An Insight Into 3-Card Poker Strategy


If you have some knowledge about the world of casino games, you likely know that most people consider poker to be the absolute poster boy. Poker is a game where you can make good bank if you have the skill, and it is also one of the most common deck games. So poker is about the greatest sample of the best things a casino has to offer. Save for one element, that is. Not only does poker have a steep learning curve, it also plays much slower than the average casino game. Thankfully, though, casino gaming is a dynamic bunch. Over the course, the industry mutates, repurposes, and reinvents games anew based on demand. So if you like poker, but want something faster, there is something just for you: three-card poker. 

As the creator, Derek Webb, himself said it, three-card is an improvement over Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride. By that virtue, it also plays faster than both of those. A round of three-card poker is actually quite simple. But as an offshoot of poker, there is indeed a good amount of strategy you can use to gain an edge. Here are some general tips to help you on that path. 

The Rules of Three-card Poker

To actually understand strategic nuances, it is best that we go over the gist of the game briefly. You can actually learn three-card poker on the fly, since there are only a handful of basic rules. In the three-card poker table, online or not, there can be several players playing at a time. But you do not actually play ‘against’ other players as you might in other poker variants. The contest in three-card poker takes place only between the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand. You, the player, can place an ante and a pair plus wager to enter the game. 

Once the round starts, the dealer will deal three cards to you, and three to themselves. All of these are face-down, of course. After you have actually looked at your cards, you can either ‘fold’ or choose to play. If you play, you place another wager cap on top of your deck. Now begins the real game. The dealer reveals their cards. In three-card poker, the dealer has to ‘qualify’ to play against you. The requirement is that the dealer’s hand is at least Queen high. If the dealer does not qualify, you get your play and ante wager 1 to 1. If the dealer does qualify, whoever has the best hand (player/dealer) wins. 

The Poker Hand Ranking

As a fast game, three-hand poker will often attract the casual baccarat crowd or the like. The game is by design simple enough that they do not need to know anything beforehand. The dealer does the hand comparison on your behalf if you do not know basic poker hand tiers. Anyhow, it still benefits you a lot to remember which hand beats which in poker. In three-card poker, you can only have a hand of three cards, obviously, and a straight beats a flush. So there are some nuances when you compare it to the regular poker hand order of superiority. But there are a whole bunch of online resources you can look up while playing online poker. 

If you do not want to, just memorize this hand ranking order. Each hand in the following beats the hand that follows it.

Mini-royal flush (i.e. AKQ) > Straight flush > Three-of-a-kind > Straight > Flush > One Pair > High card. 

When Should You Fold

In this game, you have the option to bet in multiple rounds. To clarify: first you must set down an ante. And then, in order to progress to further play, you have to double that bet with a ‘play bet’. So the first decision you make in poker is whether you should put on the play bet. The advantage of this method is that you can see what kind of hand you got, and then choose to part with a bad hand with only half your money lost. The basic strategy of play is simple. If you want to ‘hit’, i.e. put your caps on the play wager, you are looking at a certain quality of hand. You should play whenever you have a Q with either 6,4, or 7 and any other card. Moreover, if you have an Ace or King, you should never fold. 

Pair Plus and Prime

You have the option to bet on the ‘pair plus’ wager. If you land a special card, this offers great dividends. The high odds (e.g. 6 to 1 on a straight) seem very lucrative. But note that you have a very low chance to land those hands consistently. So instead of a good opportunity, all that pair plus presents is a money sink which will eat up your bankroll eventually. 

In conclusion, we would also like to remind you of a key factor in being a successful gambler: bankroll management. In general, you should never bet more than 1/20th of your gambling money on a wager.

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