Comparatively a much newer card game in off-line and online casinos (for instance in online casino like Bet365 where you can also avail a sign up Bet365 bonus), three card poker has rapidly made a big name for itself in the poker world as well as among the vast array of popular card/table games played in casinos.
A large majority of players get attracted to three card poker primarily because it’s a lot of fun to play and is pretty simple to understand and master. If you look closely, three card poker is more like a combination of two different games – ante & play and pair plus. Players are free to bet on both or either of these bet types, depending on the specific house rules. Both these betting variants of the game involve three card hands.
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Unlike as in regular poker where different players battle against each other, this particular poker variant involves players competing against a pre-decided payout schedule for some pre-specified hands or against the dealer. In the ante and play betting version of three card poker, players wager against the dealer and the winnings are determined based on who out of the two holds the better three card poker hand. In pair plus betting variant, players normally place bets on the possibility of getting dealt at least a pair or higher.
The game of three card poker came into being in the year 1994 and was invented by the owner of Prime Table Games, Derek Webb. The game was made available for public play for the first time at the Atlantis Casino Resort, Reno.
How the table is set up in three card poker
The table on which three card poker is played is almost the same as the blackjack table. Its layout features 3 betting circles right in front of every player’s seat. The betting circle at the top is titled ‘pair plus,’ where the players are required to place their bets for the pair plus betting game. The betting circle in the middle is titled ‘ante’, while the one at the bottom and close to the player is titled ‘play’.
How the game is started
Players start the game by placing wagers on the ante or pair plus circles, depending on the minimum bets applicable to the table. When betting on ante & play, players wager on the possibility of getting a hand higher than that of the dealer. However, in pair plus bets, players bet on the possibility of getting dealt at least a pair or higher in their three card hand.
Once all the players have placed their bets, the dealer deals 3 cards to every player seated at the table, and then himself/herself. These cards are dealt one at a time and are placed in face down position on the table. The play starts with the first player seated to the left of the dealer and moves in clockwise direction from there on, around the table.
Ante and Play
Any player who had placed a bet in the ante circle must make the decision whether he/she wishes to play or fold his/her cards (after having looked at them). In case the player decides to fold his/her cards, he/she would need to forfeit his/her ante bet. On the other hand, if he wishes to continue playing, he/she would be required to place an additional bet inside the play circle. This additional bet amount would need to be at least the equivalent of the originally placed ante bet.
Once all the players have made their decisions and taken corresponding actions, the dealer flips up his 3 card hand. It’s imperative for the dealer to qualify in order to continue playing. The qualifying criteria for dealer is having a hand that has at least a Queen or higher. In case the dealer doesn’t have a queen or higher in his/her hand, all players still active in the game get paid 1 to 1 on even money basis for their ante bets and the bet amount in play is refunded.
On the other hand, if the dealer’s hand does consist of at least a queen or higher, his/her cards compared with the cards of all players still alive in the game. Any player whose hand beats that of the dealer is paid on even money basis for both his/her ante and play bets.
Applicable hand rankings in three card poker
The hand rankings applicable in three card poker are different from that of the five card version as there are less number of cards dealt to players (3), meaning there are less chances of getting good combinations.
Following are the hand rankings applicable to this version, starting from the highest to the lowest:
Straight flush – A hand in which you get 3 sequential cards belonging to the same suit
Three of a kind – A hand in which you get 3 cards of the same rank
Straight – A hand in which you get 3 sequential cards of mixed suits
Flush – A hand in which you get 3 cards belonging to the same suit
Pair – A hand in which you get at least 2 cards of the same rank
High card – Highest card of the hand
About ante bonus in three card poker
One of the most interesting features of three card poker is that the players are awarded a bonus payout for their ante bets if they score certain specific hands. Please note, this bonus payout doesn’t require the player to bet any additional amount. Any player having a straight flush, three of a kind or a straight is awarded this bonus regardless of whether his/her hand eventually beats the dealer’s hand or not.
The payout awarded for such ante bonus may vary from one casino to the other, and is normally based on the payout structure displayed on the payout board kept close to the poker table. In general, a straight flush is rewarded at 4 to 1 or 5 to 1, straight at 1 to 1 and three of a kinds at 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.
Basic strategy for ante and play
There’s one particular strategy you can effectively use in case of ante bets in three card poker. You must choose to fold your cards any time your hand is lower than a Q 6 and 4. On the other hand, it’s always recommended to continue playing and placing a play bet whenever your hand is higher than Q 6 and 4.
Let’s tell you how this calculation should ideally be done! To calculate if your hand is indeed higher compared to a Q 6 and 4, you must first look at your highest card. If your highest card is better than Queen, that is a King or an Ace, you must definitely place a play bet, no matter what your other 2 cards are.
In case your highest card is Queen and the second highest card is higher than 6, you must still place a play bet regardless of the value of your third card. In the event that you’re second highest card is also a 6, you must see if you’re third highest card is higher than 4 or not. It’s generally advisable to avoid playing if your third highest card is lower than 6 in rank.
About pair plus
As also mentioned earlier, the pair plus wagers in three card poker are simply about the possibility of a player getting a pair in his/her three card hand or not. If he/she indeed scores a pair or higher in his/her hand, he/she wins; no questions asked.
The pair plus bets aren’t dependent on the qualification of the dealer and are also independent of whether a player has lost in the ante and play bet or not. Simply put, if a player does get a pair or higher, he wins, and not if he/she doesn’t. The odds of getting dealt at least a pair as a part of three card hand is normally 4 to 1.
The payouts for pair plus bets are normally displayed on every respective three card poker table of the offline or online casino, for instance Bet365 and others. (On a side note, if you’re indeed playing three card poker at Bet365, don’t forget to ask for your Bet365 bonus, which is awarded at sign-up).
The online version of three card poker
Since three card poker is a fairly new variant of the conventional game of poker, and came into being just around the same time that online casinos made their first appearance, the game was quickly lapped up by the internet-based casinos and given a very attractive online form. As three card poker is a very simple game and its set up is quite similar to the conventional blackjack table, it has turned out to be quite popular among the new age online players.
Players who play three card poker regularly on the internet, do so simply because its’ betting options are very easy, there’s minimal strategy involved and the game is pretty fast-paced too. While playing three card poker, players get sufficiently exposed to the excitement that makes poker so famous, and some of its hand rankings too. However, there is no complex betting strategy (commonly associated with most poker variants) in three card poker, which keeps it very light.
Players wanting to learn and master three card poker must first master it at some good online casino, for instance Bet365 (where you can also avail an attractive Bet365 bonus). You can play it for free at such a casino, without making any financial commitments. Furthermore, as this game is pretty easy, it can be learnt fairly quickly, so much so that even a newbie can start betting like a pro in a matter of few hours!
Three card poker has rapidly emerged as a shining star in the online casino world. It effectively combines the excitement offered by conventional poker with its own two betting variants (ante & play and pair plus bets), making it highly enjoyable for both seasoned players and beginners alike. Owing to the fact that the game came into emergence not very long ago in the year 1994, the way it has spread in casinos all over the world is stupendous to say the least!
Three card poker reached even greater heights after it was adopted by online casinos and marketed aggressively by them. Majority of seasoned poker players prefer playing poker online in the modern era and only occasionally step into land-based casinos. With more than 2000 quality online casinos operating on the Internet, all you require is a personal computer and a working Internet connection to get going! Don’t have a personal computer? Doesn’t matter! You can play online casino games on your tablet PC or smartphone too! Three card poker can be termed as one of those few games that benefited immensely from online gambling industry, and in turn also helped in increasing its revenues.