Three Card Prime is a casino table game developed by Galaxy Gaming. It borrows some of the mechanics from traditional poker.
Three Card Prime is essentially Three-Card Poker, another casino table-comparing game that pretends to be a poker game. However, the payouts and bonuses for Prime are calculated in a different way, which will be explained below.
How to Play Three Card Prime?
Three Card Prime is played with 2-8 Players, using the Standard Anglo-American 52-card Deck. The Dealer will shuffle the deck after each Player has made the requisite Ante to be expected from most table games.
Ante Betting Rules
This Ante must conform to the table’s posted minimum and maximum betting limits. These limits may vary from table to table, even within the same casino.
Once the Antes have been made, the Dealer will dispense three cards face-down to each Player, and then three to themselves.
Dealing the Cards
Once the cards have been dealt, players are given a choice from two possible positions. Players may either Play or Fold.
Folding Players surrender the game and the Ante wager they have already made. Players also forfeit any right to money they may have won, had they played their hand. However, Folding Players are not obligated to make an additional wager.
Players who decide to Play are obligated to make an additional wager onto the “Raise” betting box.
- This Raise bet must be exactly equal to the Ante bet made earlier.
- Each Player’s wagers are based on an individual basis.
- Your Raise is based on your own Ante, only.
Players that decide to Play the hand are able to compare their hand to the Dealer’s in the Showdown for the chance to receive a payout.
The Ante Wager always wins 1:1, but the Play wager will payout based upon the quality of meld used to win against the Dealer.
Once each Player has decided to Raise or Fold, the Showdown begins.
Players that Played will turn their hands over, revealing their three-card hands. Players are attempting to form the strongest three-card poker hand that they possibly can.
The Dealer will also turn over their cards, and compare their hand to each Player’s one at a time.
- The Dealer must have at least a Queen to qualify.
- If the Dealer does not have a Queen, a higher ranking card, or a non-junk meld, then the Ante wager will push, while the Play/Raise bet will still pay out normally.
In the case of a qualifying Dealer, players who win will receive their full payment for the Ante and Raise bets. Players that lose to a qualifying Dealer will have their Ante and Play wagers taken.
Payouts and Bonuses
There are a number of payout tables associated with Three Card Prime. There is a payout table for the Play bet, as well as the three optional bonuses available to Players at the start of the game.
The Play payout table pays only if Players beat the Dealer with a hand of higher value in the Showdown, or otherwise, the Dealer failed to qualify.
- Players receive a higher payout the stronger the meld formed in the Showdown.
- Players also may receive a payout, even if they lose to the Dealer, with certain melds.
The table is below:
|Meld||Player Win||Player Loss|
|Mini-Royal (J, Q, K Suited)||10x||Not Possible To Lose|
|Flush or Lesser Melds (Pairs, etc)||1x||0 (Loss of Money)|
Notice that the Straight Flush, Three-Kind, and Straight all pay out more when a Player loses to the Dealer. This is because the odds of losing with a Straight Flush, Three-Kind, or Straight are very slim.
Players cannot lose if they have a Mini-Royal, because Players win all ties against the Dealer.
Moving onto the optional Bonuses, players have three to choose from. Money must be placed on these Bonus Wagers before the cards have been dealt.
Firstly, there is the Prime Bonus. The Prime is extremely simple and does not require a table to describe.
The Prime Bonus is based only on the suits of the Player’s cards, and the Dealer’s cards.
- If the Player’s cards are all the same color (♥ and ♦ or ♠ and ♥) Players win 3x their wager on the Prime bet.
- If all Six of the Player and Dealer’s cards are the same color, then Players win 4x their wager.
Next comes the Pair Bonus. The rules for the Pair Bonus are a bit more complicated than the Prime Bonus. The Pair Bonus has a two-pronged system for determining the Player’s payout.
After the Wager has been made, players must be dealt a pair or better. If that happens, then in the Showdown, the Dealer will deal an additional card to the betting Player.
Players are then paid according to the meld they formed and the 4th card. If that 4th card is a 2, then the Player’s bonus return is increased.
|Meld||Bonus Card Not 2||Bonus Card Is 2|
All 6 Bonus
The final Bonus is the All 6 Bonus. Players use their three cards, as well as the Dealer’s three cards (“All 6 Cards”) to form the best five-card Poker hand that they possibly can.
All of the optional bonuses will still pay out, even if Players lose in the Showdown. The Play bonus only pays if the Player wins or ties in the Showdown, or if the Dealer fails to qualify.
Three Card Prime Rules
A short summary of the rules can be found below:
- Players must make their Ante wager before cards will be dealt.
- Players win all ties against the Dealer. If the Player and Dealer have the same meld, with the same kicker, the Player wins.
- Players compare their hand against the Dealer’s using the modified Poker hierarchy demonstrated by the Pair Bonus.
Suppose that you have the following three-card hand:
6♠ 5♣ 6♣
Supposing that you paid into the Prime bonus, you automatically win a 3x wager for achieving three black cards, without even seeing the Dealer’s.
Further, a pair of 6s is a decently strong hand. The Dealer only needs a Queen to qualify, meaning there are many hand combinations that the Dealer could have that would lose to your pair of 6s.
Further, if you participated in the Pair Bonus, you also won an additional wager from the pair of 6s.
Comparing against the Dealer is less risky, than in other Table-Comparing games. Playing with a pair is usually recommended.
Strategy and Tips
As is the usual suggestion for table-comparing games played in the casino, avoid the Bonuses.
The Prime Bonus is the least terrible of the three bonus options, and even then the odds of it payout out are about 12%.
This means you would need to play about 5-8 games in order to receive an expected payout of about 3x the wager. You’re “buying” 5-8 games to “win” 3 games worth of payments. Obviously, that’s not in your favor.
Always fold if you do not have at least a Queen or better in Three Card Prime.
Generally, you should fold if your hand is junked without even a pair meld, but especially if you don’t even have a Queen.
This is because the Dealer must qualify with at least a Queen, meaning if you don’t have a Queen you cannot possibly beat the Dealer in any circumstance.