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Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker was invented in England in the mid 1990's by Derek Webb. It was originally called Casino Brag, since it was inspired by 3-card Brag, adapted to create a casino game in which players bet against the house rather than against each other. The name Three Card Poker was adopted when this game was introduced to America; it is sometimes also known as Tri Poker. The game was initially marketed to casinos by Derek Webb's organisation Prime Table Games, but in 1999 the rights to the game were acquired by Shuffle Master, later renamed SHFL Entertainment, Inc. In 2012 SHFL took steps to emphasise their ownership of the game by registering the name of the 'Pair Plus' side bet as a service mark (trade mark).

An older game, also called Three Card Poker, is described in several 20th century American card game books. This was a Draw Poker game played with three-card rather than five-card hands, where players bet against each other in normal poker style.

Cards and Initial Bets

The modern casino game of Three Card Poker is played with a 52-card pack at a special table on which the cards are dealt and bets placed. There are two bet types available. Before seeing any cards, each player can make a bet on one, both or neither.

The ranking of hands for Three Card Poker from lowest to highest is:

Note that there is no ranking among suits. Hands that have the same combination and equally high cards, differing only in suit, are tied.

Ante and Play

Three cards are dealt to each player who has placed an ante bet and three cards to the dealer. After viewing his three cards the player must decide to either:

  1. make a play bet, placing an additional amount equal to the ante bet, or
  2. fold, losing the ante bet and any Pair Plus® bet.

Following this decision, the dealer's hand is revealed and there is a showdown.

An additional bonus is also payed on the ante bet irrespective of dealer's hand or outcome of the hand if the player holds a strong hand

Pair Plus®

The name of this special side bet, which has been a part of the game since its invention in the 1990's, was registered as a trade mark of SHFL Entertainment, Inc. in 2012.

The result of a Pair Plus® bet depends only on the three cards dealt to the player - the dealer's cards are irrelevant. The Pair Plus® bet is lost if the player does not hold a pair or better. Winning hands are paid as follows:

Other Three Card Poker Sites and Software

The Three Card Poker page of Scott McIntosh's provides rules, analysis, advice and odds calculators.

Bob Maxwell's includes a useful page on Three Card Poker rules and strategy.

Wizard of Odds offers a free Three Card Poker game that can be played online in a browser.

Three Card Poker can be played online at