Three Card Brag goes back all the way to the 16th century and despite being less popular today than Poker (except in India and Nepal where it is still thriving) it is a very entertaining game full of bluffing but unlike poker there are table limits which means you cannot be bluffed out of the game with an “all in”. It would be unusual to find in a land based casino but some online casinos offer the game such as BetFred.
The game is played with three cards as the name suggests and there are only two betting rounds, one before the “draw” and one after the “draw”. The “draw” is the players opportunity to change as many cards as they wish. The other unique feature of this game is the ability to play “blind” which means without having seen the cards.
The game starts with each player being dealt three cards facedown; the player to the left of the dealer puts in a “small blind” and the next player to the left puts in the “big blind”. These blinds are the same as in Texas Hold’em poker and are determined by the table stakes. If a table is designated as €1-€2 then the small blind is €1 and the big blind is €2. Play continues in a clockwise direction with each player either to throw the cards away (less likely at this stage as the player has the chance to change all three cards at the “draw”), to call (to level up the stakes) or to raise. A raise is always the value of the big blind and there can only be a maximum of three raises in the betting round so you know your maximum exposure in any hand. If the player chooses to play their cards blind they only bet half the going bet. When all remaining players have placed equal amounts into the pot it is time for the “draw”. Each player in turn may exchange as many cards as they wish from the pack. The dealer will ask each player in turn, take the discarded cards and deal the correct number of fresh cards from the deck. Be aware that every player can see how many cards each player is exchanging.
After the “draw” there is another betting round exactly the same as the first except that the initial bet is twice the size of the big blind. Again there can only be three raises in the round. Although it is theoretically possible to be playing blind at this stage it never actually happens as it would mean the player would be exchanging cards at the draw without having seen the original cards which is pretty pointless. The player remaining in the game with the highest hand at the end of the betting round is the winner and takes the pot.
Hand rankings are similar to poker but slightly different:
– The highest possible hand is three of a kind with three threes being the highest followed by three aces then kings, queens etc down to twos.
– The next highest hand is a running flush (three consecutive cards of the same suit); the highest running flush is A,2,3 followed by A,K,Q, then K,Q,J, etc down to 4,3,2. Note that although A,2,3 is a run K,A,2 is not. The next highest hand is a run (three consecutive cards of different suits). The order of runs follows the same rules as the running flush (see above)
– After the run comes a flush (three cards of the same suit but not consecutive); the highest flush is A,K,J followed by A,K,10. As in poker it is the value of the highest card in the flush that determines the value. If the highest cards are equal then the second highest counts.
After the flush comes a pair and the highest pair are aces followed by Kings etc. If two players have an equal pair the third card will determine who has the higher hand.
After a pair comes high card with an Ace being the highest.
As is often the case the game is actually simpler than the explanation so if you enjoy poker give 3 card a go; it is full of bluff and moves much faster and you can play heads up which is always interesting. When playing with BetFred the stakes are currently only in £ sterling so you will notice that the money you bring to the table is converted and then converted back when you leave.
Once again an online casino gives you a different variation to enjoy.