Three Card Blackjack, sometimes abbreviated to Three Card, is a Table-Comparing game, as a variant of the traditional game Blackjack. Three Card, as its name suggests, is distinguished from the original game by its hand size of three.
Three Card Blackjack is most popular on the West Coast of the United States, particularly in Washington State.
How to Play Three Card Blackjack?
Three Card Blackjack, like most variants, uses multiple (Six to Eight) copies of a standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. These decks are combined into one large deck, referred to as the Shoe in Blackjack.
Three Card is somewhat different from its base game, although the win condition remains the same; You must attain a hand total of 21 or as close to 21 as possible, without going over.
Just like any other Blackjack game, Players must place a wager into the Ante box in order to be dealt cards by the Dealer.
Before cards are dealt, Players also have the option to make an additional side bet known as the Aces Plus.
The Aces Plus Bet will be further explained below in the Payouts and Odds section, but keep in mind that it pays out for each Ace dealt to a Player’s hand.
Players will be paid out for the Aces Up Bonus the instant their cards are dealt, as all three of the Player’s cards are dealt face-up.
Unique to Three Card Blackjack, Players are dealt three face-down cards after putting up their Ante rather than two.
The Dealer will also deal themselves three cards, two face-down or “hole” cards, and one card face-up for all Players to see.
Once the cards have been dealt, and money has been exchanged on the Aces Up Bonus, Players will take turns deciding whether to Raise or Fold their hands.
Unlike in traditional Blackjack, Players cannot Hit, Stand, Double Down, or Split. Instead, Players must choose between Raising and Folding.
No additional cards will be dealt to a Player. Their three cards are the only three cards they will receive in this particular hand. Players use two, or three, of these cards to form their highest-value legal Blackjack hand.
- Players that Fold surrender their Ante wager, but are still able to be paid out for their Aces Up wager.
- Players that decide to play with the hand they have been dealt must Raise, by placing a wager equal to the Ante into the Raise box just below the Ante.
Once all Players have decided to Raise or Fold, the Showdown will begin. The Dealer will reveal their two hole cards, and each Player will compare their hand against the Dealer’s.
The Dealer must qualify in Three Card Blackjack. In order to qualify, the Dealer must have at least a hand total of 17. If the Dealer does not qualify, Players will have their Ante and Raise pushed.
If the Dealer does qualify, then a normal Blackjack Showdown begins.
- Players can use either two, or all three of their cards.
- A Player is not required to use a third card in the Showdown if it would make them bust.
- Players that have 21, or a number closer to 21 than the Dealer without going over, win 1:1 on their Ante and Raise wagers.
- Players that have a hand total further away from 21 than the Dealer lose their Ante and Raise, though they might still win on the Aces Up.
If a Player has an Ace and a 10/Face-card, then they have a Blackjack. Players’ Blackjacks in Three Card always pay out, even if the Dealer also has Blackjack.
Blackjacks pay out regardless of the Dealer’s hand, but have different payouts depending on the Dealer’s qualification.
- If the Dealer is qualified, and a Player has Blackjack, the Player wins a 1:1 reward on their Ante and Raise bets.
- If the Dealer is not qualified, and a Player has Blackjack, the Player wins a 1:1 reward on their Ante only. The Raise pushes instead.
- If there are no Blackjacks, and the Dealer is qualified, players use two or all three of their cards to form the highest non-busting hand total possible, per normal Blackjack rules.
Once the Showdown is complete, cards are shuffled and new Antes placed.
A summary of the game’s rules can be found below:
- Some Three Card Blackjack tables allow for Players to play only the Aces Up wager, without paying into the Ante. These Players cannot participate in the Showdown, and will only be paid out for the Aces Up wager.
- Players cannot Hit, Stand, Double Down, or Split. Only Raise or Fold.
- The Dealer must qualify with a total of at least 17. If the Dealer can qualify, they must do so.
- Blackjack pays 1:1 on Raise and Ante. Winning hands pay 1:1 on Raise and Ante. Losing hands surrender all wagers except for Aces Up.
Payouts and Odds
The Aces Up Bonus pays out depending on the number of Aces and 10 Cards in a Player’s hand, with more of these cards resulting in higher payouts.
Face Cards are not considered 10s, only cards printed with the rank of 10 counts. Players are paid out regardless of the Showdown.
Aces Up Bonus Payout Table
|Two Aces and a Ten
|Two Aces and Any Non-Ten
|One Ace and Two Tens
|One Ace, One Ten, and One Non-Ten
|One Ace, and Two Non-Ten Cards
The overall House Edge on Three Card Blackjack is about 3.5%, while the Edge of this above bonus is about 2.5%. This is a rarity in Table games, where the Bonus has a better chance of payout than the game itself.
Imagine the Dealer has the following card showing: 8♣
And your hand is composed of the following:
9♣ 5♦ 4♠
Supposing that the Dealer’s hole cards are more likely to be valued at 10 than anything else, players have a choice to make.
Either Fold and surrender their Ante in order to save money, or stick with their 18 and Raise.
In this case, since the Dealer is more likely to be forced to play an 18 than any other hand, and will qualify, A Player assumes very little risk in Raising.
The Dealer can only beat your hand if they have an Ace in the Hole, or another combination that equals 11, 12, 13, and will pay out or push in every other circumstance.
Strategy and Tips
Play the Aces Up Side Bet
Three Card Blackjack is one of the very few table games that have a side wager that offers better odds than the game itself. However, that is only true In the specific paytable above. Some casinos utilize different payout tables.
If you see a table that matches the table specified above, and it is a casino that allows wagers on the Aces Up without a wager on the Ante, then only play the Aces Up wager without participating in the game. This gives you a higher chance of winning money, rather than losing it.
Raise When Your Hand Totals 20
A Player should always raise when their hand is 20, because the Dealer must have Blackjack or 21 in order to beat it, which is relatively rare in Three Card Blackjack. The odds of winning a raise on 20 are very high.