Three Card Poker is one of the most popular games in casinos today, and the most successful of the newer proprietary games that have been invented in the past few decades. The game plays relatively quickly and has the potential for huge payouts without requiring a detailed strategy to memorize, making it a fun game for everyone from casual gamblers to serious casino veterans.
In Three Card Poker, players are dealt three cards, out of which they make the best possible poker hand. Most Three Card Poker strategy revolves around one decision the player must make: whether to fold their hand, or make the Play (sometimes called a raise) bet. Luckily, the proper Three Card Poker strategy is very simple to learn and implement when playing.
The optimal Three Card Poker strategy is to play when you have a pair or better, or an unpaired hand of Q/6/4 or better. You should fold all other hands. This results in a house edge of 3.37%, assuming you are playing at a casino using the full pay table (which can be found below). If even this is difficult to remember, or you need to teach a friend a Three Card Poker strategy at the table and want to make things as easy as possible, simply doing the same thing the dealer does – playing with any queen-high hand or better – only increases the house edge to 3.45%, and is a perfectly reasonably strategy to use.
As with many table games, one of the most important things you can do to increase your odds of winning is to find a casino that offers the best pay table. In the case of Three Card Poker, that means finding the best possible ante bonus. Most casinos use the following pay table, which is considered the “full pay” table:
Straight Flush: 5-1
Three of a Kind: 4-1
Other pay tables are sometimes available, but these carry a higher house edge.
Three Card Poker Pairplus Strategy
Unlike many casino games, Three Card Poker has a side bet that might be even more popular among players than the main game! This side bet is known as Pairplus, and you will routinely see players make it a part of their Three Card Poker strategy.
The appeal of Pairplus is obvious: you can win as much as 40-1 if you’re dealt the right hand. And there’s no strategy to deal with; the game is completely determined by the hand you’re dealt, so the player doesn’t have to make any decisions.
Unfortunately, the Pairplus bet usually carries a much higher house edge than the Ante bet. The most common Pairplus pay table has a 5.57% advantage for the casino, meaning that it shouldn’t be a regular part of your Three Card Poker strategy. However, there are pay tables with much lower edges – some that are as good or better than even the Ante bet. The following pay table is an example:
Straight Flush: 40-1
Three of a Kind: 30-1
If you can find these payouts, the Pairplus bet only carries a 2.32% house edge, making it a relatively good bet for the player.