Three Card Poker Origins
The popular game of three card poker that’s played in off-line and online casinos world-over, may seem like related to five card draw or five card stud, but, it’s actually not a derivative of any of these poker games! Its lineage follows a completely different path.
Back in the days of Renaissance, when none of the five card poker games existed, card players in Spain or Italy used to play a game called Primero. It used to involve dealing of four cards to every player. That game underwent many changes and by around 16 century, its rules were revised by the British, resulting in creation of an altogether new three card game known as ‘Bragg.’ This game had several aspects of another popular French card game known as ‘Brelan,’ in the manner that its betting method, hand rankings and use of bluffing were the same.
That Three card Bragg game also underwent many changes and started getting spelled with a single ‘g’ in the modern era. However, its original playing method has remained unchanged for around 400 years. Every player is required to place an ante bet in order to play the game and is dealt three facedown cards. This dealing is followed by a betting round in which the players must decide if they wish to fold or bet.
Once a player places a bet, the other players must either raise the bet amount or place the same amount of bet to stay in play. Else, they must fold their hands. The betting continues till the time there are at least 2 players left in the game who haven’t folded their hands, in which case either of the player may double the final bet amount and ask the opponent to show his/her hand. Both the players’ hands are revealed in the end and the player with the higher hand claims the pot. In case of a tie, it is the player who had asked for show who loses.
Three card brag later got exported to the British ruled countries of Nepal and India, where it received tremendous popularity. The local gamblers in these countries gave it a new name and started referring to it as ‘Teen Patti’ or ‘Flush.’ The game also continued being the favourite pastime of English people up until the later 20th century.
It was this three card brag game and not the five card poker which inspired the British poker pro Derek J Webb to create a new age casino card game known as three card poker in the 90s. Initially, Webb had given a very distinct name to this game and had called it casino brag, distancing it considerably from the popular poker games. However, it didn’t take much time for the players to rename it as ‘Brit Brag,’ making its origins clear. Names like ‘Tri Card Poker’ and ‘Three Card Poker’ weren’t even thought of at that time. After all, this was nowhere close to any of the poker games!
The differences between Teen Patti and Brit Brag became bigger and bigger over a period of time, with the latter involving betting against the house, and not the other players, unlike the former. Another way in which these two games differed from each other was with regard to the betting rules. The betting rules of Brit brag were modified to do away with the upward spiraling bets. Rather, a simple ante bet was introduced, followed by a play bet. Additional pair plus side bet was introduced for players interested in placing more bets. In order to win ante/play bets, a player’s hand needed to beat the dealer’s hand. The side bet on the other hand could win regardless of the other bet, as long as the player got a pair or higher in his/her hand.
How Brit Brag also differed from conventional poker was that no provisions of bluffing, raising, calling or checking were there. The hand rankings were different as well.
Considering this background, you may wonder how was it that casino brag got rechristened as three card poker?! The blame for this can be put on a Las Vegas-based gaming equipment supplier known as Shuffle Master that purchased all rights for the game from Derek Webb in the year 1999. They were sure that the game wouldn’t gain any popularity with American players if it continued being referred to as Brit Brag. So, the American company renamed it three card poker, making it sound more player-friendly and inviting for Americans.