3 Card Poker – Part Two

Editors note, this is part two on covering how to play three card poker (part 1 at link).

3 Card Poker Bets – Ante Bets and Pair Plus Bets

bovada-three-card-poker-table-3-650
Once you learn how hands are ranked against each other, Three Card Poker becomes very simple to play. The good news is that if you’ve ever played traditional poker, you’re already familiar with the rankings.

Ante Bets

The ante bet is the bet where your hand is compared against the dealers hand to see who has the best three card poker hand.

To demonstrate, take a look at the following hands and see how quickly you can determine the winner:

Dealer’s Hand: A, Q, 8
Player’s Hand: Q, 10, 10

Dealer’s Hand: 6, 5, 4
Player’s Hand: Q, 10, 10

Dealer’s Hand: Q, J, 9
Player’s Hand: K, 6, 5

The winner for the three ante bets is the bolded hand. In the second hand the straight (654) beats the pair of 10’s.

One of the reasons online 3-Card Poker confuses people is because you’re allowed to play two different types of bets: the Ante and Pair Plus. You can play each one individually, or play both of them at the same time.

Pair Plus Bets

The pair plus bet pays out if you get a pair or better in your hand, period. The dealers hand is not wagered against yours, but you are just betting on hitting something with your hand.

Your decision will affect the odds of every hand.

We’re going to talk about Three Card Poker odds in more detail in a moment.

Online 3-Card Poker Odds And Probabilities

To fully appreciate the odds for Tri-Card Poker (as the game is sometimes called), it’s important to understand the probabilities behind making a paying hand. Below, you’ll find the hands you want to make, along with the number of possible combinations and the probability of making each one.

Hand, Combinations, % to make the hand
Straight flush: 48, 0.22%
Three of a kind: 52, 0.24%
Straight: 720, 3.26%
Flush: 1,096, 4.96%
Pair: 3,744, 16.94%

The probability of making a hand that doesn’t match any of the above paying hands – i.e. an Ace high or lower – is 74.39%. There are 16,440 ways to do that.

Incidentally, at Bovada Casino and Slots.lv, the dealer needs a Queen high or better to qualify. The probability of making that hand is 69.59%

Now, let’s talk about pay tables.

Online Three Card Poker Pay Tables And The House’s Edge

There are several different pay tables used by casinos for each bet (the Ante and Pair Plus). The tables have a huge effect on the house’s edge. Of course, you want to minimize that edge to give yourself the best possible chance of winning.

Following are common pay tables used for the Ante bet, along with each table’s corresponding house edge.

Table #1 Ante Bet (best for you)
————–
Straight flush: 5:1
Three of a kind: 4:1
Straight: 1:1
House edge: 3.37%

Table #2 Ante Bet
————–
Straight flush: 5:1
Three of a kind: 3:1
Straight: 1:1
House edge: 3.61%

Table #3 Ante Bet
————–
Straight flush: 4:1
Three of a kind: 3:1
Straight: 1:1
House edge: 3.83%

Table #4 Ante Bet (worst odds for you)
————–
Straight flush: 3:1
Three of a kind: 2:1
Straight: 1:1
House edge: 4.28%

It’s worth noting that Bovada Casino and Slots.lv both use Table #1 for the Ante bet (the best odds for you).

Let’s now take a look at pay tables for the Pair Plus bet. Following are common ones used, along with each table’s corresponding house edge.

Table #1 Pair Plus
————–
Straight flush: 40:1
Three of a kind: 30:1
Straight: 6:1
Flush: 4:1
Pair: 1:1
House edge: 2.32%

Table #2 Pair Plus
————–
Straight flush: 40:1
Three of a kind: 25:1
Straight: 6:1
Flush: 4:1
Pair: 1:1
House edge: 3.49%

Table #3 Pair Plus
————–
Straight flush: 35:1
Three of a kind: 25:1
Straight: 6:1
Flush: 4:1
Pair: 1:1
House edge: 4.58%

Table #4 Pair Plus
————–
Straight flush: 40:1
Three of a kind: 30:1
Straight: 5:1
Flush: 4:1
Pair: 1:1
House edge: 5.57%

Table #5 Pair Plus
————–
Straight flush: 40:1
Three of a kind: 30:1
Straight: 6:1
Flush: 3:1
Pair: 1:1
House edge: 7.28%

Again, Bovada Casino and Slots.lv both use Table #1 for the Pair Plus bet.

You obviously want to play at online casinos where the house’s edge is smallest. To that end, you’re unlikely to find pay tables more favorable than the ones used at Bovada and Slots.lv.

The Best Three-Card Poker Strategy

Remember this hand: Q, 6, 4

If you make that hand or any higher-ranking hand (e.g. K-6-4 or 2-2-8) when placing an Ante bet, always raise your bet. If you make a lower-ranking hand, always fold.

That rule of thumb maximizes your odds. Q-6-4 is the first hand of all possible card combinations in which the chances of losing by raising are less than the chances of losing by folding (which, of course, is 100%).

That’s for the Ante bet.

There’s no such strategy for the Pair Plus bet since you don’t have to decide whether to raise or fold. In fact, there’s no decision to make at all. Your three cards are immediately compared to the dealer’s three cards, and a winner is automatically chosen based on how the two hands rank.

Going back to the Ante, a lot of people raise their bets whenever they receive a Queen; they all but ignore the other two cards. That may seem like a simple and easy-to-remember strategy, but it’s a terrible idea over the long run. Remember, any hand ranked lower than Q-6-4 carries the same likelihood of losing as folding.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll always lose if you raise your bet on a Q-6-3 or lower-ranked hand. But if you happen to win, chalk it up to sheer luck.

How To Manage Your Bankroll While Playing 3-Card Poker

You’ve probably noticed that bankroll management is a common theme on this site. The way in which you manage your money can mean the difference between blowing through it and making it last. To that end, it’s important to set up rules that help you to decide the following:

– how much money to put at risk each day
– how much money to wager on each hand
– the number of hands to play each day

The rules you establish for yourself should reflect your comfort level playing Three Card Poker online. Once you learn how to play the game and find a comfortable rhythm, adjust them. If you’re just getting started, I recommend using the following guidelines (assuming a $500 bankroll):

– Maximum amount to risk each day: $50
– Amount to bet on each hand: $3 (including the raise)
– Maximum number of hands to play each day: 75

The above is just an example. The main point is that you come up with a set of rules that dictate your gambling activity. That way, you can make your bankroll last without being tempted to chase your losses.

Common Questions Asked About Three Card Poker Online

Three Card Poker prompts a lot of questions from folks who are new to the game. Below are a few of the most common questions asked, along with my thoughts.

“Should I stick to playing the Pair Plus bet, Ante bet or both?”

This question is usually asked because the house edge on the Ante bet (3.37%) is higher than the house edge on the Pair Plus bet (2.32%). Many people figure they should thus forego placing the Ante bet altogether.

In my opinion, if you’re going to choose between one or the other, play the Ante bet. Here’s the reason…

While the house edge on the Ante bet is higher, there’s actually less risk involved. Why? Because you have the option of raising your bet.

For example, suppose you bet the Ante. Before you even receive your cards, the house’s edge is 3.37% (assuming the casino uses Pay Table #1 from above). That’s the baseline assuming you’re using the “Q-6-4” strategy. But let’s say you receive a straight flush. Your chances of winning the hand have just increased significantly. And of course, you’re going to raise your bet.

That’s the key. Your ability to raise the bet lowers your overall risk of loss.

“Should I wager more on the Pair Plus bet than I do on the Ante bet?”

This question stems from the fact that the payout ratios are so much higher on the Pair Plus bet than on the Ante bet.

For example, Bovada pays 40:1 on a straight flush on the Pair Plus, but only 5:1 for the same hand on the Ante. That being the case, a lot of folks are tempted to double, triple or even quadruple their Pair Plus bets.

In my opinion, that’s a bad idea.

To be sure, if you make a straight flush or three-of-a-kind, you’ll enjoy a huge payout on the Pair Plus. But take another look at the probabilities of making those hands (see above). They’re tiny. Also, remember, while the house edge on the Pair Plus is lower than it is on the Ante, the risk of loss over the long run is actually higher since you don’t have the option of raising that bet.

“Where is the best place to play 3-Card Poker online?”

Let me recommend three gambling websites where you can play Three Card Poker online. I’ve vetted each of the following casinos to make certain they live up to their respective reputations.

1. Bovada Casino – Bovada is one of the most favored online casinos among gamblers. It offers easy banking options, a 100% match bonus up to $3,000 and a full list of the top slots and table games.

2. Slots.lv – Slots.lv specializes in slot games – it has more than 120 and counting! – but also offers all of the major casino games. Additionally, registered members can take advantage of seven weekly 100% matching bonuses with a combined value of $700.

3. BetOnline Casino – Live dealers make playing at BetOnline a unique experience. As a member, you’ll receive a 25% reload bonus on every deposit. You can also request a 10% rebate whenever you lose $100 or more in the casino.

Gambling online can be nerve-racking if you’re not familiar with the casino at which you’re placing bets. You’ve probably heard stories of online casinos not allowing players to withdraw their winnings or shutting down entirely.

So, WHERE you decide to play Three Card Poker is just as important as HOW you play it.

Above, I mentioned the following three online casinos:

1. Bovada Casino
2. Slots.lv
3. BetOnline Casino

Those are the three I stand by. I’ve spent a lot of time at each site, and can verify that all three are legitimate, reputable and a ton of fun. I’ve played at dozens of online casinos over the years, and these three are definitely the “Best In Class.”

I have no doubt there are other trustworthy gambling websites. But I have yet to come across any that trump Bovada, Slots.lv and BetOnline in all of the important categories (reputation, banking options, promotions, bonuses, etc.). For that reason, if you’re looking for a place to play 3-Card Poker online, I highly recommend visiting and registering an account at each of the three online casinos listed above.

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