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About Three Card Poker

Have you ever wondered how to play Three Card Poker (sometimes called Tri-Card Poker) or which Three Card Poker strategy works the best? You see this popular table game in just about every casino these days and for good reason. It is a fun, fast game with good odds and a relatively low house advantage. Couple that with the fact that the Three Card Poker rules are easy to learn and you can easily see why it has become one of the most successful table games in recent years. So successful in fact that there is now a Three Card Poker Tournament played every year with a grand prize worth $500,000.

There are a few variants to the game like Casino Brag (Sometimes called Brit Brag) and Three Card Brag. Casino Brag is commonly seen in European markets and differs from Three Card Poker in that the dealer needs an ace-queen to qualify. Three-Card Brag is a British card game and has very little in common with the Las Vegas or Atlantic City Three Card Poker played in the U.S. (although it is also sometimes referred to as Three Card Poker).


Why Everyone Loves Three Card Poker

Here are a few reasons why this table game is growing so quickly in popularity:

It's Fast.  A fast pace is fun but you must be cautious, this can also cause you to lose your bankroll fast.

The Strategy is Easy to Learn.  Pair Plus actually requires NO strategy, and Ante/Play requires a fairly simple strategy. However, a player's decisions still have a big impact on how much he or she will win or lose in the long run.

Bonus Payouts!  If you make the Ante and Play wager you can still win the bonus payout even if the dealer does not qualify and even if your hand loses to the dealer.

Three Card Poker Odds. The house advantage on Pair Plus is 2.32% and if played properly, the house advantage on the Ante/Play game can be as low as 2.02%.

A player plays (calls or raises) 67% of the time. If you follow our strategy to minimize the house edge, you will still be in the action more than 2/3 of the time.

Three card poker is based on traditional poker. Most people have played poker at some point in their lives and are already familiar with the rankings of various hands. This makes it easier for people to learn the game quickly and start enjoying some level of success. 


More About Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker (or tri-card poker as itís also called) is an American version of a British game called Brag. This game originated over three hundred years ago as a game known as Primero, a fast-moving betting game using only three cards. As the game evolved, it became known as Post-and-Pair and then again as Brag. This game made it to the States as Casino Brag and Brit-Brag, but eventually evolved again into the game we now know as Three Card Poker.

Three Card Poker is very similar to the Indian game Teen Patti with some minor differences. The differences are that the ranking of a straight flush and three of a kind are interchanged, and in teen patti, high card and none are merged together.

The current version of Three Card Poker was invented by poker player Derek Webb in the 1990s.

Three Card Poker is also called Tri-Card Poker as well as Tri Poker.  Why all the different names?

Well, it all started out as a name protected casino table game called Three Card Poker that became very popular. Then it seems that others wanted to offer the game without paying the royalties due so they just renamed it. . So whether it's called Three Card, Tri Card or just plain Tri Poker, the poker rules are the same, the optimal playing strategy for how to play is the same and a lot of players love it. You can play free Three Card Poker online for fun and real money games both online and in regular casinos everywhere.                                                                                                                                                             

Three Card Poker is Two Games in One

A seat at the Three Card Poker table offers two separate games to play. You are usually allowed to play either one or both games at the same time, but some casinos will require you to play both while others will make only one optionable.  The two games are "Three Card Ante/Play", where you compete against the dealer, and "Pair Plus" that has different bonus payouts for 3 card poker hands of one pair or better.  When both games are played at the same time, players may wager different amounts on each game. 

The games are played with a standard 52-card deck. The cards are distributed to the dealer in groups of three by an automatic shuffling machine. The player's table layout is shown below.

 

3 card poker player layout

 

Poker rules and payouts are printed on the table at each player spot, as shown below: (Note:) These are FULL PAYOUTS. Always look for these!


                                               
3 card poker table payouts layout

                                                                                                                       


3 Card Hand Values

The first thing you will probably notice from the hand rankings list above is that a straight has a higher ranking than a flush. That's simply because there are fewer ways to make a 3 card straight than a 3 card flush. As in most poker games, aces play both high and low to a straight. An ace high straight flush is the highest hand you can get but unfortunately, this is just the highest straight flush and not recognized as a mini-royal flush with extra bonus considerations or anything of that sort.                                                    

                                                                                                                                
The Pair Plus "Non-Strategy" and Unequal Bets Play                  

Since the only decision the player has to make in Pair Plus is how much to bet. There is no optimal playing strategy involved.  However, at full payout the low house advantage of less than 3 1/2% makes it about as attractive as any table poker game you can find. You can't bet five dollars and win a house here, but the payouts are very generous and you should get a pay hand of some sort about 25% of the time.   This is a good game but you want to remember that the win/loss swings are much more volatile in Pair Plus than in Ante/Play. Most places allow you to make unequal bets on the two games. A conservative bet would be two units on Ante/Play and one unit on Pair Plus, or equal bets. A more aggressive approach is to place more on Pair Plus than on Ante/Play. Many good players prefer to keep their Pair Plus to Ante/Play ratio on the conservative side and try to get a little ahead before they get aggressive and load up on the Pair Plus.

With the Power Poker Strategy we will use specific strategies for determining the size of each bet.  See the appropriate chapters for details.                                                                                                                                                                  

Three Card Poker, Tri Card Poker - Ante/Play Strategy
This game starts with the players placing bets in the "Ante" spots in the table layouts. The ante can be any amount within the posted table limits. The players and the dealer all get three cards, face down. The players all look at their hands and either fold by giving their cards back and losing their ante bet, or play by placing a bet equal to the ante, in the "play" spot in the layout. The dealer then turns over his cards. If he does not have Queen High or better, he doesn't "qualify" to play and pays the active players even money on their ante bets and those with a straight or better are paid the additional ante bonus shown above. These players get a "push" on their play bets.  If he does have a qualifying hand, those who cannot beat it lose their antes and their play bets, but can still win the ante bonus with a straight or higher. Those who can beat the dealer win even money on both their ante and play bets plus the ante bonus, if any.

In Three Card, Tri Card Poker Ante/Play, the only thing the expert player needs to know is how high his or her hand should be to produce the best possible long-term results, if played. The answer to that question is Q-6-4 or higher.                  

High card only hands between Q64 through KQ10 are loss limit plays. These are hands with negative expectations. They will lose less if played than they will in ante forfeiture losses if they are not played.  Ace high hands and better have positive expectations.  The house advantage for Ante/Play, against the optimal strategy shown below is a comfortable 3.4%.   Not too bad for the player.

  However, if you play the game like most players will, you will eventually be ground down by the house edge.  We are not going to do that!  As you will see, using the Power Poker Strategy will give us a significant edge over the game!

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