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How to Play 3 Card Poker in Vegas: The Expert’s Guide

Author Shruti

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Shruti J.

date post

Dec 21, 2021

how to play 3 card poker in Vegas


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If you enjoy card games but don’t know how to play 3 card poker in Las Vegas casinos, you are missing out big time! If you currently play blackjack and are interested in poker, learning 3 card poker will be a piece of cake for you. This is due to the fact that the game is a combination of Blackjack and the commonly played Texas Hold’em Poker.

3 card poker is one of the most famous poker table games in Las Vegas casinos, ranking second in popularity. In the first place, we have Pai Gow Poker, but we are going to be learning about this game in another guide. For now, let us focus on the 3 card poker table game.

So, 3 card poker is a type of poker that originates from the United States of America. The gaming commissions first released the trial for 3 card poker at Vegas casinos in the late 1999s. It was supposed to be just a trial to see whether this game would work or not. The decision to officially release the game in the casinos was still pending at the time. Was the trial successful? Well, you can now see with your own eyes how popular the game has become in Vegas.

3 Card Poker in Vegas

We talked about how popular 3 card poker is in Las Vegas. Now, you will know the reason for its massive popularity. Not only is the game easy to learn and master, but the winning odds are also high. Unlike the common poker table games where you play against a table of pros in cloaks, here you have to compete with the dealer. Moreover, while poker games like Texas Hold’em depend entirely on skills, in 3 card poker luck plays a vital role.

Learning 3 card poker is very easy. However, one thing to remember is that there are many variations of 3 card poker. Also, many casinos add more upgrades and modifications to the game whenever they like. That is why you might find the rules of 3 cards poker different in different casinos.

Learn to Play 3 Card Poker in Vegas

how to play 3 card poker in Vegas

Learn how to play 3 card poker in Las Vegas casinosIn Vegas, 3 card poker is a commonly played casino table game and if you live there, you just need to know how to play it. It is not difficult and will take as long as 15 minutes to learn the game fully. Yes, 10 to 15 minutes. I am not going to exaggerate and say it is going to take 5 minutes like other online articles you see on the web. Because even though it is an easy game to learn, it takes time to understand and memorize how the game works. You will probably need to practice playing the game one or two times just to know how to play 3 card poker in Vegas. Note that I am talking about learning the basics here. Mastering the game and learning the strategies will obviously take a lot more time than this.

In 3 card poker, 5 to 7 players play against the dealer. The person on the table with the strongest hand in the final round will win the game. To know whether or not your hand is strong you must learn about the hand rankings. Worry not as we have included this in our guide below. The winner receives the reward according to the bets placed on the table by the players and himself. Each of the participants, as well as the dealer, is dealt three cards.

When all of the players have placed their wagers or folded their cards, their hands are compared to the dealers. Whoever has the strongest hand wins the game. The strength of the hands is determined by poker hands ranking. Again, different casinos have different rules. Therefore, the hand rankings may differ from one casino to another.

The 3 Card Poker has a total of 6 card possibilities, with the Straight Flush having the greatest weight and the High Card having the least. The dealer’s cards must be a queen or higher in order for them to play. We will explain the hand rankings in further detail below. Let us first understand the rules and basics properly.

Types of Bets in 3 Card Poker

how to play 3 card poker in Vegas

All types of bets in 3 card poker

Types of bets are an important part of the basics that you must know before you try to understand the rules. I am sure that many of you reading are new to the game and whatever I say in the guide next will just go over your heads. Therefore, take some time to learn how the bets work in three-card poker. However, if you are already aware of the bets, you can scroll down to the next section. Alright, time to jump right into it.

The Ante Bet

So. first in line, we have the Ante bet. Ante is the name given to the initial bet placed by the players against the dealer. This bet takes place before the real game starts. The player who wins by getting a stronger final hand than the dealer’s hand will get a 1:1 payout for ante bet. It is a type of forced bet that requires every player on the table to bet the same specific amount of money. Normally, every poker tournament requires the player to put an ante bet in the pot at the start of the contest.

Most players lean towards beginning the game with the ante bet due to how low the house edge is on it. The house edge is 3.37 percent when you start a game with an ante bet. Once the play bet gets into account, there is a 2.01 percent house edge on total activity. The ante bet is an overall good bet to place. If you ask me whether I like to start with an ante bet or pair plus bet, my answer will always be the former. Personally, I like to play on the safer side and avoid any risks whatsoever. However, you are free to place bets in any way you like. Follow your instincts and you will be good to go.

Many casinos give out bonuses on the Ante bet. The player will receive the Ante Bonus on a Straight or better hand. On a Straight hand, the payout is 1:1, on a Three of a Kind it is 4:1, and 5:1 on a Straight Flush. It does not matter if the dealer has a stronger hand than yours in the final round. If you have these hands you are going to receive the Ante bonus.

Pair Plus

Pair plus is also one of the two bets that one must choose to make to begin playing 3 card poker in Vegas. A pair plus bet is not the same as an ante bet. To win a pair plus bet, you must have particular hands. If you are unable to obtain certain hands, you will lose the wager. A pair plus bet is riskier than an ante bet and has a house edge of 7.28%. Similar to how an Ante Bonus works, having the strongest hand does not matter in a Pair Plus bet. All you need to have are the right hands to win the bet.

The lowest ranking hand on which you can get a payout on a pair plus bet is a pair. You will get a 1:1 payout if you have a pair. Going up, we have the flush, on which the payout is 3:1. Next, we have is straight, which pays out in the ratio of 6:1 on a pair plus bet. Then, the second-highest-ranking hand on which you can get a payout is three of a kind. If you have this hand, you will be getting a 30:1 payout, which is great. A straight flush is your finest and strongest hand for a pair-plus bet. This hand has a 40:1 payout. So, if you put $10 in the pot for a pair plus and acquire this hand, you’ll walk away with $400.

The Play Bet

If a player puts an ante bet and is confident in their hand, they must place a wager on the Play bet equal to their ante bet. For example, if the minimum bet at a table is set to $5, and you placed $5 on the ante bet, then your actual minimum bet per hand is $10. On the other hand, if a player does not put a bet on the Play spot because they do not like their hand, they will lose the ante bet. The Play bet puts players against the dealer. The person with the best poker hand wins the game.

3 Card Poker Game Rules

how to play 3 card poker in Vegas 3 card poker rules are simple.

Learning how to play 3 cards poker in Vegas is not going to a lot of effort for many reasons. First of all, the game rules are very simple and easy to pick up. Secondly, because of its massive popularity in Vegas, you can clear any of your doubts by asking anyone you know who goes to the casino often and he will help you get a better understanding of the game. You can easily find many buddies to play with you especially in real-time casinos.

Enough with the reasons, now let’s finally learn the rules. One thing to keep in mind is that the rules differ slightly for every casino. For example, some casinos will let players play one hand at a time while others let the players play multiple hands at once. Therefore, ask the dealer about the house rules before you begin.

Place the Ante Bet, Pair Plus Bet, or Both to Start Playing

Okay fellas, let’s start with the first rule. Now, the first you will need to know while learning how to play 3 card poker in Vegas is when should you place a bet. The game starts only when all the players place their bets on the table. The foremost thing to do, before the dealer even distributes the cards, is to place an ante or pair plus bet. Placing both of the bets can also begin the game. It depends on what the casino you play in prefers.

Some casinos might even have “placing only ante bet in the start” as a rule. However, you can not proceed in the game without placing any bet on the table. I mean what would you even be gambling for then? Nothing, yup. That is why we need to place this bet on the table. Making an initial wager is a general rule for every table poker game out there.

Dealer Deals the Cards

After every player places their initial bets on the table, the dealer deals three cards face-down to each of them including himself. In some casinos, the dealer starts distributing the cards from the right side. In other casinos, the dealer might start giving the cards from the left side. Make sure you know your house rules. You must keep your cards hidden and do not show them to anyone. No one should know what your cards are, not even the players.

The dealer spreads the cards far enough apart so that the players can see the cards clearly. Once, all players receive their first set of cards, they can not change or take back their bets. Unlike the players’ three cards, the dealer’s cards stay in the cards deck until players decide what they want to do next.

Place a Play Bet or Fold

After the dealer gives all the players on the table three cards, he waits for them to decide what action to take for the next round. The players check their cards and decide whether or not they wish to continue playing or fold the game. If a player wants to keep playing the game, he or she must deposit a stake in the pot. On the other hand, if for some reason they want to lose, they must fold their hands.

Unlike 5 card poker where players have 3 options, the players have 2 options in 3 card poker in Vegas. The two options are to either place a play bet or fold their hands. Folding means discarding a hand. In very simple words, you will be giving up on the game. The players who fold will not need to place further bets in the game while it goes on. However, if a player folds, he or she will lose their ante or/and pair plus wagers.

When a player is confident about the three cards he receives, he will most likely want to continue playing. To keep playing the game, the player must place a play bet. We discussed play bet in the “Types of Bets in 3 Card Poker” section above. If you have not already read it before, please scroll and read so that you can have a better understanding of what bets players can make in the game. For now, let us provide you with the simplest explanation of a play bet. A player must place a bet equal to the ante bet to proceed in a game. This is the wager that we call the play bet.

Determining the Winner

Once all players have made their decision, the dealer will finally place his first and last three cards facedown in front of him. The dealers will then expose the cards one by one, ranking them from the highest to the lowest. This is the time that players can tip the dealers by placing the check at the right of the betting area.

I suppose we all already know that to win in poker we got to have a stronger hand than our opponent’s hand. However, when you play 3 card poker in Vegas, the rules are a little bit different and much easier than regular 5 card poker. The hands are only compared when the dealer plays the game, and the dealer can only choose to play the game if he qualifies for it.

The outcome of a player’s future winnings depends on whether the dealer qualifies or not. To qualify, the dealer needs at least one Queen. If the dealer’s highest card is a Jack or lower, he does not qualify and their hand does not play. When this happens, the players’ play wagers are considered a push, and no action is taken on that bet. After the play wagers get pushed, everyone’s Ante will get paid 1:1 or even money.

If a dealer succeeds in getting a queen, he will qualify and his hand will now be in play. Now, the player must have a better poker hand ranking than the dealer. If the dealer qualifies and the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand, then both the play and ante wager will get paid 1:1 or even money. On the other hand, if the dealer qualifies but the player’s hand loses against the dealer’s, then the player will lose his ante and play wagers.

Lastly, if the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand are exactly the same when the dealer qualifies, then this is considered a tie, and the ante and the play wager will push. This means that no bets are won or lost, and the player gets to keep their money.

Note: Remember that the Pair Plus bet works independently hence it does not matter whether the dealer qualifies or not. If a player has a pair or higher, he will win the pair plus bet.

Three Cards Poker Possible Hands and Rankings in Vegas

how to play 3 card poker in Vegas 3 cards poker hand rankings are different from 5 card poker.

If you are familiar with the regular 5 card poker, you probably know about the poker hands that a player can form and their rankings. However, the rankings in 3 card poker are a lot different than the rankings of 5 card Poker. For example, in 5 cards Texas Hold’em Poker, Flush wins against a Straight but in 3 cards poker Straights has a higher rank than Flush. Below are the best poker hands ranking from the top to bottom. Remember that in poker all suits are ranked equally.

  1. Straight Flush: 5 cards in sequence belonging to the same suit.
  2. Three of a Kind: Any three cards of the same rank.
  3. Straight: Any three consecutive cards regardless of what their suit is. Aces can count as either a high card or a low card.
  4. Flush: It consists of three cards of the same suit but not consecutive. If these cards are in sequence, then it will not be a Flush but a Straight Flush. The highest card of the three cards determines the rank of the flush.
  5. Pair: A pair is basically just two cards of the same number or rank. The suit does not matter in a pair.
  6. High Card: Any hand that does not fit the criteria mentioned above is a high card. A hand with, for example, an Ace as the highest card is an Ace-high. This is the best possible high card hand possible.


Learning how to play 3 card poker in Vegas is one of the smartest things to do as a casino card games lover. Not only is the game easy to play, but the odds of winning are also very high. This guide includes everything you need to know to start playing the game on a live poker table in Vegas. The rules online are also the same as the physical casinos. However, one thing that may differ from casino to casino is the house rules. Make sure you know the house rules before you start playing. Since there are 5 to 7 people on a table, you would not want to make fun of yourself by not knowing the rules properly. Hopefully, this guide was any help for you. Good luck!

An Ace is normally the highest-ranking card in 3 card poker in Vegas. However, there are certain situations where it can be used as a low-ranking card. For example, a straight consisting of Ace, King, and Queen is the strongest straight hand. On the other hand, a Straight with 3, 2, and Ace is the weakest Straight possible. In High Cards, an Ace-High will always be the strongest High Card.

Yes, unlike Texas Hold’em hand rankings, a Straight does beat a Flush in 3 card poker. The hand rankings are as follows:

  1. Straight Flush
  2. Three of a Kind
  3. Straight
  4. Flush
  5. Pair
  6. High Card

The minimum bet in 3 Card Poker at Las Vegas casinos ranges from $2 to $15. The house rules are different for every casino. Hence, you might want to ask the dealer about the rules before you start placing bets on the table. However, remember that the actual minimum bet you need to make is always double the min. ante bet set by the casino. This is because to continue playing the game, you will need to place the play bet, which must be the same as the ante bet.

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