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Tri Card Poker: Rules and Payouts

- November 22, 2017 By Riley Wilson -

Basic facts about Tri Card Poker

Learn how to play Tri Card Poker online.

Often recommended to poker rookies, Tri Card poker is a simplified version of a standard poker game, where both the player and the dealer are dealt with three cards each. It is precisely because of its basic structure and fast pace rhythm that Tri Card poker is such a popular variation, ranking as one of the most sought after poker variants in online casinos.

According to some sources, the game bears strong similarities with British Brag and Indian Poker (Teen Patti); the version of the game known today is developed by Derek Webb in the 90s, a UK native who managed to patent the game and introduce it to the USA market.

Basic rules of Tri Card poker

It can easily be said that Tri Card is a 2 in 1 type of game. The participants can either play against the dealer -Ante/Play – or go for the Pair Plus which comes with a separate payout table for pairs or better. Depending on the casino, Pair Plus can be optional or obligatory, with the different amount requirements should the players decide to play both options.

The game starts with the player placing the Ante bet and, alternatively, wagering on Pair Plus, betting that the dealt hand will be a pair or have a higher value. Wagering amounts for the two bets will have to be different from each other and also fall somewhere in between the table betting range.

Once the Ante bet is submitted, the players decide if the dealt hand will be played or not and they either submit an equal betting amount on Play area or fold the hand and lose the Ante bet. Continuing with the game, the player competes against the dealer, who now must have at least a Queen in order to “qualify” and continue with the game. The potential outcomes after the player decides to play the hand are as follows:

  • Dealer fails to qualify and the player receives the Ante bet payout and recovers the Play bet
  • Dealer qualifies but eventually loses, resulting in the player getting paid both Ante and Play bets
  • Dealer manages to qualify and to defeat the player, collecting both Ante and Play bets
  • Dealer qualifies and the hands are a tie, in which case the player is returned Ante and Play bets

Pair Plus bet is independent of the Dealer and whether or not he manages to qualify will not affect it in any way. The only thing that does matter is scoring a Pair or higher and the player can then collect the bet.

Hand ranking and the payout table

In Tri Card poker, Straight is ranked higher than a Flush as the frequency rate of Flush is higher. As mentioned above, payout ratio for Ante bet is 1:1 if the dealer fails to qualify. Otherwise, the ratio will be 1:1 for Ante and 1:1 for Play bet. More detailed representation of the payouts can be found in the table below:

Rank Pair Plus Ante Bonus
Straight Flush 40:1 5:1
Three of a Kind 30:1 4:1
Straight 6:1 1:1
Flush 4:1
Pair 1:1

Optimal strategy

The most important thing that Tri Card poker player needs to know is which are the optimal hands that will produce the best results if played. It is usually recommended to play hands Q-6-4 and better and fold hands with a lower value.

In average, the house edge (when the optimal strategy is employed) is around 3.3% for Ante/Play bets and even less for Pair Plus  – 2.3%  Although Pair Plus is a tempting bet, most players tend to avoid the option (where possible) or at least stick to the minimum bet requirements. When the budget allows for it, you can change the approach and start with more aggressive Pair Plus betting approach.

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