3-card poker is one of the most popular table games of all time. It’s easy to learn and to play, and that’s just what inventor Derek Webb had in mind in the early 1990s when he first designed the game. Webb was a poker player who wanted to offer a poker-style table game to compete with blackjack. His idea was to design a game that went fast, like other table games, but also had large payoffs.
The game is very popular at online casinos because the house odds are relatively low for a game that can pay as high as 50-1 for a Mini-Royal and 40-1 for other straight flush hands.
3-card poker is widely available in Macau, Korea, Singapore and other popular casino destinations throughout Asia. For those who want to play 3-card poker online, many of the best Asian bookies and Asian casino sites offer the game in Flash format.
3-card poker is a house-banked game played with a regular deck of 52 cards. No joker or wild cards are used. At a land-based casino, the game is dealt with a standard-size blackjack table. And at online casinos, the game can be found under the tab labeled “Table Games.” In either setting, the player plays against the house on the ‘Ante’ and ‘Raise’ wagers, but an optional wager called the ‘Pair Plus’ pays any time the player is dealt a hand of one-pair or higher.
As the name implies, each player and the dealer receive three cards. To receive cards, each player must wager on the Ante spot, which pays even-money when the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand, or when the dealer fails to qualify by making a hand of at least queen high. The only variation on traditional poker hand rankings is that at 3-card poker, a straight beats a flush because a flush is easier to make with just three cards.
Regardless of whether the player wins the hand or not, or the dealer qualifies or not, the house pays a bonus on three player hands: a straight (1 to 1), three of a kind (4 to 1), and a straight flush (5 to 1). Some online casinos have a slightly higher payoff for the ante bonus, so check what your site offers and choose the best game.
After placing the Ante bet and seeing their cards, the player must fold their hand and lose their wager, or place a matching wager in the Raise circle. All cards are dealt face down, so no dealer cards are exposed to help the player, but since the dealer only qualifies to “win” or “beat the player” when their hand is at least queen high, the player should raise with any hand of queen-8-4 or higher.
The Ante wager pays even money (1-1) if the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand or the dealer fails to qualify. If the dealer does qualify and the player wins the hand, the Raise will also pay even money. If the dealer fails to qualify, only the Ante is paid and the Raise is a push (no action).
An optional bonus bet on 3-card poker tables is the Pair Plus wage. This bet does not need to match the Ante bet, it just has to be at least the table minimum. The Pair Plus wins anytime the player has at least a pair. If the player’s three-card hand is less than a pair, the wager loses. At some casinos, especially those online, the Pair Plus wager may be made without an Ante bet.
As long as the player has at least a pair, the Pair Plus wager is a winner. Payoffs vary, so search for the best online casinos to find your favorite games and play where the odds are best.
A Mini Royal Bonus is offered at a few land and internet casinos. A Mini-Royal is the Ace-King-Queen of the same suit, and instead of the 40-1 straight flush payoff, the casino pays 50-1 on the Pair Plus wager. In addition, a few casinos have begun to offer a higher bonus pay off on the Ante wager for a Mini Royal also.
Casino players have found 3-card poker to be lots of fun, especially since the Ante bet pays off so often. Overall, the odds vary by the payoffs offered at each table; the house edge for the Ante bet shown above is 3.37 percent. The house edge on the Pair Plus wager is higher, coming in at 7.28 percent for the payoffs shown above.