Three Card Poker Strategy / Three Card Poker Bonuses

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Three Card Poker (or Tri-Card Poker) is a game that is very easy to play. It is also a game that is not on the restricted games list of many of the signup bonuses and other bonuses that you will find on the site.

In Three Card Poker, you are dealt three cards and the dealer is dealt three cards. You are looking to make the best poker hand out of the three cards. All rules of poker apply, except that a straight beats a flush (and a straight is more difficult to get then a flush).

There are 2 separate games offered when playing Three Card Poker. They are Ante/Play and Pair Plus.


In Ante/Play, you start by making a bet in the Ante spot on the table. After getting the three cards, you must decide if you want to play your poker hand by putting an equal size bet on the Play spot on the table. The other option is to fold the hand, losing the Ante bet in the process.

If you decide to play, you will be playing against the dealers hand. The dealer must have at least Queen high to continue play, which is also known as Qualifying. Whether the dealer qualifies or not will determine if the Play bet will be won or lost.

There are 4 different outcomes when you decided to bet on the Play hand:

1. If the dealer doesn't qualify, you will be paid your Ante bet and returned your Play bet.

2. If the dealer qualifies and you beat the dealer, you will be paid on both the Ante and the Play bets.

3. If the dealer qualifies and the dealer beats you, you will lose both bets.

4. If the dealer qualifies and you tie the dealer, you will be returned both bets.

There are also some Ante bonuses that you will receive if you are dealt a straight, three of a kind, or a straight flush that are not dependant of the dealer qualifying.

Three Card Poker Ante/Play Strategy

When I play Three Card Poker Ante/Play, my strategy is to bet on Play if my hand is QUEEN - 6 - 4 or better. What does this mean exactly? It is a poker game, so you need a better poker hand to win. Any Flush, any Straight, three of a kind, and pair is obviously better then Queen - 6 - 4. Also any Ace or King is better. So any of these hands we bet the Play.

Now the hands with Queens in them we only play if our second highest card is a 6 or higher. If it happens to be a 6, then we only play if the third highest card is a 4 or higher.

Examples -

Queen - Jack - 2 - PLAY, since the Jack is higher then the 6

Queen - 5 - 4 - FOLD, since the 5 is lower then the 6

Queen - 6 - 5 - PLAY since the 5 is greater then the 4

Queen- 6 - 2 - FOLD since the 2 is lower then the 4

Jack - 10 - 8 - FOLD since we cannot beat a Queen

King - 2 - 3 - PLAY since the King is higher then the Queen


PairPlus is a simple bonus game that really has no strategy. You bet on the PairPlus circle, and you are looking for a Pair or better to be paid on your wager. It does not matter if the dealer qualifies or not, nor does it matter what hand that they get. On the table you will see odds that you are given if you get a pair or better. It will look something like this:

Straight flush 40 to 1
Three of a kind 30 to 1
Straight 6 to 1
Flush 4 to 1
Pair 1 to 1

For a look at similar payoff tables and the house edge associated with them, check out this link at The Wizard of Odds.

Ante/Play or PairPlus - which one to play?

Ante/Play and PairPlus both have their pros and cons. Generally speaking, PairPlus has a lower House Advantage then Ante/Play. This is dependant of the paytable used at the casino. A majority of the casinos using the paytable above have a house advantage of 2.32% for PairPlus versus a house advantage of Ante/Play at 3.37%.

There is another factor, Element of Risk, that can help against the House Advantage for Ante/Play. When playing Ante/Play, you are folding 1 bet when your cards are bad and increasing your bets to two bets when your cards are good. In PairPlus, you are betting a set amount every hand, and cannot change that amount when you are dealt cards. Being able to get paid on your Play hands and fold just the Ante gives a Element of Risk of 2.01% compared to the 2.32% house advantage of PairPlus.

I have personally tried both methods, and find that I like the Ante/Play over the PairPlus. I will say that my larger wins playing the game were when I was playing Pair/Plus and hit a 3 of a Kind or a Straight Flush. Other people seem to like PairPlus because it is a much faster game to play as no decisions need to be made.

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