You’ve played classic poker, Texas Hold ‘Em, aces and eights, deuces wild, bonus deuces wild. To summarize, you’ve played a lot of poker, and you’re looking for something new. Or, maybe you’ve never played poker. Maybe you really understand the complicated hands, are intimidated by competing against other players, and want to ease your way into the game. Either way, you need a poker game that’s easy to learn, quick to play, and fun through-and-through. Look no further – tri-card poker is the game for you.

Check out these tips and tricks to get started playing a fun twist on a classic game of poker. You could be stacking up chips before you can count to three.

Tri-card poker rules

tri-card poker rules

First things first. You need to know that the hierarchy of winning poker hands is different in tri-card poker versus classic poker. Because the odds of getting certain hands are different with three cards instead of five, the order of winning hands is different as well. From highest to lowest, the order of hands in tri-card poker is:

  • Straight flush
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Pair
  • High card

Secondly, you need to know that players in tri-card poker are competing against the dealer instead of one another. That’s a way of playing that’s much closer to blackjack than classic poker. However, this way of playing poker is helpful for people who aren’t very good at reading their opponents or bluffing. It allows players to get comfortable with the hands and the gameplay before competing against other players at a classic poker table.

2 modes of play

There are two modes of play for tri-card poker, and both of them are easy to learn. One is known as Ante and Play, while the other is known as Pair Plus. Some casinos make the Ante and the Pair Plus optional, but most casinos make the Ante mandatory. After all the Ante and Pair Plus wagers have been placed, the dealer and players are each dealt three cards. Players may look at their cards while the dealer’s remain facedown.

Players that have placed the Ante wager have the choice to either place a Play bet or fold. If they decide to play, they must place a bet that exactly matches their Ante bet – no more and no less. After players decide their course of action, hands are shown and wagers settled. Easy, peasy.

In the Pair Plus mode of play, players are betting on the poker value of their own hand. They place the Pair Plus bet before the cards are dealt, and only win money if they have a pair or better. The payout for Pair Plus wagers is decided by a pay scale, which is based on the hand a player possesses. Most commonly, a pair pays 1:1 while a straight flush pays 40:1. Whenever a player places a Pair Plus wager and has less than a pair, the player loses the bet.

Play both options

In tri-card poker, it is possible to play both the Ante and Play option and the Pair Plus mode at the same time. A player can wager both the Ante and Play bets to start the game. Once the cards are dealt the player will know whether or not he has won at least one of his bets if he has a pair or better. Then the player can choose to fold his Ante bet or place a Play bet based on his cards.

Tri-card poker payouts

tri card poker payout table

In tri-card poker, if the dealer doesn’t possess a queen or higher, he doesn’t qualify to play. When a player places a Play bet and the dealer has only a jack or lower, the player wins an even amount on his Ante bet and the Play bet pushes.

However, if the dealer qualifies there are several different outcomes. If the player has the higher hand, both the Ante and Play bets are paid. If the player and dealer have the same hand, both bets will push. And if the player has the lower hand, he loses both his Ante and Play bets.

Interestingly, if the player makes the Ante bet and possesses a straight or better, he receives an Ante bonus. This is paid out no matter what the value of the dealer’s hand is.

Tri-card poker basic strategy rules

tri card poker hand

Like pretty much every card game available in the casino today, there is a strategy. Tri-card poker gives you the most bang for your buck, and you can reduce the house edge to the lowest it can possibly go.

For the Ante and Play option, know when to fold and when to play your hand. The general rule is that whenever you have a combination of Queen-6-4 or better, place a Play bet. If you possess anything lower, fold. Here are more strategy rules that players should generally follow while playing:

  • Make the play bet whenever the high card is an Ace or a King, regardless of the value of your other two cards.
  • If your high card is a Queen and your second highest is a 7 or higher, bet.
  • If your high card is a Queen and your second highest is a 6, only play if the third card is a 4 or a 5.
  • Do not play a Queen-high hand if the second highest is a 6 and the third card is below a 4.
  • Fold your hand if it is a Queen and a 5 or anything lower, no matter what the value of the third card is.
  • Do not bet on a Jack-high hand or anything lower, no matter what your other cards are.

Lowering the house edge

By following these rules, you’re cutting the house edge to the lowest it can get while playing the Ante and Play option of gameplay, hovering around 3.37 percent. However, if you want to cut it down as much as possible and make the game a seriously easy no-brainer, playing the Pair Plus option only brings the edge down to only 2.32 percent.

So, now that you know the basics of tri-card poker, do you think you’re ready to try it out? Head over to Planet 7 Casino to play our video poker games for free before you play for real money – follow these tips and tricks and you could be tripling your bankroll as easy as one, two, three.

Frank West is a bit of an itinerant gambler. An avid traveler and freelance writer with a penchant for games of chance, Frank has hit the tables in casinos the world over and picked up a copious volume of knowledge along the way. Frank enjoys passing on what he’s learned in blog and magazine articles about gambling and teaching people how to beat the house. He also covets his privacy, authoring his articles only under the pen name Frank West.