Two Online Poker Games in One
The game of poker has been around for centuries and is played in hundreds of variations, including such favourites as 5-card draw poker, 7-card stud, and Texas hold'em. Three-card poker is believed to have been created in 1994 in the UK; from there it spread throughout Europe and the US and eventually to the online casino as well.
Three-card poker is played with a standard 52-card deck. The game starts with you and the dealer each receiving three cards; your cards are face up, the dealer's are face down.Online three-card poker is actually two online poker games in one: "Pair Plus" and "Ante and Play." On any hand of online 3-card poker, you can play either game or both games simultaneously.
Pair Plus 3-Card Poker
Pair Plus is essentially a solitaire game. The dealer's hand is irrelevant, all that matters is the three cards in your own hand. A winning hand is based on the traditional poker rules governing the rankings of poker hands. If your hand contains a pair, you win. It's as simple as that. If your hand is better than a pair — such as a flush, a straight, or three of a kind — you win even more, up to a straight flush paying off at a nifty 40-to-1.
Ante and Play 3-Card Poker
In Ante and Play poker, you are playing poker against the dealer. The game consists of two rounds, called (you guessed it!) the Ante round and the Play round.
Before the Ante round, you choose the amount of your bet by placing your chips in the Ante circle. The dealer then deals you three cards face up and himself three cards face down. You must then either fold or play.
If you fold, the game is over and you lose your ante bet. If you choose to proceed to the Play round, you raise your bet by placing a Play bet equal to your original Ante bet. The dealer's cards are then turned over, and you win if your hand is higher than the dealer's hand. And if you win with a straight, three of a kind, or a straight flush, you win an additional Ante Bonus of up to 5 times your Ante bet.
The Winning Three-Card Poker Hands
Because the smaller hand in 3-Card Poker affects the probabilities of drawing the different types of winning poker hands, it also changes the ranking of the hands. If you think about, you'll realize that it's harder to get three of a kind in a 3-card hand than it is in a 5-card hand. But conversely, it's easier to get a 3-card flush than to get a 5-card flush. Therefore, online 3-card poker has its own unique hand-ranking system, as follows:
- Straight Flush
- Three of a Kind
- High Card
A Three-Card Poker Strategy
Many people consider it a good 3-card poker strategy to play both Pair Plus and Ante and Play together. That way, you minimize your risk and maximize your chances of winning. A few examples will illustrate the wisdom of this online three-card poker strategy.
- You have a pair and the dealer has a straight. You lose the Ante and Play game, since the dealer's hand is better than yours, but you win the Pair Plus game with your pair.
- You have a King, 7, and 5; the dealer has a Queen, 8, and 6. You lose in Pair Plus, since you don't have a winning poker hand, but you win in Ante and Play, because your King-high hand beats the dealer's Queen-high.
The best scenario, of course, is when you get a 3-card poker hand that is good enough to win both games at once. Suppose, for example, that you have three of a kind and the dealer has a pair. Here's what you'll win:
- A 30-to-1 payout on your Pair Plus bet
- A 1-to-1 payout on your Ante bet
- A 1-to-1 payout on your Play bet
- A 4-to-1 Ante Bonus
All in all, it adds up to quite a payday for three simple playing cards. And that's the fun of playing 3-card poker online.