Three card poker is actually two games in one. There is the Play/Ante game where you are playing against the dealer to see who has the highest hand. There is also the Pair Plus game where you are wagering on whether or not you will be dealt a pair or better. Or you can play all three wagers.

How to Play Three Card Poker:

The Play

There are three betting circles in front of each seat. The top betting circle is labeled Pair Plus where the player puts a wager on the pair plus game. Beneath that are two circles labeled Ante and Play for the base game. The game starts with the player making a wager in the Pair Plus and or Ante circle equal to the table minimum. After all the players have made their bets the dealer will give each player a three card hand that is dealt by the Shuffle Master machine.
3 card poker


If a player has made a bet on the Ante he must make his decision to fold or play after looking at his hand. If the player folds they forfeit their Ante wager. If the players want to continue they must make an additional bet in the Play circle equal to their Ante bet.

The Dealer

The dealer needs to “qualify” with a hand of Queen or higher. If the dealers hand does not contain a Queen or higher all players still active in the hand will be paid even money for their Ante wager and their bet on the Play will be a push.

If the dealer’s hand does qualify then their hand is compared to the player’s hand. If your hand beats the dealer’s hand you will be paid even money for your Ante and Play bets. If the dealer’s hand beats your hand you lose both bets.

Hand rankings

  • Straight Flush: Three cards of the same suit in sequence (pays 40-1)
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of equal rank (pays 30-1)
  • Straight: Three cards in sequence of mixed suits (pays 6-1)
  • Flush: Three cards of the same suit (pays 3-1)
  • Pair: Two cards of equal rank (pays 1-1)
  • High card: The highest card in your hand (pair plus payout)

Ante Bonus

There is a bonus payout on the Ante bet for certain hands and the bonus does not require an additional wager. If you have a straight, three of a kind or straight flush you will be paid a bonus whether you beat the dealer or not.

Pair Plus

The pair plus wager is based only on whether your three-card hand has a pair or higher. It doesn’t matter if the dealer qualifies or even beats you if you have a bet on the pair plus. If your hand has a pair or better you win.

Easy and Fun are where the popularity of three-card poker comes from as well as the simplicity of the game. Since you are not playing against the other players a camaraderie can develop amongst the players at the table as they root and cheer for each other to beat the dealer.