Three Card Poker

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Three Card Poker
DesignersDerek Webb
Years active1994
GenresCasino game

Three Card Poker is a casino table game based on poker. It was designed in 1994 by Derek Webb.


A Three Card Poker table in a casino aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship

The casino variant of Three Card Poker was first created by Derek Webb in 1994 and patented in 1997. Webb's goal was to create a version of poker that played with the speed of other table games. It was important to Webb that he got the correct mix of three important factors for any casino game: the game rules were easy to understand, the payouts were large enough to attract players, and the house edge was enough that casino owners would be interested in adopting the game.

Webb established a business called Prime Table Games to market the game in both the United States and United Kingdom.[1] The British Casino Association, now known as the National Casino Industry Forum (NCiF) suggested that Webb gain some experience in the US first, since the UK had regulations against such a table game and his application was not strong enough to convince regulators to make significant changes to their rules and regulations for a new game.

The first to adopt the game was Barry Morris, Vice President of Grand Casino Gulfport in Mississippi, after Webb had unsuccessful sales pitches with casino owners in Reno, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. A key aspect of Webb's offer to Morris was to stand on the floor to train the dealers himself, as well as watch to make sure the game was being played correctly. United Kingdom gambling regulations were changed to allow the introduction of Three Card Poker in 2002.

Prime Table Games continued marketing Three Card Poker until 1999, when Shuffle Master acquired the rights to the game outside the British Isles. The sale was prompted by a lawsuit filed that year in US federal court by Mikohn Gaming, the then-owners of Caribbean stud poker, alleging patent infringement; Shuffle Master agreed to defend that litigation as part of the purchase. Subsequently, in 2007, Prime Table Games showed in a countersuit that the 1999 litigation was based on invalid patent claims; Mikohn (which had since been renamed as Progressive Gaming International Corporation – PGIC) settled the suit by paying $20 million.[2] Further, Prime Table Games filed suit against Shuffle Master in 2008 alleging in part that Shuffle Master had undisclosed knowledge that the PGIC claims were invalid prior to the 1999 purchase; that lawsuit was later settled for over $2 million.[3]


Three Card Poker is played as heads-up between the player's hand and the dealer's hand. After all ante wagers are placed, three cards are dealt to each player and the dealer. Players have a choice to either fold or continue in the game by placing a "play" wager equal to their ante. Hands are then exposed and wagers resolved.[4]

The dealer's hand must be Queen high or better for the dealer hand to play. If the dealer does not play, then there is no action on play wagers and ante wagers are paid 1 to 1. If the dealer does play, the dealer and player hands are compared. If the player hand loses, both the ante and play wagers are lost. If the player hand wins, both the ante and play wagers are paid 1 to 1. If the hands are tied, then there is no action on either wager.[4]

Additional optional bets are offered. The Pair Plus wager is a bet that the player's hand will be a pair or better. The Pair Plus wager wins if the player has at least a pair of twos. The payoff applies regardless of the dealer's hand, as the Pair Plus wager is not in competition against the dealer's hand. Some casinos also offer an Ante Bonus, which is paid on the ante wager for a straight or better. The typical Ante Bonus paytable pays 5 to 1 for a straight flush, 4 to 1 for a three of a kind, and 1 to 1 for a straight. Like the Pair Plus wager, the Ante Bonus pays regardless of whether that hand beats the dealer's hand.[4]

Hand ranks[edit]

Straight flush
Jack of clubs10 of clubs9 of clubs

Three of a kind
6 of clubs6 of diamonds6 of hearts

9 of spades8 of diamonds7 of clubs

Queen of spades10 of spades6 of spades

2 of diamonds2 of heartsQueen of hearts

High card
Ace of heartsJack of clubs10 of hearts

Examples of poker hand categories in descending order
Hand Ranks of Three Card Poker[5]
Rank Description Frequency Probability
Straight flush Three suited cards in sequence 48 0.22%
Three of a kind Three cards of same rank 52 0.24%
Straight Three cards in sequence 720 3.26%
Flush Three suited cards 1,096 4.96%
Pair Two cards of same rank 3,744 16.94%
High card None of the above 16,440 74.39%
Total hands - 22,100 -

Probability of Queen high or better is 69.59%[citation needed]


Some venues have added a wager called Prime in United Kingdom casinos and the game is known as Prime Three Card Poker. The Prime wager is optionally placed before cards are dealt and pays on the color of the player cards. If all three cards are the same color the payoff is 3 to 1. However, when included with the dealer hand if all six cards are the same color then the payoff is increased to 4 to 1.

Another variation is "six card bonus", in which the players are given a payout based on the best five-card poker hand that can be made using any combination of the player's three cards and the dealer's three cards. Payoff ranges from 5 to 1 for three of a kind to 1000 to 1 for royal flush. Payoffs are paid regardless of whether any other bets pay.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Intellectual Property Office patent entry". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
  2. ^ Stutz, Howard (November 7, 2007). "Progressive agrees to pay $20 million to end lawsuit". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Stutz, Howard (January 14, 2011). "Charge hurts Shuffle Master earnings". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Matt Villano (August 27, 2014). "Winning a 3-card poker can be tough". SfGate.
  5. ^ "Three Card Poker - Wizard of Odds". Retrieved 2020-02-01.