How to Play 3-Card Brag: A Beginner's Guide

3 card brag

If you are looking for an easy casino card game to play, then you must learn how to play 3-card Brag. This fast-paced video poker variant is a great option - especially after Playtech launched it online.

3-card Brag is a simple video poker game to play in card rooms around the world or at your favorite online casino. You only need to know the game's rules and how to play before you start.

Don't let this put you off. Learning how to play 3-card Brag isn't difficult at all, and this guide for beginners covers all you need to know about the game.

Here's everything you'll find in this article about the 3-card Brag game.

  1. What is three-card Brag
  2. How to play three-card Brag
  3. Hand ranks and payouts
  4. Tips to get better chances
  5. Where to play three-card Brag online

What is 3-Card Brag?

playing cards

While you might not have heard a lot about this game, three-card Brag is not a new entry in the gambling world.

The game of 3-card Brag has been around since the 18th century, when it was considered to be one of the most popular British card games.

According to 'The Hand-Book of Games, a book published in London in 1867 by H.G. Bohn, three-card Brag was the third most played card game in Great Britain.

The version of Brag we play today (three-card Brag) is a modern evolution of the traditional game that comes with a simplified set of rules and gameplay.

In the original game, which is slightly different from the one you find online today, players played 3 Card Brag against each other.

Play 3-Card Brag Online!

Register a free gaming account to play the best games of 3-Card Brag online.

Start from the free games or claim your bonus to access the real money games!

How to Play 3-Card Brag

3 card brag table
A 3-Card Brag table.

When a game of 3-Card Brag begins, each player in the hand receives three cards face-down (hence the name) and needs to bet or fold based on the quality of their hand.

The betting continues until only two players remain. When this happens, the game ends in a showdown with the player holding the best hand winning the pot.

If you are wondering where the 'brag' part of the game's name comes from, that's because you probably haven't played it yet.

Bluffing is a crucial part of a game of 3-Card Brag.

While a good hand is the easiest way to secure a victory, a good way to play 3-Card Brag is to bluff all the way to the showdown and mislead the other players into thinking that you have better cards than you actually do.

As a poker player would put it, 'if you can't hold'em…get them to fold'em.'

Brand new to video poker? Check out our specialist beginner's guide to Video Poker, which will teach you all the basics you need to know!

Setting Up a Game of 3 Card Brag

The classic gameplay changes a bit when the game moves to casinos — especially if you approach it at any of the gaming sites that offer 3-card Brag online.

At the casino, you no longer play with other players, but you engage in a solitary battle against the dealer.

This limits your possibility to bluff your way to a big win and influences the range of poker hands you should consider investing your money in.

On the flip side, playing 3-card Brag with the dealer means you won't be bluffed by other players. Dealers never bluff.

But you won't be able to bluff your way out of a bad hand.

3 Card Brag Rules

To play a game of three-card Brag, you need only one standard 52-card deck of French cards.

The Ante Bet

As the game begins, all the players who want to be included in the hand need to place an initial bet on the table. This bet is called the 'Ante.'

  • How much is the Ante bet? The size of the Ante bet is always specified in the table's rules. If you are uncertain, always ask the dealer before you sit to play.

The Deal

As soon as it's clear who is in the hand and who is playing, the dealer distributes three cards to each player.

The Betting

At this point, you have two options to continue:

  • Play
  • Fold

Only choose to play when you think your hand is good enough to give you some good winning chances.

When you continue to play the hand, you need to place a bet of the same size as your Ante. If your Ante was $1, your play bet will be again $1.

If you don't think your hand is strong enough to win, you should fold and leave the hand. In this case, you do not need to invest more money in the game — you only lose your Ante bet.

The Showdown

The official rules of three-card Brag include only one betting round - so you need to decide if you want to play only once.

If you placed your 'play' bet to continue the game, you then access the showdown and see the dealer's cards.

Here's when you find out if your hand holds and leads you to a win — or if you need to hand all your chips to the dealer.

The Dealer's Hand

Like in most casino poker games Caribbean Stud Poker and Casino Hold'em, for the game to play out, the dealer needs to qualify.

In 3-card Brag, the dealer qualifies only with a Queen high or better. Keeping this in mind, your 'play' bet can lead to four different scenarios.

The table below is a simple way to remember how to play three-card Brag when you get to the showdown.

Dealer qualifiesStrongest HandWhat Happens
NoUnimportantIt's a 'push' - you get your money back and your ante is paid 1-to-1
YesYour hand winsYou win both the ante and the play bets
YesDealer's hand winsYou lose both the ante and the play bets
YesYou have the same handBoth your play and ante bets are a push

3 Card Brag Hand Ranks and Payouts

Having a better hand than the dealer's is crucial to beating the game, but what does it mean to have a higher hand in 3 card Brag?

In layman's terms, your hand needs to be higher in rank than your opponent's hand.

To simplify this even further, here's are all the 3 card Brag hands in order of strength - from the best ones to the lowest in value:

Prial (Three-of-a-Kind)3x3x3x
Running Flush (Straight Flush)456
Run (Straight)456

Wondering what are the differences between three-card poker and 3-card brag?

Check out our complete guide to 3 Card Poker, which will explain all the differences!

As you can see from the hand ranking, the points in 3-card Brag are calculated like in most poker games. The biggest difference here concerns your odds of building a winning hand.

Since you get only three cards, your chances to hit a flush or a three-of-a-kind are completely different from, say, a game of Texas hold'em poker.

Also, the names of the hands change too.

When you landed Ax2x3x, you don't have a straight — you have a 'Run'.

And the same happens when the three consecutive cards are of the same suit, as what you are used to calling 'straight flush' is a 'running flush'.

As you might have noticed, the three-of-a-kind comes under a different name, as the best hand in three-card Brag is called 'Prial.'

  • 3x3x3x is the Highest Prial, the best combination you can have in a game of three-card Brag
  • The second-best Prial is AxAxAx

The Payouts in 3 Card Brag

How does it all pay out?

In the vast majority of games, the 'Ante' and the 'Play' bets pay 1-to-1.

In some circumstances, however, you can win more than that and bring home some chips even if you lose the play bet.

If you are lucky enough to hold one of the top hands in the game (a Run or better), you can win an extra bonus for your ante bet, even if your hand is lower than the dealer's.

Here's how it works:

Your HandAnte Bonus Payout
Prial5 to 1
Running Flush4 to 1
Run1 to 1

The Pair Bonus Side Bet in 3 Card Brag

Generally speaking, side bets in casino games are never a good choice.

They come with terrible winning odds, and no proper gambler would consider investing their chips on them.

But we have all been there, and when the Ante is low is hard not to be seduced by the temptation of a side bet.

When you play a game of 3-card Brag, you can invest your chips also on a Pair Bonus side bet.

This optional bet gives you an extra win if your hand is a pair or better. Since the bet isn't connected to the dealer's hand, you can win the Pair Bonus even if you lose your play bet.

When it comes to the official payouts, here's how much you can win off a successful Pair Bonus bet.

Your HandPair Bonus Payout
Prial40 to 1
Running Flush30 to 1
Run6 to 1
Flush4 to 1
Pair1 to 1

How to Get Better Chances to Win at 3 Card Brag Games

Ask experienced gamblers how to win at casino games and get ready to hear the same answer all over again:

"To become a winning player, you need to have a good video poker strategy, and you need to practice your games a lot before you play with big bets or real money."

To win at 3-card Brag, you need luck.

You need to:

  • Learn the basic 3-card Brag strategy (it's super easy)
  • Practice games for free to learn how to play 3-Card Brag
  • Get some bonuses to test your first real-money games

There's no other way to succeed.

Play 3-Card Brag Online!

Register a free gaming account to play the best games of three-card Brag online.

Start from the free games or claim your bonus to access the real money games!

3 Card Brag Strategy

The best strategy to have better chances to win at three-card Brag is so simple that you only need to remember one hand: - Qx6x4x.

If your hand is equal or higher, always place the play bet. If it is not, always fold.

How does it work?

The game plays out only when the dealer qualifies. And that happens only if they have at least a Qx.

Naturally, you won't win if you have anything less.

Why the extra 6x and 4x? With that or higher, you have the highest chance to beat the dealer's Queen high or tie with it.

Best Sites to Play 3 Card Brag Online FREE or for Real Money

3-card Brag may be one of the oldest casino games and video poker variants out there — but that doesn't mean it did not find its way through to land in the world of online casinos.

Back in January 2019, Playtech released an exceptionally good version of the game - bringing back Britain's most popular card game.

All the gaming sites listed below offer games of three-card Brag online. If you really want to learn how to play 3-card Brag, check them out.

You can play 3-card Brag for free (by far the best way to begin with this game), or you can use one of the bonuses you see to play for real money.

3 Card Brag FAQs

How do you play 3-Card Brag?

3-Card Brag is played with a standard 52-card deck. Each player is dealt three cards, and the goal is to have the best hand.

What are the hand rankings in 3 card brag?

The ranking of hands, from highest to lowest, is Prial (three of a kind), Running Flush (three consecutive cards of the same suit), Run (three consecutive cards), Flush (three cards of the same suit), Pair (two cards of the same rank), and High Card.

What is the best hand in 3 Card Brag?

The Prial (three of a kind) is the best hand in 3 Card Brag.
Look at the hands ranking and the names of the hands. The best hand in three-card Brag is the Prial, not the Straight Flush.

How are bets placed in 3-Card Brag?

Players place bets or "stakes" into a common pot. The player with the best hand at the end of the round wins the pot. Betting can happen in several rounds, with players having the option to check, raise, or fold in each round.

Is there a fixed order for betting in 3-Card Brag?

Yes, there is a specific order for betting. It typically starts with the player to the dealer's left and then goes clockwise around the table. Each player can choose to either check (pass the action), bet (place a wager) or fold (discard their hand and forfeit the round).

Can you bluff in 3-Card Brag?

Yes, you can bluff in 3-Card Brag. Players can try to mislead their opponents by betting confidently, even if they have a weaker hand. Bluffing can be an effective way to win pots with less favorable hands.

What happens in case of a tie in 3-Card Brag?

In case of a tie, the pot is usually split equally among the tied players.

How do you win a game of 3-Card Brag?

To win a game of 3-card Brag, a player must accumulate chips or money by winning pots. The game can be played over multiple rounds, and the player with the most chips at the end of the agreed-upon number of rounds or when other players decide to quit is the winner.

Is 3-Card Brag the same as 3-Card Poker?

No, 3-Card Brag is not the same as 3 Card Poker. While they share similarities, they are distinct games with different rules and strategies.

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Casino Content Executive

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