Three Card Poker is a relatively new game that land-based casinos throughout the world are ubiquitously offering as part of their lineup of table games. More and more online casinos are also offering this easily learnt poker game. Three-card poker, which is two games in one, is played with a single 52-card deck. The layout of the table is one in which each seat corresponds to three betting circles on the playing felt. The circles are positioned with one on top, and two adjacent circles immediately below the top circle. The top circle is labeled with the words “Pair Plus” and is where wagers are made for playing the Pair Plus game (the second of two games). The two underlying circles are each labeled “Ante” and “Play”.
All games begin by players making ante wagers equal to the table minimum and the optional Pair Plus wager. Chips are correspondingly placed into either the Pair Plus or Ante circle. When all chips have been apportioned, the dealer will commence to deal each player and himself three cards, beginning with the player to the dealer’s immediate left. After being dealt their cards, each player must decide on whether to fold their hand – consequently forfeiting their ante and pair plus wager if it was made – or continue playing the game, thus requiring them to place an additional bet in the “Play” circle equal to the amount of the ante bet. In regards to the Pair Plus wager, it is played out at this time. The Pair Plus wager does not play against the dealer’s hand, but is only contingent upon the cards in the players hand. If the player is holding a pair or higher, they will be paid out according to the casinos paytable. The payoff ranges from 1 to 1 for a Pair, up to 40 to 1 for a Straight Flush (although a few casinos in Las Vegas are known to offer 50 to 1).
As for playing out the ante and play bets, after all players have decided to fold or stay in the game, the dealer will then expose his three-card hand. If the dealer does not qualify with at least a Queen or higher, then all ante wagers are paid even money and secondary “Play” bets are returned back to each player. If the dealer does qualify with a Queen or higher, all player hands are compared to the dealer’s hand. Losing hands lose both the ante and play bet to the casino, while winning player hands win even money on both the ante and play bet. Tie hands go the player at some casinos, which helps bring the Casinos Edge down slightly.
Players also can win money from the Ante Bonus, which does not require a side bet. The way this works is that a player’s hand of either a Straight, Three-of-a-Kind, or Straight Flush will be paid a bonus, usually in the amount of 1 to 1 for a Straight, 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 for a Three-of-a-Kind, and 5 to 1 or 4 to 1 for a Straight Flush. Keep in mind that the payout scale for the Ante Bonus affects the overall House Edge, and players should look for an Ante Bonus payout of 5-4-1, as opposed to 4-3-1 to get the lowest Casinos Edge possible. Also remember that at the online casino you will often be playing heads up against the dealer, without other players at the table.
One last thing to know about Three Card Poker is regarding the poker hand rankings. Since there are three card hands, as opposed to five, the rankings are similar yet different. A high card ranking is still the highest card in one’s hand. A Pair is still two card of equal rank. A Flush is three cards of matching suit. A Straight is three cards of any suit, but of consecutive value. A Three-of-a-Kind is still three cards of the same rank. A Straight Flush is three cards of matching suit and in consecutive value (sequence).