Ways To Win Big At Three Card Poker On The Strip

OTS Note: There are many forms of Sin City’s hottest game and we can walk you through them all. We have a guide for traditional Las Vegas poker in Vegas. Perhaps a Pai Gow Poker guide is more your style. Of course, we also can give you all the tips for the Lone Star State’s signature form of the game with our Ultimate Guide To Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.

In Three Card Poker, Players go heads-up against the dealer in this casino-based game. Fun, fast paced and easy to learn, Three Card Poker on the Strip is one of the most popular poker based games in any of the many great Vegas casinos. The goal is to make a better poker hand than the dealer’s using only three cards.The player only makes one decision, bet or fold. When he bets, the best three card hand wins. It’s that easy. Numerous side bets allowing players to win against the dealer and against a paytable add an element of risk to the game for players who like to gamble.

Poker Three Kings Chips

How to Play

To initiate a hand of Three Card Poker, players make an Ante bet and an optional Pair Plus side bet. Three cards are dealt face down to the players and the dealer. A player looks at his cards and makes a Play bet the same size as his Ante when he thinks his hand is strong enough to beat the dealer’s. Otherwise, he folds and forfeits his Ante bet. A common mistake is overestimating the value of the dealer’s hand and folding too often. Optimal strategy says to make a Play bet when you’re dealt Q-6-4 or better.

A woman dealing cards for poker
Don’t be a flop, wait for the river! In Las Vegas

Selecting a Winner

Once the players have placed their bets, the dealer turns over the player’s cards and his own. Each player’s cards are compared to the dealer’s, who needs at least queen high for his hand to qualify. When it doesn’t, the player wins even money on his Ante bet, and his Play bet is returned. When the dealer’s hand qualifies, the player wins even money on his Ante and Play bets when he has the highest ranking three card poker hand. The player loses both bets when the dealer qualifies and has a better hand than his. 

  • The dealer must have at least queen high for his hand to qualify. 
  • Otherwise, the Play bet is a push, and the Ante is paid even money.
  • If the dealer has a qualifying hand and the player has a better hand, the player is paid even money on his Ante and Play bets. 
  • If the dealer has a qualifying hand that outranks the player’s, the player loses his Ante and Play bets.
  • If both the dealer and the player have the same winning hand, for instance a flush, the one with the highest ranking card wins. 
POker chips spread out on a table
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Hand Rankings

In Three Card Poker, it’s harder to make three of a kind than it is a flush or a straight. Certain hand rankings have been reversed because the number of ways to make each hand changes when you’re playing with three cards as opposed to five. In Texas Hold’em, a flush outranks a straight, but the reverse is true in Three Card Poker because there are more ways to make a flush than a straight. Take a look at the hand rankings chart below before you play.

Three Card Poker Hand Rankings Chart

  • Straight Flush     
    • Three consecutive cards of the same suit
  • Three of a Kind    
    • Three cards of the same rank
  • Straight           
    • Three cards ranked consecutively
  • Flush            
    • Three cards of the same suit
  • Pair               
    • Two cards of the same rank
  • High Card       
    • Three cards that do not make any of the hands on the pay table 
A man shuffles cards
Don’t get mixed up. Focus required for Las Vegas poker

Three Card Poker Odds and Strategy

Although playing Blackjack gives you some of the best odds versus the dealer, Three Card Poker on the Strip has relatively good odds, with a house edge just over 2% when you implement basic strategy by betting with Q-6-4 or better. Without this simple strategy, the house advantage increases to 3.37%. Some casinos allow you to see the other player’s cards and others don’t. If you’re permitted to look, consider calling with worse than basic strategy dictates when a lot of players are showing high cards. This is a sign that the dealer is less likely to have a strong hand. 

Three Card Poker Odds

  • Straight Flush        
    • 0.21% 
  • Three of a Kind    
    • 0.23%
  • Straight        
    • 3.2%
  • Flush            
    • 4.9% 
  • Pair            
    • 16.9% 
  • Ace High or Lower    
    • 74.3%
A man playing poker in low light
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Ante Bonus

When the dealer has the best hand, or one that doesn’t qualify, the player may be eligible for an Ante Bonus. The player earns a special bonus payout when he’s dealt a straight, three of a kind, or a straight flush.

  • Straight Flush        
    • 5:1 payout        
    • odds of 1 in 453
  • Three of-a Kind        
    • 4:1 payout    
    • odds of 1 in 415
  • Straight            
    • 1:1 payout    
    • odds of 1 in 29.6

Pair Plus Side Bet

The Pair Plus side bet pays out on a pair or better according to the value of the player’s hand. The higher his hand ranks on the pay table below, the larger the payout. A player can lose against the dealer and still win the Pair Plus side bet by matching the Pair Plus pay table below. A player is eligible for the payout whether or not the dealer’s hand qualifies. The Pair Plus side bet has a 7.28% house edge. 

A man playing poker in the dark
Raise the stakes. poker in Las Vegas

Pair Plus Pay Table

  • Straight Flush        
    • 40 to 1
  • Three of a Kind    
    • 30 to 1
  • Straight        
    • 6 to 1
  • Flush           
    • 4 to 1
  • Pair            
    • 1 to 1

6 Card Bonus Wager

Many Three Card Poker games offer a 6 Card Bonus side bet based on the player’s three cards, and the dealer’s combined. A player can fold and still win the 6 Card Bonus side bet. A player needs a minimum of three of a kind to get paid. The bonus wager with a 6.74% house edge pays out about 7.27% of the time.

A pair of aces stood up againts some chips
Can you be the poker ace? Las Vegas Poker

Six Card Bonus Pay Table

  • Royal Flush        
    • 1,000:1
  • Straight Flush        
    • 200:1
  • Four of a Kind    
    • 100:1
  • Full House        
    • 20:1
  • Flush            
    • 15:1
  • Straight        
    • 9:1
  • Three of a Kind   
    • 8:1

Progressive Side Bet

Some Strip casinos offer Three Card Poker games with a Progressive side bet. Typically equal to the size of the Ante, the Progressive side bet pays out on a straight or better. Side bets like this are longshots at best, but the jackpots are massive for those who beat the odds. In 2020, a Texas woman playing Three Card Poker at a Nevada casino hit a $1.3 million Progressive jackpot. It gives the game a similar feel to some of the accumulating jackpots players flock to at some of Las Vegas’s hottest slot machines.

a pack of cards spread out
Spread your bets, on the strip

Typical Progressive Pay Table

  • Ace/King/Queen of Spades        
    • 100% of the progressive jackpot
  • Ace/King/Queen in Other Suits    
    • 500:1
  • Straight Flush               
    • 70:1
  • Three of a Kind            
    • 60:1
  • Straight                
    • 6:1

Envy Bonus

When a player makes the Progressive side bet, he’s eligible for the Envy Bonus if one of his tablemates scores a premium hand. When a player is dealt Ace/King/Queen of Spades, his tablemates earn a $100 bonus prize. The Envy payout is $25 when another player holds Ace/King/Queen of any other suit.

A croupier dealing cards
Get the deal of the century, on the strip

Caesars Entertainment Millionaire Side Bet

Caesars Entertainment is featuring a $5 side bet that can make you a millionaire. It already has, for more than half a dozen gamblers. Win $1 million when you combine your three cards and the dealer’s three cards to make a six card royal flush in diamonds. A six card royal flush in any other suit is worth $100,000.

Stadium Three Card Poker

An electronic table game with a live dealer, Stadium Three Card Poker is making its way onto the Las Vegas Strip. With four games and 28 seats, Stadium Three Card Poker is open in the evenings at Treasure Island Las Vegas. Featuring the optional 6-Card Bonus and Pair Plus side bets, the game has a minimum $3 bet during off peak hours. The Three Card Poker table games at Treasure Island also have a low $10 minimum bet during off peak hours.

A row of poker machines
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Huge Payday

In December 2021, a Michigan man won $946,945 playing Three Card Poker at Flamingo Las Vegas. Scott Bradfield had been at the table for about an hour when he was dealt a royal flush consisting of 10 to ace of diamonds. A spokesperson for the casino reported that Bradfield frequented the Three Card Poker tables during his numerous trips to Las Vegas.

Also last year, a Three Card Poker player from California won nearly a quarter of a million dollars when he was dealt a royal flush at Harrah’s Las Vegas. Sergio Ochoa was killing time at the card table because his flight was delayed. When he looked down at his cards, Ochoa saw the top ranking hand in poker, worth $249,758.

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