3 CARD POKER is a variation of poker where the players compete against the dealer.

3 card poker begins with an ante wager. Additionally, a player may make a “pair plus bet” which pays out if the player makes a hand greater than a pair. These bets must be placed before the hands start.

Once all bets are in, each player and the dealer are dealt three down cards. The player looks at his or her cards before the dealer checks theirs. Play begins to the dealer’s left. Each player may “fold,” thus forfeiting any ante and pair plus bets he/she has or they may “play.” To play, one must place a bet equal to the ante in the play bet area.

If the player does play then he goes against the dealer's hand. The dealer needs at least a queen high to qualify. Below are the possible outcomes and their payoff:

Dealer does not qualify: Ante wins 1 to 1, play bet is returned
Dealer qualifies and player beats dealer: Both play and ante win 1 to 1
Dealer qualifies and dealer beats player: Both Play and ante lose
Dealer qualifies and dealer ties player: Both Play and ante push

If the player has a pair or better, he/she is paid out accordingly on the pair plus, REGARDLESS of the hand of the dealer. In order to get paid on both the ante and the play, the player must beat the dealer’s hand and the dealer must qualify.

Here are the hand rankings and corresponding payouts for three card poker. It should be noted that these payouts may vary from casino to casino, but this is meant to give you a general understanding of the game and it‘s payout:

Hand Pair Plus Payout Ante Bonus
Straight Flush 40:1 5:1
3 of a kind 30:1 4:1
Straight 6:1 1:1
Flush 4:1 none
Pair 1:1 none

Optimal strategy in ante and play is to play if you have a hand stronger than Queen, six, four. The house “plays” with anything better than a queen. Queen six four is the first hand that has a long-term positive expected value, taking into the consideration sometimes the dealer will fold when his/her hand does not qualify.

Pair plus payouts occur regardless of qualification by the dealer, however “ante“ and “play” only pay out when the dealer has qualified by having a hand stronger than queen-x-x.

Quick tips:

1. You want to at least have your pair plus bet equal to your play bet. Never do you want pair plus to be less than the play bet.

2. Aggressive strategies may be profitable if you increase the pair plus bet to more than the play bet, however, this greatly increases variance, thus making your returns a bit less than predictable.

3. Do not deviate from Q-6-4 and up strategy. Never fold anything that pair plus pays out.

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