A lot of casino fans are trying out 3 card poker, and discovering that this version of the classic card game is quick and exciting. Each hand pits the player’s three cards against the dealer’s three in a straight-up contest to see which is the better poker hand; there are no draws and no bluffing. In fact, the player’s only decision after betting the ante and being dealt three cards is whether to play, by doubling the bet, or fold, thereby losing only the ante if the dealer’s hand wins. The catch is that only the player’s cards are dealt face-up, so players have to decide whether to play or fold knowing nothing about the dealer’s hand.

The other variable that influences betting 3 card poker strategies is whether or not the dealer qualifies: if the dealer’s hand is not Queen-high at least, the dealer “does not qualify”; the player then wins even money on the ante, and the play bet is pushed.

In other words, there are two main risks: a player who folds and then sees the dealer not qualify loses the ante, but a player who plays on a low hand and then sees the dealer qualify and beat it, loses both the play bet and the ante. But players have two ways to win by placing the second bet: if the dealer doesn’t qualify, they get double their ante back, and if the dealer qualifies and loses, players win even money on both ante and play bets.

Bonus Bets Make Big Wins Bigger

Making 3 card poker a little more complicated, but also more rewarding, are the side bets. All 3 card poker tables will offer a “pluspair” bet or equivalent, usually for the same stake as the ante. If the player hand doesn’t qualify or loses to the dealer, this bet is forfeit. However, if the player qualifies and wins (or the dealer doesn’t qualify) with a pair or better, the pluspair bet pays out multiples of the stake, depending on the strength of the winning hand. These are ranked according to normal poker rules, so straight flushes will win more than three of a kind, for example. Most casinos also offer other side bets, so experienced players have options to increase their winnings when the luck of the cards is running with them.

Of course, betting on the side bets at every hand changes the stakes, as well as the return on the odds a player can expect, but the payouts on strong hands make them worthwhile; which is why understanding the house edge on each individual bet is important to a successful betting strategy. Learning how to bet efficiently in this fast-moving game takes practice but it will pay off.

Play 3 Card Poker Free Online

The good news, for those who want to learn the intricacies of 3 card poker, is that it needn’t cost you anything. There are hundreds of free online casinos that offer 3 card poker options for credits only, and if you’re purely interested in playing for the fun of wrestling with the odds, you have endless options. If you’ve had a lot of practice and you’ve honed your betting strategy and you’d like to gamble for real, of course, there are just as many real-money casinos that let you play for actual money stakes. Even these casinos offer regular free play bonuses to keep players interested, so it’s possible to get plenty of fast-paced fun out of 3 card poker online without always risking your own bankroll.