Three Card Poker is a common casino game based on poker. The game consists of two separate bets: pair plus and ante/play. After players place their pair plus and ante bets, three cards are dealt to each player, as well as three to the dealer. The players decide if they are in or if they fold. Players deciding to play must place a bet in play equal to their ante bet. All cards are revealed, and wins and losses are dealt with.

There are seven hands that can result. From worst to best, they are: high card, pair, flush, straight, three of a kind (trips), and straight flush. Note that, unlike standard poker hand ordering, straight beats flush, and three of a kind is the second-best hand.

Pair Plus: Pair plus is a bet that you will get a pair or better. Any pair will do. Pair plus pays:

  1. loses on high card
  2. 1-to-1 on a pair
  3. 4-to-1 on a flush
  4. 6-to-1 on a straight
  5. 30-to-1 on a three of a kind
  6. 40-to-1 on a straight flush
This is the standard "full pay" table, for which the house advantage is 2.32%. Since you make no decision on this bet after you have seen cards, there is no strategy.

Ante/Play: In ante/play, you are playing against the dealer. Your play bet must match your ante. If you fold, you lose your ante. House plays on a queen-high or better. If house does not play, you are paid on your ante and your play bet pushes, regardless of who had the better hand. If house plays, you are paid on both ante and play if your hand is better, otherwise you lose both. Ties are normally dealt as a push on both bets, but ties are uncommon; when I played at Wild Wild West in Atlantic City, neither the dealer nor the pit boss were certain what to do when a tie occured.

Besides the standard bet, there is also a bonus on the ante if you have a straight or better:

  1. 1-for-1 on a straight
  2. 4-for-1 on a three of a kind
  3. 5-for-1 on a straight flush
Without the bonus, the house advantage is 8.66%. With the bonus, the house advantage drops to 3.37%.

The optimal strategy for ante/play is to stay on a Q-6-4 or better. If the house pays the player on ties, you should also stay on a Q-6-3 of different suits.

Reference: Wizard of Odds ( It also contains information about alternative (worse) pay tables.

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