Three Card Poker Payouts

Three Sevens on a Poker Table with Chips Above Them

Three Card Poker is popular because it’s fun, it’s fast, and you can learn to play in under a minute.

One of the hallmarks of Three Card Poker is the existence of multiple bonus bets and the mix of the game’s standard payouts and all the available bonus payouts can be a little confusing.

This post will outline the basics of the game, including some notes on Three Card Poker odds, but the focus here will be on the payouts available for this popular casino-style poker game.

The Basics of Three Card Poker

The rules and basics of Three Card Poker are simple. The overall object of the game is to create the best possible poker hand with just three cards. Play is between each player and a dealer, like blackjack.

The game begins with an ante and the player’s first bonus bet option – the pair plus wager. The pair plus wager pays out an additional prize outside of any other winnings provided you end the game with at least a pair.

Three cards are dealt face-down to each player and the dealer. At this point, after looking at their cards, players have to make another choice. If you think your hand is good enough to finish in the money, you place a play wager equal to your ante. If you don’t like your hand, you can fold. If you fold at this point, you forfeit your ante and the pair plus wager if you placed it.

Players who place a play wager immediately determine an outcome against the dealer.

If the dealer’s high card is a Jack or worse, the player gets his play wager back in full. If the dealer’s high card is at least a Queen , it qualifies, and can be compared to each player’s hand.

Players who have better hands than the dealer earn a 1:1 payout on both the play and ante wager.

Players whose hands are worse than the dealer’s hand lose both the play and ante wagers.

Players who placed a pair plus wager then have their hands compared to the pay table, and if they hold a winning hand, they earn the payout as listed.

That’s all there is to it. It’s harder to spell out in words than to see in action –check out this short training video on how to play Three Card Poker from WinStar Casino.

Here’s another way to think of a typical hand of Three Card Poker:

  • Step 1. Ante
    Player makes a bet and has the option of placing a pair plus side bet.
  • Step 2. The Deal
    Three cards are deal to each player and the dealer. The pair plus side bet is determined at this point.
  • Step 3. The Decision
    Players decide whether to fold or place the play wager. Folding players lose all their bets.
  • Step 4. The Reveal
    The dealer shows their cards.
  • Step 5. The Outcome
    The strongest hand wins, with a push result possible due to a tie. Other bonuses are worked out during this part of the game.

Three Card Poker Pay Table

The game’s basic paytable is simple – all payouts are 1:1.

The pay table for the base game looks something like this:

  • Dealer’s Hand Doesn’t Qualify – ante wager 1:1, play wager PUSH
  • Dealer’s Hand Qualifies and is Higher – ante wager PUSH, play wager PUSH
  • Dealer’s Hand Qualifies and is Lower – ante wager 1:1, play wager 1:1
The truth is nobody plays Three Card Poker just to play the base game. A 1:1 payout just isn’t exciting enough to hold our short attention spans.

If we’re going to talk about payouts for Three Card Poker, we have to spend a lot of time talking about the pair plus, ante bonus, six-card bonus, and progressive pay tables.

Three Card Poker Pair Plus Payouts

The pair plus bonus is an odd one because you aren’t competing against the dealer or any other player. Instead, you’re making a bet that your result will be a pair or better.

The better your hand, the higher the payout for this bonus, though you lose the entire bet if you don’t qualify with at least a pair.

Here’s the pay table for Three Card Poker’s pair plus bonus bet:

  • Straight Flush – 40:1
  • Three-of-a-Kind – 30:1
  • Straight – 6:1
  • Flush – 3:1
  • Pair – 1:1

Overall, your odds of scoring a qualifying hand for this bet are 1 in 3, though you’re far more likely to qualify for the 1:1 or 3:1 payout than for the two top tier prizes. About 22% of qualifying wins will be either a pair or a flush. You’ll hold a straight flush or three-of-a-kind just under 0.5% of the time, on average.

Three Card Poker Ante Bonus Payouts

Other popular forms of casino-style poker have an obvious flaw – you win nothing when the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify. In games like Caribbean Stud, even if you form a powerful hand, you win nothing when the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify.

Three Card Poker cures that by way of the ante bonus.

Three Card Poker Table

Here’s how it works: If a player has placed both the ante and play wagers, and the dealer reveals a non-qualifying hand (meaning a hand that doesn’t include at least a Queen), your play wager is returned as a push.

But, if you hold a straight, three-of-a-kind, or straight flush, you’ll earn a special bonus payout, even though your other result was push.

Here’s the pay table for the Three Card Poker ante bonus:

  • 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

Take note that this bonus only pays out about once every 27 hands.

Three Card Poker Six Card Bonus Payouts

Most Three Card Poker games offer a six card bonus pay table. By placing an additional wager, equal to the ante, players can make their hands eligible for this bonus.

The six card bonus pays out based on the combination of the player and dealer’s hands, defaulting to the best possible hand that can be formed.

Here’s the pay table for the Three Card Poker six card bonus:

  • 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

The house edge on this bet is 6.74%. Again, that’s not a headline-grabbing longshot, especially compared to the house edge of other casino games, but it’s significantly higher than the base game, and players should realize that before placing this bonus side bet.

Based on the game’s typical pay table and rules, six card bonus bets should pay out about 7.27% of the time, or about once for every 13 hands you play.

Progressive Three Card Poker Payouts

Not every Three Card Poker game offers a progressive side bet, but it’s becoming more popular with more progressive networks forming every year.

Typically, the progressive side bet requires a bet equal to the ante and pays out based on the best possible hand among each player’s sets of cards. There’s a special “Envy” payout available to other players win someone at the table hits a big win.

Closeup of Three Aces

Here’s the pay table for a typical progressive Three Card Poker game:

  • 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

As for the Envy bonus, it’s paid out to every other player at the table when anyone achieves either of the top two payouts. When someone at the table holds the Ace/King/Queen of Spades, the other players earn a $100 bonus prize. When another player holds Ace/King/Queen in any other suit, the envy payout is $25.

The odds against those two straight flush hands are pretty long. You’ll only see a Mini Royal about once for every 22,000 hands, and the 500:1 payout is not much more likely at once in every 12,000 hands or so.

The house edge on the progressive side bet changes as the top prize increases, but with a $5,000 jackpot, the house edge here is about 70%. For every $1,000 in additional prize money, that figure drops by just under 5%.

Three Card Poker Odds

First, let’s talk about your odds of achieving the different hands in the Three Card Poker hierarchy.

  • Straight Flush – 0.21% chance
  • Three of a Kind – 0.23% chance
  • Straight – 3.2% chance
  • Flush – 4.9% chance
  • Pair – 16.9% chance
  • Ace High or Lower – 74.3% chance

Almost ¾ of the time, you’re going to be facing down the dealer in a high card vs. high card situation.

The odds of the best hands in the game’s hierarchy are pretty slim, which comes into play big-time when considering the odds for those bonus payouts.

Thanks to the long odds against drawing those highest-ranked hands, the overall house edge on the pair plus wager is 7.28% – about on par with a typical slot machine pull. That’s nowhere near the worst bet the casino offers but compared to the base game’s edge of 3.45% (when you play by optimal strategy), it’s something of a longshot.

In Summary

Three Card Poker isn’t a strategically challenging game. It’s not designed for that. If blackjack is Champagne, Three Card Poker is an energy drink. But sometimes, you need an ice-cold Red Bull more than you need a glass of vintage Dom.

Before you sit down to play Three Card Poker, check out the game rules and payouts. Make sure the game you choose offers the types of bonus bets you want to make. Understand that any bonus bet you place is a long shot and concentrate on having as much fun as you can.