How To Play Three Card Poker
This game is usually played for money as, unlike other card games, for instance euchre or cribbage, there's absolutely no scoring involved. The game is played using one deck of cards from which the dealer deals three cards to each player. Before the deal each player must place a sum of money, the 'ante', into what is commonly referred to as ' the pot'. Each player in turn bets by placing further money into the pot until there are only two players left in the game. The player with the highest ranking hand wins the contents of the pot.
Let's break this down a little further and examine the various stages of the game and for the true purpose of this piece we'll assume the game isn't being played in a casino. Three card poker is a gambling game so it's best to establish some rules that each and every player be aware of and more comfortable with prior to entering the game.
It is crucial to establish and agree to the amount that each player pays before being allowed to participate in each hand, that's called the ante. The ante is required to be paid in full by each player before each new hand is dealt. The very least and maximum initial bet amount should be agreed upon. They are the minimum and maximum amounts that the first player can bet to be able to stay in the hand. The 'raise' limit must be established. The raise limit is a predetermined table maximum bet that no player can exceed. Some card schools enables wild cards, sometimes referred to as 'floaters', and these should be made known prior to the commencement of play.
The game it self is played using one 52 card deck without Jokers. To ascertain who will deal first the cards are cut then dealt clockwise until a pre plumped for card appears whereupon the player receiving the card will deal first in the game proper. The cards are shuffled well before the first deal and do not get shuffled again until a player receives three of a sort or 'prial', eg three Kings or three Sevens etc .
To begin with play each player puts his ante money in the pot then your dealer deals a card to each player in turn beginning with the player to his immediate left and procedes around the dining table three times until everyone has three cards in front of them including the dealer. Players must play or fold in turn beginning with the player left of the dealer. If a player folds his or her cards are placed face down at the end of pack (the remaining deck containing the unused cards). At the conclusion of the hand the offer will be passed to the player on the outgoing dealer's left, so both play and deal are clockwise.
Betting begins with the player to the dealer's left who can do one of three things. He can leave his cards face down on the table and bet 'blind', that is bet without having looked over his cards. Whilst this is often risky, considering the fact that his hand could be the one that most players would instantly fold, it can afford him the luxury of only betting half as much as players who are 'open', ie they have seen their hands (an open player cannot raise or visit a blind man but a blind man can raise or see an open man). Secondly he can look at his cards and bet an amount prior to the minimum and maximum first bet amounts, or lastly they can fold or 'stack' his cards. After he or she plays or folds play is passed onto the next player to determine what they will do and so on.
Play continues around the dining table as necessary with players betting in which to stay the game or folding to get out until the winner is determined. The winner might not necessarily be the player who holds the highest ranking hand were all cards to be turned face up. In some instances players will fold their hands in turn, judging them not to be sufficiently adequate to warrant betting anymore money on, leaving the last man to scoop up the pot. The last man may only be holding the lowest hand possible, a Two, a Three, and a Five of mixed suits, yet he wins the pot due to the other players folding their hands. More often than not play will continue until only two players are left and at some point one will call the other in which particular case the player with the best ranking hand wins. On occasion two players will be left in who both have identical ranking hands, for example Ace, King, Four, all diamonds. In this case the player who pays to see the other player's cards, and thereby end that one game, loses.
Hand ranking falls in to one of six categories in three card poker. The very best category is a prial, and that is three cards of equal rank or value with the absolute top ranking hand being three Threes. Second best hand would be three Aces then Kings and so forth.
The second highest category would be a running flush in which Ace Two Three of the same suit is the surface of the pile, followed closely by Ace King Queen, King Queen Jack and so on down seriously to Four Three Two.
The next category hand rankings follow those of the second category with the exception that they are runs constructed from mixed suits. Remember that a Two Three Four in the second category (running flush) beats an Ace Two Three of the 3rd category (run)
The fourth category is comprised of flushes whereby all three cards are of the same suit, the best flush being Ace King Jack and the lowest being Five Three Two.
The fifth category is where we find the pairs, the best being truly a pair of Aces then Kings and so on down seriously to Twos. When two hands are left in the overall game with both sporting moobs naturally the higher pair wins but if both pairs are the same then the winner is deemed to be the player with the highest third card (unless both hands are of identical value as discussed early in the day where the player who 'sees' the other player loses).
Finally the sixth and lowest ranking category is where we find the high card. This is ostensibly where you have a hand that doesn't form some of the combinations within categories one to five so the hand rank is determined by it's highest value card, the Ace being highest obviously, then King etc . Where players have identical highest value cards the second highest value cards are used to find the winner and if those cards are identical then it falls down to the third highest cards to be compared. If neither hand betters the other then a player who paid to see the other players hand loses.
Betting is such that you can't bet below the player before you but you aren't forced to bet higher unless you want to. When only two players are left and one pays to see the other, which has to be double the last amount bet, the player who is called must reveal his cards. If the calling player's hand is higher he must show his hand to prove he is the winner but if he has the losing hand he's under no obligation to exhibit his cards since he has lost the hand.
There is a final rule whereby if a new player runs out of money he can 'cover the pot' whereby if it is his turn he may put all of his remaining money into the pot then place his cards face down over that pot and the remaining players carry on betting without him placing their money in a brand new pot. Since the pot is permitted each time a player has very little or no money left following his cover bet. When the winner of the new pot is decided the player who covered the old pot has his cards unveiled and the best hand wins the old pot. In case of a tie the player who covered the pot loses.
That is a great game to play but beware a good three card poker game can last through the night if things go your path.
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