Real Money Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker, also called “Tri Card Poker,” is a gambling game that is loosely based on poker. In this game, the goal is to end up with a better three card poker hand than the dealer. If you accomplish that goal, you receive a payout based on the strength of your hand.

There are two different wagers you can place in this game. The primary wager is called the ante-and-play bet. In this one, you must end up with a higher hand than the dealer. The secondary wager is called the pair plus bet and that one pays you regardless of what the dealer has. You must simply end up with a pair or better to qualify for a payout.

One of the nice things about 3 Card Poker is that it’s not particularly competitive. In one of the bets, you don’t even compete against the dealer. All you have to do is decide whether or not to stay in the hand. There are not deep layers of strategy in this game like there are in traditional forms of player-vs-player poker.

Where to Play 3 Card Poker Online for Money

Here are the best casinos for 3-card poker for Americans.

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The rules of 3 Card Poker are fairly simple. At the beginning of each hand, you can place either the “pairs plus” bet, “ante-and-play” wager or both. The payout schedule for each bet is a little different, but the general rules of the game remain the same no matter which bets you choose.


This is considered the main bet in Tri Card Poker. In this bet, you compete against the dealer for the best hand. At the beginning of the hand, you pay an ante and then you and dealer are each dealt three cards.

After you look at your cards, you may choose to fold and surrender your ante or continue to play by placing another bet equal in size to the ante. If you choose to play on, the dealer will then reveal his cards.

Before anything else happens, the dealer must check to see if his hand “qualifies” by containing a Queen high or better. If the dealer does not qualify, you are paid 1 to 1 on the ante and the second bet is returned without any winnings.

When the dealer does qualify, his hand is compared to your hand. If your hand is higher, you are paid even money on both bets. In addition to that, there are special payouts for the following hands:

Straight Flush5 to 1
Three of a Kind4 to 1
Straight1 to 1

If the dealer’s hand is better than yours, you lose both the original wager and the raise wager.

In the end, there are three possible outcomes for each hand in which the player does not fold:

  • The dealer does not qualify. The player wins even money on the ante bet and the second bet is considered a push.
  • The dealer qualifies and beats the player. The player loses both bets.
  • The dealer qualifies and loses to the player. The player wins even money on both bets and qualifies for an additional payout if the player’s final hand is a straight, three of a kind or straight flush.

Pairs Plus

The Pair Plus is a sort of side bet in which you are paid bonuses for achieving hands of one pair or better. You do not have to beat the dealer to win money in the Pair Plus bet. The bet only requires you to make it through the hand without folding.

The payout table can vary from one casino to the next but a common one looks like this:

Straight Flush40 to 1
Three of a Kind30 to 1
Straight6 to 1
Flush4 to 1
Pair1 to 1

Play for Free

You can try Three Card Poker for free below. This is an embedded game that I was able to snag from Lucky Red Casino. If you can’t see anything below or it says “unable to communicate with server” try turning off any ad blocker extensions and enabling flash in your browser.

I’ve found that most casinos require you to sign up for an account before even letting you try the games. This is annoying because it’s a waste of time if you just want to see what a certain game is like. I have sized the resolution down to fit on this page so it doesn’t look as good here as it does at the actual casino website, but it should give you a good idea of what it’s like to play.


Strategy and Tips

The perfect strategy for Three Card Poker is very easy to remember. That’s one of the things I like about this game. Unlike some other casino games, very little memorization is necessary to play with a perfect strategy.

Ante-and-Play Strategy

Let’s address the ante-and-play bet first. This is the only bet out of the two possible bets in which any strategy can be applied because it’s the only wager in which you make any decisions after placing the bet (choosing to stay in or fold). Since you only make one decision, there are no charts or calculations to memorize.

All you need to know is this:

  • Always play Q-6-4 or higher; fold everything else

That’s all there is to it! If you can remember that much, you’ll be playing perfect Three Card Poker. The house advantage with this strategy is about 3.37%, which is pretty decent for a casino table game.

If you’re wondering what exactly I mean by Q-6-4 or higher, you’re not the only one. For example, what happens when you get A-3-2? For the purposes of this strategy, we always start with the highest card and work our way down.

In the case of A-3-2, you would play the hand because the highest card is higher than a queen. Nothing else needs to be done. If you have a hand like Q-7-2, you can still play. In this case, the Queens tie so we look at the next card down. The 7 is higher than a 6 so you can play this hand as well.

This Three Card Poker strategy may seem too simple but that’s really all there is to it. There are many resources (both live and online) that agree this is the best strategy for 3 Card Poker. The math has been checked and rechecked, and the numbers work out.

Pairs Plus Strategy

In Three Card Poker, there is no real strategy for the pair plus bet. The only thing you have to do is decide whether or not to play it. The house advantage of this bet depends on the pay table, but it is generally somewhere between 3% and 4%. It’s not a great bet, but it won’t send you home broke either.

If you want to play the pair plus bet, go for it. This bet offers some pretty decent payouts and the house advantage isn’t terrible. Three Card Poker is a gambling game after all so there’s no harm in placing this bet. If you have a limited bankroll and want to maximize your time at the table, feel free to skip this bet.

Deposit Bonuses

Because 3 Card Poker has a low house advantage when played strategically, not all gambling sites allow you to clear deposit bonuses by playing this game. For example, the welcome bonus at Casino Titan states in the terms and conditions that all wagers on Tri Card Poker do not count towards meeting the rollover.

Make sure to check the terms and conditions of any deposit bonus before you play at that gambling site. Some casinos are fine with 3 Card Poker, others are not. If this is your main game, there’s no point in getting a big signup bonus that isn’t even compatible with 3 Card Poker.

Note 1: All of the gambling sites recommended at the top of this page have bonuses that are compatible with 3 Card Poker. I checked the terms and conditions of each casino’s bonus before recommending it here.

Note 2: Golden Cherry Casino has two different new player bonuses. One is a $3,000 bonus for slots while the other is an $888 bonus for all other games. Make sure you choose the $888 bonus when you sign up. The bonus code for that one is CHERRY1.

Other Tips

The strategy above is really all you need to know about Three Card Poker specifically. The following tips work for this game as well, but they could be applied to any real money gambling game.

  • Practice bankroll management – If you want to have a long night of gambling, size your bets so that they are small compared to your total bankroll. Three Card Poker is a swingy game and it helps to have a deep bankroll.
  • Take advantage of VIP programs – Live casinos and online casinos both have VIP programs that reward you for regular play. Make sure you sign up and get rewarded for playing Three Card Poker.
  • Set a loss limit – Nobody wins every single time at the casino so it’s important to set a loss limit and stick with it. If you have a bad night at the table and hit your loss limit, it’s time to call it quits this time. There’s always another day but there’s not always another dollar.
  • Avoid betting systems – Betting systems are just as useless for Three Card Poker as they are for every other casino game. The only thing a betting system does is manipulate the size of your bets and potentially cause you to wager more than you intended. People who sell betting systems rely on desperation to con people into paying money for a useless product.

A Little about the Game

3 Card Poker is a relatively new casino game that was invented by Derek Webb in 1994. Shuffle Master then bought the rights to the game in 1999 and used its existing contacts in the casino industry to spread the game across the world. It proved to be a hit in casinos and has been with us ever since.

You may also see some casinos refer to it as “Tri Card Poker.” This is the same exact game other than the name. The reason some casinos call it “Tri Card Poker” is because of copyright issues. Casinos have to have permission to host Three Card Poker so some casinos just spread the same game and call it Tri Card Poker.

Whatever you want to call it, Three Card Poker has expanded rapidly over the years and is currently one of the top performing card games at all casinos. Its simple rules and fast pace make it fun for players and easy for casinos to host. As a result, you’ll find plenty of Three Card Poker action at most casinos.

A lot of players enjoy Three Card Poker because it basically consists of two games in one. The main bet offers payouts that range from even money to 5-1 and the side bet offers payouts of up to 40-1. And because each hand only consists of three cards, it’s easy to catch strong hands and receive payouts. It’s no wonder that Three Card Poker has caught on so well.

The strategy for Three Card Poker is fairly simple and it can reduce the house advantage significantly. The short of it is that if you raise with Q-6-4 or better and fold everything else, you will be playing optimally. You can find more details in my Three Card Poker strategy article.

The house advantage of Three Card Poker depends on how well the players play the game. With optimal strategy, Three Card Poker shows a house advantage of about 3.37%. This can also vary based on the payouts offered by each casino. Compared to most casino games, this house advantage is not bad. There are a few better games (such as blackjack) but Three Card Poker is one of the best for your money considering how simple the game is.

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