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Card Poker Strategy

January 2, 2018

When you break out the 52-card deck and deal a hand of 3-card poker, the first strategy you need is a firm understanding of the rules. Rather than competing against other players, you are competing against the dealer. You need a better hand than the dealer (and at least a pair) to win. Each of you is dealt three cards, and the cards are shuffled after each hand. Because there are fewer ways to make a straight with 3 cards than a flush, straights rank higher. Aces are high or low.

You can make two bets: the Ante and the Pair Plus. The Ante is the fee charged to you for playing the hand. The Pair Plus is your bet that you will get a hand with a pair or higher. You don’t have to make both bets, but you do at least have to bet the Ante to stay in the game.

You ante when you put your bet on the game table’s Ante spot. Both you and the dealer are dealt three cards face down. Your next decision? Are these cards good enough for you to bet or should you fold? Fold and lose the ante. Bet and you place your bet that equals the ante in the game table’s Play spot. Win and you get the Ante and the Pair Plus payouts.


The dealer has to have a Queen or better to stay in the game. If not, you get payment on their ante only if it pays even money (1 to 1) – and as long as you didn’t fold.
Ante Payout

- A straight gets a 1 to 1 payout.
- A three of a kind gets a 4 to 1 payout. 
- A straight flush gets a 5 to 1 payout. 

Pair Plus Payout

- A pair gets a 1 to 1 payout. 
- A flush gets a 4 to 1 payout. 
- A straight gets a 6 to 1 payout. 
- A three of a kind gets a 30 to 1 payout.
- A straight flush gets a 40 to 1 payout.

Remember these tips to help your strategy:

- If you have a Queen or better, bet the Pair Plus. If not, fold.
- A dealer will get a Queen about 66% of the time. 
- The house has a 3.4% advantage.

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