Three Card Stud Rules

By Alan Donahue

Casinos are full of table games that entice players to put their money on the line in a game of chance against the dealer. While some games are complicated to play and understand, one of the easiest games to play is three card stud. Also referred to as tri-card poker, three card stud is available at most casinos and players play directly against the dealer in this heads-up game. Once you learn the game and master the technique, try it out at a free digital casino or head to real casino to play for money.


A player pays an ante and is dealt three cards. Any other players and the dealer are dealt three cards as well. Each player looks at his own cards; the dealer's card stay face down until the end of the hand. Players then decide to call or fold the hand. In order to call the hand, a player must match his ante bet. If a player folds, he automatically loses his ante. For example, if a player antes $5, he would have to match the ante, adding another $5 for a total of $10 at stake. If the player folds he loses the $5. Once the decision is made, the dealer shows his hand and a winner is declared.

Hand Rules

Three card stud has rules similar to poker. The worst hand is a hand in which there is only a high card, meaning that all three cards are are different values and suits. The next highest hand is a pair, in which two of the three cards have the same value (or symbol, as in the case of face cards). The next highest hand is a flush, in which all of the cards are of the same suit. The next highest is a straight, in which the three cards are consecutive, such as ace, two, three, or five, six, seven. Three of a kind is the next highest--all three cards are the same value--for example, three kings or three fours. The straight flush is the highest hand--the cards are consecutive and in the same suit, such as the eight, nine and ten of diamonds. Three of kind beats a flush and a straight because it is less common when only three cards are dealt. The best hand in three card stud is ace, king, queen with matching suits. The worst hand is two, three and five with different suits.


In order to win, a player must have a better hand than the dealer. If the dealer does not have a queen or higher in his hand, he does not qualify for the win. This means that a player will win a match bet for his ante, but he will have his raise returned. If the dealer does have a queen or higher and still loses, the winning player is awarded with even payouts and possible bonus payouts. Payouts vary by casino but a straight, three of a kind and flush pay out a 3 to 1 bonus on average. If the dealer has a better hand, the player loses all his money in play.

Pair Plus

Players also have the option of placing a bet on "Pair Plus" before the hand starts. A pair plus is a single bet that cannot be added to or changed once a hand starts. If a player receives a pair or higher, then he receives a bonus on his "Pair Plus" bet. If he does not get a pair or higher, the dealer is awarded with the "Pair Plus" bet.


In order to get the most out of your money, you should play most hands with a queen or a higher. There will always be bad bets in poker, but the odds are with you when you play more hands rather than folding them. Practice will help you improve your game, but remember that it is often based on luck and anything can happen.

About the Author

I have a lot fo writing experience other than and that includes my college newspaper, the Rebel Yell, where I wrote mostly television and movie articles.