Online 3-card poker actually comprises two games in one: Pair Plus and Ante & Play. You may play one 3-card poker game or the other, or play both games together in the online 3-card poker casino. Pair Plus is a game of pure luck, while Ante & Play involves an element of three-card poker strategy.
Pair Plus: A Game of Pure Luck
In Pair Plus, you simply compare your three-cards poker hand with the winning combinations posted on the payout table. You have no opportunity to draw additional cards, to raise your bet, or to do anything else that involves poker strategy or that will increase your chances to win at three-card poker. All you can do is hope for good luck.
Ante and Play: A Game of Poker Strategy
Ante and Play is different. In Ante and Play, you are playing against the dealer. After examining your three poker cards, and estimating the probability of beating the dealer, you must decide whether to Fold or Play. This is where 3-card poker strategy comes in.
If you have a winning poker hand, such as a pair, three of a kind, a flush, or a straight, you should definitely Play. Your odds of winning Ante and Play are very high when you hold one of these winning poker hands.
If you do not have a winning poker hand, you should Play anyway if you have a hand of Queen/6/4 or better. But what does this mean exactly?
Remember that poker hands are ranked according to the highest card. The second card, and then the third, are examined only to break a tie. So a King-5-3 would beat a Queen-6-4 based on the high card; there is no need to look further. By the same token, a Queen-7-2 beats a Queen-6-4: the high cards tie, and the second card breaks the tie; there is no need to look at the third card. Playing with a Queen-6-4 or better has been mathematically proven to be the optimal 3-card poker strategy that gives you the best chance to win 3-card poker consistently.
Play Two 3-Card Poker Games at Once
On a single hand of online three-card poker, you may play Pair Plus, you may play Ante and Play, or you may play both 3-card poker games together. It is always a good three-card poker strategy to play both games. This gives you a chance to hedge your bets and thereby minimize your losses. It also gives you a chance to maximize your real money winnings when you have a really good three-card poker hand.
If you have a pair of 6’s, and the dealer has a pair of 8’s, you win Pair Plus (you have a pair) but you lose Ante and Play (the dealer’s pair is higher). On the next hand, you might have King-5-4, and the dealer has Queen-9-7. In that case, you lose the Pair Plus game, but you win the Ante and Play game (your high card beats the dealer’s high card). So you can see that playing both three-card poker games doubles your chances of winning when you play three-card poker online.
There will also be times when you are lucky enough to get a really good poker hand, like three of a kind. With three of a kind, you win a payout of 30-to-1 in your Pair Plus game. At the same time, in your Ante and Play game, you can win both your ante bet and your play bet, plus an additional Ante Bonus payout of 4-to-1. In other words, a winning poker hand can win you big payouts on both three-card poker games at once. It would be a shame to give up a real money payday like that because you neglected to play one three-card poker game or the other.