Our guide to the rules of 3-card poker aims to arm you with everything you need to know to master the basics, including how to play, the rank of hands, the best strategy and other top tips.
Note that 3-card poker is also referred to as 3-card draw. They are the same game.
The main thing to note is that 3-card poker is different from Texas Holdem in that you play against the dealer, rather than other players. In that sense, the rules of 3-card poker is more similar to how to play blackjack. It should not be confused with 3-card stud, which is also played against other players.
The aim of 3-card poker is to create a higher hand than the dealer’s – just like in blackjack.
Let’s start with overview of the rules of 3-card poker to help you learn to play in a few minutes:
Just like with all forms of poker, the strength of your final hand is everything.
A straight flush is three successive cards of the same suit, for example 4, 5 and 6 of diamonds.
A 3-card straight is three successive cards where not all three suits are the same. For example, 7 of diamonds, 8 of spades and 9 of hearts.
A flush is any three cards of the same suit. For example, 6, 1o and queen of spades.
Here’s all the 3-card poker hands ranked, from strongest to weakest with probability percentage calculations.
|3, 4, 5 of the same suit
|Three of a Kind
|Three cards of the same rank
|Three consecutive cards
|Three cards of the same suit
|Two cards of the same rank
|None of the above
To play 3-card poker free or with play money you will need an age-verified account with an online casino because of rules set by the UK Gambling Commission.
The best advice to learn the rules of 3-card poker is to play for free or start with low stakes while you familiarise yourself with the best strategy.
In 3-card poker you win by having a stronger hand than the dealer. The dealer usually needs a minimum-strength hand to play, so sometimes it’s possible to win with a relatively weak hand.
If you’ve played other forms of poker such as Texas Holdem, think of your hand as a mini poker hand where you can create hands such as a straight or straight flush from your three cards.
Poker sites such as PokerStars offer free play versions of games such as Texas Holdem.
There are a few payout options in 3-card draw:
Casinos usually pay a bonus for each type of bet if your hand is a certain strength.
Getting lucky and hitting Pair Plus and Six Card bonuses is how you can really win at 3-card poker.
The Ante Bonus applies if you have only placed an ante bet. The Pair Plus bonus applies if you’ve added a Pair Plus Bet. The 6-Card bonus is formed from your hand and the dealer’s hand, with five cards making up the hand to win the bonus.
These bonuses will differ depending on the 3-card poker rules you’re playing but typically, the bonuses look like this:
Ante Bonus Payout Example
Pair Plus Bonus Payout Example
Six-Card Bonus Payout Example
The optimal strategy for 3-card draw is fairly simple, thanks to the straightforward nature of the game.
The best strategy to win your ante wager is to play whenever you have queen-6-4 or better or when you have ace or king as one of your cards. You should also play when your hand includes queen and 7, no matter what your third card is.
In all other situations, mathematically speaking, you should fold.
|Three of a kind
|Q, 6, 4 or better
|Less than Q, 6, 4
|Q, 7, 3 or better
|Less than Q, 7, 3
|K, 2, 2 or better
|Less than K, 2, 2
|High card (no pair)
|Q, 6, 4 or better
|Less than Q, 6, 4
3-card draw is arguably the easiest form of poker to learn as it is simpler than other forms of the game such as Texas Holdem.
Hands include only three cards, meaning there are only six ranks of hands to memorise.
Betting is simple: Before cards are dealt your choice is whether to add Pair Plus to your ante bet. After your cards are dealt, your choice is to bet or fold.
Most online gambling sites have a casino and will almost certainly offer 3-card poker. If you’re a sports betting fan, you might need to download a separate app to play casino games on mobile, depending on who you have an account with.
If you’re creating a new account, remember to look around for the best casino welcome bonuses and always choose a company that’s regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.
Our current top 10 casinos providing a place to play 3-card draw online:
Many players prefer live dealer 3-card poker, particularly those with more experience. This is still online 3-card poker but the difference is there is a real person dealing the cards, rather than a random number generator.
The 3-card poker rules are exactly the same but some players prefer live dealer games as it provides a more authentic casino experience. One drawback is that live dealer games tend to be a little slower.
The best online casinos offer live 3-card poker. Our favourites include All British Casino, PlayOjo, Fafabet and 10Bet.