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Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is another poker variation where the players compete against the dealer rather than themselves. It is played on a table similar to a blackjack table.

Depending on where you play, the house may follow this procedure to start a game. The dealer will receive a new deck of cards to sort and inspect. This will be verified by the floorperson. The cards are spread out face up on the table for inspection by the first player at the table. The cards are then turned face down on the table and thoroughly 'washed' or mixed and stacked. Every deck of cards must be separately sorted, inspected, verified, spread, inspected, mixed, stacked and shuffled according to house rules.

There are three betting areas marked on the table - play, ante and "pair plus". These are the only bets made in three card poker.

A Three Card Poker table
Players may bet that their hand is higher in rank than the dealers or they can wager that they have a pair or higher. Each player and the dealer is dealt three cards face down.

The pair plus bet is an independent bet and payout is based on the following:

A pair: pays 1 to 1
A flush: pays 4 to 1
A Straight: pays 6 to 1
Three of a kind: pays 30 to 1
A Straight flush: pays 40 to 1

The other bet available to players is the ante and play bets. The player places their bets and after seeing their cards they may place a bet on the "play" spot equal to the ante and continue or fold and forfeit their ante and pair plus bet, if made.

After all players have made their decisions the dealer reveals their hand. If the dealer has a Queen or higher, then the players hands are examined. If the dealer's hand is better, the player loses the ante an play bets. If the player's hand is better, the player is paid at 1 to 1 for both the ante and play bets.

Winning players may also be awarded a bonus regardless of the dealer's hand:

For a straight, the bonus is paid at 1 to 1
For three of a kind, at 4 to 1, and
For a straight flush, at 5 to 1

The house advantage on ante/play bets is 1.5% and 2.3% on pair plus bets.

During play the only decision you need to make in Three Card Poker is whether to make the wager or fold. You could try the simple strategy of doing what the dealer does and make the wager if you have a queen or higher in your hand and fold if you don't.

How do you win at Three Card Poker? Many experts agree that all you need to do is raise your bet if you have Q, 6, 4 or better. Why has this poker variation become so popular? Many prefer it to Caribbean Stud Poker because when you have a strong poker hand you get paid, even if the dealer does not qualify. It can be frustrating to many players when you get a strong hand like 4 of a kind and the dealer has nothing and you don't get the big payout that that sort of hand should receive.