How to Play Three Card Poker: The Ultimate Guide


Three Card Poker is one of the most popular and easy casino games to learn. Three Card Poker is less complex than similar games such as Pai Gow Poker and Blackjack. Players only need to decide what type of bets to make, and once the cards are dealt, between calling and folding. Players do not make any decisions on how to play their hand such as in Pai Gow, where the player must decide which cards to play as the two-card and five-card hands. Players also do not make any complex decisions such as in Blackjack, where players have the option of standing, hitting, surrendering, splitting, or doubling down. Once players know the Three Card Poker hand rankings, which are slightly different than regular Poker, the rest is easy.

Three Card Poker Hand Rankings

Due to hands being comprised of three cards instead of five, hand rankings in Three Card Poker differ from standard Poker hand rankings:

Straight Flush – 10♣9♣8♣
Three of a Kind – 5♦ 5♥5♠
Straight – J♠10♥9♣
Flush – Q♥9♥4♥
Pair – 9♠9♦2♣
High Card – K♣8♥4♦

As you can see, Three Card Poker hand rankings differ from standard Poker in that a Straight beats a flush, and three of a kind ranks higher than a straight or a flush.

Ante and Play Bet

Three Card Poker offers two ways to bet, Ante and Pair Plus. The Ante is a required bet and the Pair Plus is a side bet, we’ll go over the Ante and Play bets first. Once the Ante bet is placed, the player is then dealt their three-card hand. Now the player must decide to call or fold. If the player calls, they must match their ante bet (This is called the Play Bet) and the hand goes to a showdown between the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand. For the player to win their bets (Ante bet and Play bet) the player must have a higher-ranking hand than the dealer, and the dealer’s hand must “qualify”. For a dealer hand to qualify, it must be a Queen high or better. If the player has the higher-ranking hand but the dealer doesn’t qualify, the player will win their ante bet and push (break even) on the play bet. Let’s look at some examples with an ante bet of $25:

Player is dealt: A♠8♥5♣

Now the player must decide to call or fold. This will always be an easy decision because in Three Card Poker the cut-off between calling and folding is always the same. If the player is dealt a Q64 or better, they should always call, and if dealt a Q63 or worse, always fold. This easy decision is why many people prefer Three Card Poker to a game such as Blackjack, where deciding on the optimal play is often difficult. Since the player in our example has a hand better than Q64 with the Ace high, the player calls by placing another $25 on the Play Bet. The player is now risking $50, $25 on the Ante and $25 on the Play bet. There are now three possible outcomes:

1. The Dealer receives a stronger hand than our player’s Ace high, and the player loses both the $25 Ante and Play Bets

2. The Dealer receives a weaker hand than our player’s Ace high, such as K♣J♣8♠. In this scenario, the player would win the $25 Ante bet, and the $25 Play bet for a profit of $50. The player would win the Play bet because they have a stronger hand than the dealer and the dealer’s hand is higher than Queen high which qualifies and pays the player 1:1 on their Play bet.

3. The Dealer receives a weaker hand than our player’s Ace high, such as J♣10♥8♥. In this scenario, the player would win the $25 Ante bet, and break even on the $25 play bet for a profit of $25. The player would break even or “push” on their Play bet because the dealer’s hand of 10 high does not qualify.

The Pair Plus Bet

If you’re looking for more action in addition the Ante Bet, the Pair Plus bet is for you. The Pair Plus is an optional bonus bet and pays different odds based on the player’s hand strength. Here are the payouts for Pair Plus at Downtown Grand:

Straight Flush: 40 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind: 30 to 1
Straight: 6 to 1
Flush: 3 to 1
Pair: 1 to 1

The player will still win their Pair Plus bet if they get a qualifying hand but lose to the dealer. For example, if the player is dealt a flush but loses to a higher flush, the player will still receive their 3:1 odds on their Pair Plus Bet.

Three Card Poker in Downtown Las Vegas

Three Card Poker

If you’re looking for a simple game and a great time, Three Card Poker is where it’s at, and you’ll find the best Three Card Poker action at the Downtown Grand in Downtown Las Vegas. If you aren’t already a member, be sure to sign up for the Downtown Grand Rewards Program at the Player’s Club booth to enjoy all the benefits of membership and casino promotions. We hope our guide has taught you all you need to know to get started in Three Card Poker, and we look forward to seeing you at the tables!


Disclaimer: All gaming advice found on is strictly for entertainment purposes. Know when to stop before you start ®. Gambling problems? Call 1-800-GAMBLER in NJ or 1-800-522-4700 in NV

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