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Home » online casinos » poker sites » 3 card poker rules
James McMath
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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.

How To Win At 3-Card Draw

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:

1. Place Your Bet

To start the game, you need to place your bet. Effectively you are betting that your hand will be stronger than the dealer’s

You place an “Ante” bet, which is the minimum you can play with. You can also place a separate “Pair Plus” bet, which pays out if your hand includes a pair or better.

2. The Cards Are Dealt

You and any other players at the table will be dealt 3 cards and the dealer will deal 3 cards for themself, face-down.

3. Play or Fold

Judge the strength of your hand and decide whether to play or fold. If you decide to play, you will bet again, the same amount as your ante bet.

If you fold, you will lose your ante bet and Pair Plus stake if you have made one. The hand is then over for you.

If you bet, the dealer then reveals their cards.

4. Hands Revealed

After all players have either folded or bet, the dealer’s cards are then revealed. Usually, the dealer needs a minimum-strength hand (usually a jack or a queen) to play.

The dealer’s hand is then compared to the players’ hands to determine whether the bets are won.

3-Card Draw Hands Ranked

Just like with all forms of poker, the strength of your final hand is everything.

Example of a straight flush in 3-card draw

A straight flush is three successive cards of the same suit, for example 4, 5 and 6 of diamonds.

A straight flush in 3-card draw

Example of a straight in 3-card draw

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 straight in 3-card draw

Example of a flush in 3-card draw

A flush is any three cards of the same suit. For example, 6, 1o and queen of spades.

A flush in 3-card draw

3-card poker hands rankings table

Here’s all the 3-card poker hands ranked, from strongest to weakest with probability percentage calculations.

Hand Rank Hand Description Example Probability (%)
1 Straight Flush 3, 4, 5 of the same suit 0.22
2 Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank 0.24
3 Straight Three consecutive cards 3.24
4 Flush Three cards of the same suit 4.96
5 Pair Two cards of the same rank 16.94
6 High Card None of the above 0.7432

Where Can You Play 3-Card Poker For Free?

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.

3-Card Poker: How To Win

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:

  • You win your Ante bet: Your return is double your stake
  • You win your Pair Plus bet: Your return includes your ante bet win and your pair plus win
  • You win your Six Card Bonus Bet: Using your hand and the dealer’s hand, you make a strong 5-card hand such as a straight flush

Ante Bonus and Pair Plus Bonus

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.

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James McMath

Quick tip from our editor: Any losing bet will cost you

“Remember that your stake on any bonus that doesn’t win will cost you. So if your ante bet and Pair Plus bet win and your 6-card bonus doesn’t win, your 6-card bonus stake will be deducted from your winnings.”

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

  • Straight flush – 5/1
  • Three of a kind – 4/1
  • Straight 1/1

Pair Plus Bonus Payout Example

  • Straight flush – 40/1
  • Three of a kind – 30/1
  • Straight – 5/1

Six-Card Bonus Payout Example

  • Royal Flush – 1000/1
  • Straight Flush – 200/1
  • Four of a kind – 50/1
  • Full house – 25/1
  • Flush – 20/1
  • Straight 10/1
  • Three of a kind – 5/1
Ace-high in 3-card poker

3-Card Poker Strategy To Maximise Return To Player

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.

3-Card Poker Strategy Table

Player Hand Play (Raise) Fold
Straight flush Always Never
Three of a kind Always Never
Straight Q, 6, 4 or better Less than Q, 6, 4
Flush Q, 7, 3 or better Less than Q, 7, 3
Pair K, 2, 2 or better Less than K, 2, 2
High card (no pair) Q, 6, 4 or better Less than Q, 6, 4

A Simple And Fun Form Of Poker

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.

Variations On The Rules Of 3-Card Poker

3-Card Draw vs 3-Card Stud

3-card stud differs from 3-card draw as stud is played against other players, rather than against the dealer. In that way, the strategy is much more similar to Texas Holdem, though the hand structure and rankings are the same as 3-card draw.

3-Card Draw vs 5-Card Draw

5-card draw is more closely related to Texas Holdem as it involves playing against other players for a pot, rather than the dealer. Find out more in our guide to 5-card poker.

3-Card Draw vs Texas Holdem

In the rules of Texas Holdem players play against each other, rather than against the dealer. Players are dealt two cards, with five community cards dealt face up. The winner is the player who can make the best five-card hand from the 7 available cards. However, through betting, bluffing and folding it’s possible to win a hand without necessarily holding the best cards.

3-Card Draw vs Omaha

Omaha is more closely related to Texas Holdem, where players are dealt four cards and must make their best hand using two of them combined with three of the five community cards in each hand.

Where To Play 3-Card Draw Online

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:

  • PlayOjo
  • Magic Red
  • All British Casino
  • 21 Lucky Bet
  • Fafabet
  • Casiplay
  • Yeti Casino
  • Winomania
  • LeoVegas
  • HeySpin

Live Dealer 3-Card Poker

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.


Is 3-card poker the same 3-card draw?

What’s the best strategy for 3-card poker?

Is 3-card poker easy to learn?

What are the odds of getting a 3-card straight flush?

James McMath
James McMath

James is writer and editor, specialising in sports betting and iGaming content. He has worked in the gambling industry since 2015 after spending 15 years as a journalist and sub-editor for top-tier UK media outlets including BBC Sport, The Times and The Guardian. James studied at the University of Central Lancashire and earned a degree in linguistics and journalism and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. James joined SafeBettingSites as iGaming Editor in 2023.

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