Home Page
What's New
Home Poker Guide
Tournament Guide
Internet Poker
Etiquette & Rules
High-Low Poker
Draw Poker Games
Hold' em Games
Omaha Games
Stud Poker Games
Wild Card Games
Other Games
Poker Resources
Articles & Reviews
About HPE
Contact HPE


How to Play 3 Card Drop Poker


3 Card Drop Poker- Long Version: A three card poker game. Each player is dealt 3 down cards. There is an initial ante, but no further betting. There is no draw; there are no common cards. The best 3 card hand wins with this low to high ranking: high card, pair, flush, straight, trips, straight flush (why is straight ranked higher than flush? See the probabilities of 3 card poker at the bottom of this page.) After receiving and looking at cards each player must decide if they wish to drop out or stay in game. This is done by all players simultaneously declaring in or drop by means of chips: no chip in hand = drop. One chip in hand = play. Here is what happens after declaration:

Summary of action:
All players ante.
Deal 3 hole cards to each player.
Simultaneous declaration: "in" or "drop"
If only 1 player declares "in" that player wins the pot. The game is over.
If no players declare "in" replay the game. All players ante again.
If 2 or more players declare "in" showdown hands.
Best 3 card hand wins the pot.
Losing hands match the pot.
Replay game. All players ante again.

Other variations of 3 Card Drop are described at the bottom of this page.

Playing Tips for 3 Card Drop Poker


There is not a lot of strategy for playing 3 Card Drop poker. There is no betting, no drawing, no exposed cards. There is nothing to get a read on the strength or weakness of your opponents. You have your cards and you either play them or not. Non-playable hands should be obvious. How strong a hand you think you need to play is your big decision. You should decide what you consider to be the mimimum hand you will declare "in" with ahead of time, and stick with it. Apart from factoring in your own style of play, you need to know your opponents to help you with that decision. Where are they on the risk taking scale? Where are you? It then becomes basically a risk to benefit decision. You'll need to know the probabilities of being dealt various hands, so review the 3 card poker probabilities chart at the bottom of this page.

There are 2 key elements to 3 Card Drop that you absolutely must consider beforehand:
1. The game does not end until only one player declares "in".
2. As the game keeps repeating the pot keeps increasing.
There is the potential to create huge pots and win or lose sums well beyond your normal limits or expectations and comfort levels. There is also the potential for a lot of tension and ill-will between players when a losing player must pay an unusually large sum into a pot. This is not a game for the faint of heart. You can limit the pots by reducing the additional antes to a fraction of the initial ante, eliminating re-antes altogether after a few rounds and by exempting a loser from also having to make a re-ante. You may also wish to place a maximum cap on the amount losers must pay.

When there is a lot of money in the pot it may occur to you that the other players will be reluctant to remain in the game and that you will be able to steal the pot with any hand just by having the nerve to declare "in". This is a risky idea!  You need to take at least 3 things into consideration: the other players tendencies, will this same idea occur to them and will they get dealt a hand that's actually strong enough to play? You only have an idea of the first two factors. Even the most timid player could be dealt a strong hand and if they are you're beaten badly. If you are against another risk taker you might barely beat them, but you may just as easily lose to only a marginally better hand. When the "ghost hand" version of the game is used (see below), additional risk is added making this tactic far less desirable to attempt.

3 Card Poker Hand Probabilities


There is one other very important detail you should make sure is worked out before you play 3 card drop poker. That is the matter of the ranking of straights and flushes. In every 5 card version of poker a flush beats a straight. That's because it is mathematically harder to get a flush than a straight with 5 cards. But, the mathematical fact of 3 card poker is that it is harder to get a straight than a flush, so technically, their ranking should be reversed. If you are going to rank them that way you better make sure everyone is well aware of it beforehand. If not, when a player with a flush goes against a player with a straight it is very likely to result in a big argument. An alternative method of dealing with this problem is to ignore straights, flushes and straight flushes in the hand rankings. Instead just use: high card (s), pair and trips.

3 Card HandPercent ProbabilityOdds ProbabilityThis hand or better
Straight Flush0.22%454:1
3 of a Kind0.24%416:10.46%

Other Variations of 3 Card Drop Poker


Here are some other ways to play 3 Card Drop Poker:

3 Card Drop - Short Version: This version of 3 card drop will result in a quicker game, smaller pots and reduced likelihood that it will cost the loser(s) a lot of money. As in the long version, when only 1 player declares "in" they win the entire pot and when no one declares in the players re-ante and play again. However, when more than 1 player declares in the winner takes the pot plus each loser must match the pot and pay it to the winner. The game then ends.

3 Card Drop with Ghost Hand: Play exactly like 3 card drop, but deal an additional hand to a "ghost" player. The "ghost" hand is only revealed when just one player declares "in". When that occurs, the "ghost" hand is exposed. The "in" player's hand must beat the ghost hand in order to win to pot. If it does not, that player must pay the pot and the game continues. May be played as either long or short version.

3 Card Drop with Draw: Played exactly like 3 Card Drop, but each player may draw up to 2 cards before the declaration. A round of betting occurs before drawing cards. Expect to need higher ranked hands to win. May be played as either long or short version.