When it comes to casino card games, blackjack and baccarat are the undisputed kings, but in the early 2000s, a new contender emerged on the scene – 3 Card Poker. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for this product as, at first, its inventor UK poker player Derek Webb struggled to market his game and faced continuous rejection. In 1999, he sold the rights to his casino-poker variant to Shuffle Master, who renamed it from Casino Brag to 3 Card Poker and pushed to get it in U.S. gambling establishments. Because of its connections, it was successful and the game soon exploded in America. According to the company, there are more than 2,000 3 Card Poker table installations in venues in every corner of the globe, making it the most profitable proprietary table game of all-time.
In 2002, UK gambling regulations changed, and this casino-poker variant was allowed to enter British casinos where it, too, attained an envious degree of popularity. Today, it is more-or-less a staple at premium gaming establishments and it has spawned multiple variations and unique side-bet options. Its appeal lies in that it provides sizeable payouts and gets played at speeds comparable to those at blackjack tables. If you are looking to play 3 Card Poker for real money, know that some venues still carry the game under its old name, Casino Brag, often going only by Brag.
3 Card Poker Rules Explained
3 Card Poker is a player vs. dealer game that gets played using a 52-card deck, which gets shuffled after every hand. So, you cannot count cards here. Your sole goal at these tables is to have a better hand than the dealer, who, as mentioned, is your only competition. A ranking system that is similar to traditional poker determines who wins each round. Naturally, there are slight differences. Because, as the game’s name suggests, you only get three cards per from your dealer.
You kick things off by making an ante bet. It signifies that you wish to receive your three cards. After you do, face down, of course, depending on their strength, you decide if you want to raise or fold. When you fold, you forfeit your ante. While, raising means that you must make a play bet, which will be equal to your ante. It tells the dealer that you wish to initiate a face-off on a quest to win both base wagers. For this to happen, meaning for you and the dealer to compare your 3 Card Poker hands, he must have a queen or higher in his three-card combo. If he does not, you win your ante bet, and the play wager gets pushed. When he has a queen or higher, then you compare poker hands. If you have the stronger one of the two, you will receive even money on both wagers. If the dealer is the one with the better rank, he collects both bets.
On your ante, you can win more than even money when you have a straight flush (5 to 1) or three-of-a-kind (4 to 1). Though, these 3 Card Poker payouts may vary depending on your chosen venue.
Where to Play Online
Unlike other popular table games, the 3 Card Poker live offer is scarce. Evolution Gaming, the industry leader in live dealer action, is a rare provider that offers such tables in this format, broadcasting them from their Latvia studio. UK’s Playtech is another exception, and it carries it under the name 3 Card Brag. It is absent from the portfolios of other high-end game suppliers.
That said, when it comes to locating the game in its RNG (random number generator) format, the number of sites to play 3 Card Poker online is abundant. Such an option lets you play against software, where an algorithm, a random number generator, is responsible for shuffling/dealing cards. Note that no one can affect the behavior of this software. Industry-certified testing agencies perform regular audits that ensure that everything is on the up and up and that all results are arbitrary. The benefit of facing off against a computer is that you are the only player at the table, and the software can handle cards faster than any dealer. That means, if you can play up to 70 hands per hour against a croupier when competing against his digital version, this figure may jump well over 100.
3 Card Poker Side-bets
The 3 Card Poker rules may be simple, but the game gets a bit more complicated thanks to the variety of side-bets available and their associated payouts. Most gaming establishments will offer at least one side-bet option, but often, they will incorporate a minimum of two. Know that it is rare to find a venue that goes above this number.
Most players consider many of the side-bet options listed below as sucker ones, and they tend to avoid all of them, except for the pair plus wager. The house edges of these extra wagers go far beyond the one available in the base game. They are more there for entertainment purposes, a shot in the dark, and are not a viable money-making opportunity.
- Pair plus – Now, this is the most common 3 Card Poker additional wager. It is the one available at most tables and is an independent bet. That means that you win or lose it regardless of what the dealer holds. You only need a pair or better to collect a payout. The stronger your poker hand is, the better the payout you will receive. The typical pay structure is that you win a reward of 40 to 1 for a straight flush, one of 30 to 1 for three-of-a-kind, the dealer pays you 6 to 1 for a regular straight, and you collect a prize of 4 to 1 for a simple flush. What is unique about this bet is that its house edge is 1% lower than the two base wagers. However, its element of risk is slightly higher (0.31%). It compares your expected loss to your total amount bet.
- 6-Card bonus – While the pair plus wager may be the most common 3 Card Poker side-bet, the 6-Card bonus is the most popular. It combines both your and the dealer’s cards to make up the best possible five-card poker hand. Its popularity stems from the fact that it is a mini-game in itself, where you can win a payout of 1,000 to 1 for a royal flush and one that’s 200 to 1 for a straight flush.
- Prime – You can find this extra wager usually offered in combination with the pair plus one. You win it by getting a hand consisting of cards in the same color. Their suits are irrelevant. If you managed to receive three all red or all black cards, you win a prize that is 3x your stake.
- Millionaire Maker – The concept behind this side-bet is similar to that of the 6-Card bonus. Meaning, to win it, you must form the best poker hand from yours and the dealer’s cards. It has a $5 bet minimum, and if you manage to combine a six-card super royal in diamonds, you will receive a payout of 200,000 to 1. You cannot win more than a million on this side-bet, but you can receive other payouts for other, weaker poker ranks.
- Progressive side-bet – Akin to progressive jackpot slots, the mechanics behind this bonus is similar to that of reel-spinners such as Mega Moolah. The prize pool keeps growing until someone wins it all. The goal here is to land a mini royal in spades while putting down a dollar. Some casinos provide small payouts for other poker hands, such as a mini royal, a straight flush, and three-of-a-kind.
3 Card Poker rules are simple to grasp. They should take you no more than five minutes to comprehend. The best way to learn them is through gameplay. If you do not have a deck and someone who knows 3 Card Poker around, your best alternative is to pop open an online casino and enjoy some demo-play. Most digital gambling platforms do not require you to deposit or even sign-up to test their RNG versions of classic table games. All you have to do is open their table selection and click on the first image advertising this casino-poker variant. The game should load immediately, and you will get bucket loads of dummy cash that will help you master it. Remember, when you feel ready to move over to the real money side of things, you must practice proper bankroll management. If you plan on playing 3 Card Poker online, then look into setting deposit/loss limits inside your online casino’s profile account. Try not to overstep your means by betting more than you can afford to lose. Always gamble responsibly.
About the Author
Shelly Schiff is an online gambling table expert that has provided content for the interactive gaming industry for eleven years. She has contributed thousands of articles for countless websites but is best known as a frequent contributor to OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com, the internet’s premier iGaming info hub. Shelly has a keen interest in all things related to crypto gambling and also enjoys playing specialty games such as online keno.