one to play regularly, but can offer a little extra excitement if you're well up on a session. With 22100 different hands possible on any draw, only 100 of these would net you the progressive payout.

If you do want to play in a progressive, the best strategy is to keep an eye on the amount in the pot, and the number of players.

With a jackpot starting at $5000 the house has an edge of 70%. As the pot increases, each additional $1000 adds an extra 4.5% advantage to you, the player. At a pot of $10,000 the odds are pretty much even, at over $11500 they start to load in your favour. If you take into account other players and the way the Envy bonus works, each other table player adds another 0.79% to your chances.

Live Dealer 3 Card Poker Games

Interest in live dealer casinos has been growing. After many years of online casinos offering their games in the standard format, the industry needed to start looking at ways to present games in new and innovative formats. Live dealer games were born in an attempt to replicate the excitement of a live casino and many of the big operators now offer them.

So where to play live dealer 3 card poker?

Try these well known casinos for starters:

•  William Hill
•  Unibet
•  Betvictor
•  Mr Green

Free Games & Practice

Both the casinos listed in 'where to play 3 card poker' section above have free play sections where you can practice - but the dedicated area at Games.com has the best free games selection I could find. There is of course a free practice game right here on this page.


Playing any game using an app is a perfect way to enjoy your gaming on the move - anywhere or any time. Apps of all kinds are hugely popular, so it'll be no surprise to learn that there are apps for playing 3 card poker too. Using one to learn and practice is a great way to use up a spare few minutes while you're on the move.

Some that are worth looking at include:

•  3 Card Poker Shark - which you'll find on iTunes
•  Ace 3-Card Poker - for Android and found at the Google store

For a whole bunch of different variants the website at Appcrawler is a great resource, and you'll find apps designed for Android or iOS devices.

More Info & Valuable Resources

The Wikipedia page on 3 card poker presents the history, playing rules, and some simple strategies in an easy to read format. It also contains a useful table showing the probabilities of achieving specific winning hands.

If you want to practice before stepping up to real money games at an online casino, there are free practice games on the WizardOfOdds website while the dedicated 3 card page at the long running Pagat.com website also carries some easy to follow info.

The useful site at 3CardPoker.com covers the game in depth, and also mentions the subject of tournaments - which can add a little extra spice to playing the game.

Forums are always a great place to get some real player viewpoints, and this Casinomeister thread has some useful info.

Reading through a list of Frequently Asked Questions is always a good way to learn about the intricacies of any subject. Check out this link for the best list of 3 card poker FAQ.

And don't forget 3 card poker videos at Youtube, or social comments via Twitter or on Facebook.

3 Card Poker Variations

Teen Patti

An interesting variation to be aware of is the Indian version of 3 card known as Teen Patti (also known as Teen Pathi or Flash). The main difference between this version and casino 3 card poker is that Teen Patti is played against other players rather than a dealer.  It's been a highly popular form of the game in India for many years.

This variant works best (for gambling purposes) when played with between four and seven players, with an objective of either betting in a way that makes your opponents fold (ie bluffing), or betting because you have a great winning hand.

Hand rankings and the betting process are explained on the Wikipedia Teen Patti page, while the strategies and winning techniques of Flash are similar to those shown above in the best playing strategies section.

Online Teen Patti

It's clear that Teen Patti has been played for hundreds of years on the streets of India, so it won't be a surprise to know that online versions are available. They're becoming highly popular with Indian and other Asian region families, who are increasingly being drawn to the ease of playing online games.

For Indian players who want to play online one of the best options will be the fast growing Junglee TennPatti, however there are plenty of 3 card poker casinos that cater more for western players but which also accept Indian registrations.

Mini Flush

Also popular across the Indian subcontinent is another version of 3 Card Poker known as Mini Flush. They're essentially highly similar, and the main difference between Mini Flush and its better known counterpart is in the betting.

Mini Flush Bonus Bets

In Mini Flush there are two optional bonus bets that can be placed alongside the main ante bet - a High bet, and a Low bet. You win the High bet by getting a high hand ( flush upwards) and the Low bet from a low hand starting from a maximum of a 9. Just as in 3 Card, you'll be paid out on High and Low bets irrelevant of what happens in the main ante game.

Mini Flush 'High' Bet Payouts

•  Pair: Push (No win, the original bet is returned)
•  Flush: 2 to 1
•  Straight: 4 to 1
•  Straight Flush: 75 to 1
•  Three of a Kind: 100 to 1

Mini Flush 'Low' Bet Payouts

•  Highest Card 10: Push
•  Highest Card 9: 1 to 1
•  Highest Card 8: 2 to 1
•  Highest Card 7: 4 to 1
•  Highest Card 6: 15 to 1
•  Highest Card 5: 50 to 1

There are some drawbacks which will become apparent from these payout tables.

1. There is no payout for a pair.

2. Payouts for flushes and straights may be lower than in standard 3 Card (make sure you check the rules before playing).

3. The bonus bet effectively entails you placing double the money (ie on High and Low, rather than just on one bonus overall).

4. Some operators of Mini Flush will force you to double your initial ante if you want to continue playing after the flop of your 3 cards and to see the dealers hand.

Ultimate Three Card Poker

This is a version of 3 card which you may also see named as Face Up. The key aspect of Ultimate/Face Up is that the dealer only reveals one card in each head to head game rather than all three. Standard rules generally apply, but the big difference is in the betting process.

In an Ultimate game you need to make an additional blind bet that's the equivalent of your Ante. Of course you can choose to make a pair plus bet too.

If you show at least a pair in your 3 card hand, you can make an additional bet of up to three times the ante instead of the normal double. Clearly this 3 times bet is allowed because you can only see one dealer card. Anything less than a pair, and you can only double up on a bet as in standard games.

The blind bet is a loser if lower than the dealers, a winner if higher, and a push if your hand is lower than a flush.

From a house edge perspective this version offers roughly the same winning chance in percentage terms, but of course there are some additional elements thrown in that could increase the volatility. You'll need to take the extra risks into account and it's suggested that you fold any hand lower then J-7-4. Also be wary of raising the full 3 times your wager unless you're holding at least a pair.

Bets on the pair plus in this game can be worthwhile. With higher odds payouts the house edge sees a reduction to just over 2%.

Three Card Slots

I found this slots version of 3 card at the William Hill online casino. It's a unique slots game based firmly on the card game version we know and love. William Hill offer the option of either playing it for cash or for free.

The slot features both Hold and Nudge options which help improve on potential winning line combinations. Each reel is made up of symbols showing all 52 cards in the deck. Operation is straightforward - select your stake, press the spin buttons, and stop each reel individually to stop it spinning. You're obviously trying to line up a good 3 card hand on the win line.

Holds are awarded randomly and can be applied across any of the reels, nudges are awarded when a 4th reel to the right of the normal winning three stops on the same number as any of those three. When this happens you get one free nudge. If the number matches and the suit matches, you get two nudges.

Seems like a good option to me for any players who are also keen on slots. I think this one would work well as the subject of an online slots tournament. Sadly as we've seen before , it's hard to find 3 card tournaments though playing a 3 card type game in a slots tourney could be a good alternative.

Three Card 21 "n" Done

This variation of the game has only recently been introduced to Nevada casinos, and it may not be long before we see it in the online casinos game list.

21 n Done is part blackjack and part 3 card, providing an interesting variation for of sets of fans. It pays good odds on strong hands of 3 cards, but if you land a weakish hand that totals over 21 you're able to split it into three separate hands.

It takes a bit of concentration to get your head around the rules at first.

Each round begins by players placing two bets - one for the standard 3 hand and another for the 21 bonus game. Three cards are then dealt to each player, with payouts for the 21 bonus as follows:

21 total: 1 to 1
Pair: 1 to 1
Flush: 3 to 2
Straight: 2 to 1
Trips: 5 to 1
Straight Flush: 15 to 1
3 Card Royal: 50 to 1
3 Card Royal in Diamonds: 200 to 1

If your hand shows a total of 21 after the deal, you'll collect on the bonus wager plus be paid at evens on the Three Card 21 bet too.

Now we move to the bit where blackjack comes into play.

If the dealer is showing an ace, each player has the option to buy insurance which pays out 2 to 1 (just like normal). If the dealer does have blackjack then all insurance bets are paid out.

If the dealer does not show blackjack and the player shows a total that's more than 21 there are two options for the player - they can either surrender the hand and lose half of their three card wager amount in the process, or they make two additional bets of the same amount, splitting the three card hand into three distinct blackjack hands.

Some additional rules to note:

If a player has an ace it can be counted as 11 to take the hand count to over 21
If a player has a pair - irrelevant of whether the total count is over 21 - their 3 cards can be used to make 3 blackjack hands. Note that this is not a forced decision, you could still just hold the hand you have and stand or draw another card.

In any round where hands are split, each hand plays like a normal blackjack hand except for any hand total of 21 is paid 1 to 1 automatically plus pairs cannot be split twice.

All in all, if you find 21 n Done on the games list wherever you're playing it'll be worth taking a second look. The odds should be more in your favour provided you play optimal general strategy.

Strategy For Live 3 Card Poker Games

You won't see too many articles on the techniques used to gain an advantage in live games, so here I'll try to fill the gap.

As you'd expect, it's not easy, and is limited to either gaining some knowledge of what other cards are in play, or using promotions to increase benefits and/or playing time.

Knowing What's In Play

Clearly if you have knowledge of one or more cards being held in the dealers hand, you are better placed to make a decision on how to play your own.

It'll be extremely rare to ever be in this position legally, though there are remote chances of using your eagle eyes to watch as an inexperienced dealer deals out the cards.

Using Promotions

Promotions for casino gaming are widely used in live casinos. They'll come in the form of VIP or comp points or bonuses which can normally be used in exchange for goods, services, or occasionally rebates on losses.

None of these of course give any added info about the hands, and the reality is that the strategies for live 3 card are really limited to those for online games.


The way to play 3 card poker and the strategies you can use to improve your chances are fairly basic, but that doesn't stop the game from being a favourite of many casino regulars. For safe gaming, making sure you play at respected and trusted casinos is of course a sensible step to take, plus keeping an eye open for the payout percentages of any casino you do play at. These can vary from casino to casino.

Always remember that just as with all casino games, it’s not going to be easy for you to win. Especially if you're looking for a guaranteed long term profit. What you will find though, is that intensive practice and playing the correct strategies will ensure you get a sufficient number of wins to keep your money going as long as possible.

It's a game where you don't need to spend too much time thinking. There's no real worry about table etiquette, and if you play online the electronic software that drives casino games will make playing easy.

3 Card Poker Practice


3 Card Poker - Strategy & Tips To Win

The optimal strategies, secrets and tips involved in learning how to play and win at 3 card poker are straightforward and easy to understand.

Of course there are plenty of other real money games to play - but if you want a casino-based one that gives a low house edge of between 2% and 4%, then three card is a great choice provided you play carefully. With the correct approach, you can get plenty of playing time for your money. Land three big cards when you have a bonus side bet and you could win a jackpot-type sum on one hand.

On this page you'll find an easy to read guide exploring how and where to play, the odds of making winning hands, and what the best playing strategies are for winning at 3 card poker....read more
•  3 Card Poker - How To Play

•  Bankroll Strategy

•  Free Practice Game

•  Video Guide - Best Strategies

•  Payouts

•  Probability

•  Where To Play

•  Tournaments

•  3 Card Apps
•  Progressive Jackpots

•  Live Dealer 3 Card Poker Games

•  More Free Games & Practice

•  More Info & Resources

•  Betting StrategiesPair Plus

•  Optimal Playing Strategies

•  Variations Of 3 Card Poker

Teen Patti  Mini Flush  Slots  21 "n" Done

•  Live Game Strategies

Fast-paced card games like 3 Card Poker are high on the favourite list for many poker fans who like to play casino games on the side. Three card has straightforward rules and is a lot easier to learn than other poker games such as Texas Holdem.

You'll play plenty of hands per hour, there are many ways to get low value wins using optimal playing strategies - and winning side bets get generous payouts for strong hands like three of a kind or a straight flush.

Not enough cash to buy a car, but the enjoyment level is high.

There are no real secrets to playing well, but by playing correct 3 card strategy you'll get regular payouts (around 25% of hands), and with the only critical decision being whether to fold or play (plus maybe how much you're initially betting) it's all pretty straightforward.

The key to 3 Card is that Probability is what the game is all about, and any description you read should force home that point.

Practice all you want for free of for fun with the three card poker practice game to the left.

If you're ready to play for money there are not many better places than Slots.LV or Bovada's casino. With Bovada you get a 200% match bonus on your first deposit plus further bonuses up to $5000 . Plenty of cash to try out the strategies detailed on this page.

3 Card Poker - How To Play Explained

The ‘3 Card Poker’ name is patented, you will see many versions of this game - both single and multiplayer - at online or bricks and mortar casinos with names such as ‘tri card’ or even ‘trey card poker’. It's also known as Flash or Teen Patti, and at the time of its invention in the mid 1990's was known as 3 Card brag. Actually it's two games in one, with options of playing one or the other, or both in the same hand. Many players love its simplicity, with fans often just calling it 3 card.

The Basics

Two bets are made before any cards are dealt, these are known as the ‘ante’ and ‘pair plus’ bets.

Playing The Ante In 3 Card Poker

The ante bet is played against the dealer, while the ‘pair plus’ bet is independent and pays out for poker hands of 1 pair or better. After your bets are placed you and the dealer are dealt 3 cards and you must decide whether to play or fold. The dealers hand is dealt face down so neither you or the dealer see it, so you must make your decision based just on just your own.

If you choose to play your hand in a 3 card poker game you must place another bet equal to the ante. Your hand is then compared to the dealer’s 3-card poker hand. If you fold, you lose and all money goes to the house.

Playing Pair Plus

In Pair Plus you're not going up against the strength of the dealers hand, and whether you win or not is determined entirely by the strength of your own. If it's good enough, you win. And a winning hand is achieved - as the name Pair Plus implies - by landing at least a pair in your three card hand and hopefully three of a kind, a flush, or a run.

Remember that if you're playing both games and you fold, you'll also lose the pair plus side of the bet. Though of course it would be a poor decision to fold with a pair or better already showing.

Winning Hands & Easy Ways To Remember 3 Card Payouts

1-to-1 is paid on both the ante and raise bets if you beat the dealer and the dealer’s hand ‘qualifies’. That is, you double your money on both bets. To qualify the dealer must hold queen high or better

A non-qualifying dealers hand (lower than a queen high) pays you 1-to-1 on the ante bet only (the ‘play’ bet is a push or returned) regardless of who holds the best hand.

In addition an ‘ante bonus’ is paid for straights (1-to-1), 3 of a kind (4-to-1) and straight flushes (5-to-1). These bonuses get paid even if you lose to a dealers qualifying hand.

Pair plus bets are paid independently of the dealer’s hand. This side-bet pays 1-to-1 for a pair, 4-to-1 for a flush, 5-to-1 for a straight, 30-to-1 for 3 of a kind and 40-to-1 for a straight flush. The pair plus bet is optional - though you would not be happy to see a straight flush if you decline this bet while playing!

All very well you might say, but I want an easy way to remember the card rankings, hand strength, and payout table - a sort of cheat sheet in fact.

Fortunately you won't have to worry too much. All of the online casinos I've seen either display or have a quick link to the payout list. In most circumstances you'll only ever be one click away from knowing what you can win with which hand and which hands to play.
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