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Learn How to Play 3 Card Brag



Three-card Brag is one of the easiest casino card games that you can play. You can play this game in physical casinos as well as live online casinos. You can join different card rooms to simple video poker games in your favourite casinos. 

But before you start, it is important to know how to play this game, its basic rules and how you can increase your chances of winning!

The Basics of Three-Card Brag

The 3 cards game has been around since the 18th century. According to the “The Hand-Book of Games” published in 1867 by H.G.Bohn, it was the third-most popular card game in Great Britain. This card game is a descendant of the Spanish game known as Primero. It is similar to Teen Patti (literally translated to three cards in Hindi) and is quite popular in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Trinidad. 

In present times, we play the modern version of Brags known as the Three-Card Brag which has a simplified set of rules and gameplay. The original version of this game, the Classic Brag, was played slightly. 

This game is usually played among 4-8 players with a 52-card deck. The objective of the three card games is to win the money in the pot by remaining in the hand and/or having the highest-ranking hand. 

How to Play Three-Card Brag?

Each player receives three cards face down and needs to bet or fold to qualify their hand. The betting continues until two players remain. When this happens, the game ends in a showdown with the player holding the best hand and winning the pot. 

Bluffing is a critical part of this game. This is because a good hand can secure your victory and to make this happen, you need to bluff to the showdown to mislead the other players into thinking they have better cards than you do. Follow the bluff rules in cards to increase your winning chances. 

There are many variations of brags which use anywhere between 4 and 13 cards, although the process of playing 6, 7, 9 and 13 brags is different. 

Before starting the three play card game, all players must agree on:

  • The amount of the initial stake or the ante which is a forced bet each player must make before each deal.
  • Minimum and maximum amount of bets, where a bet the first player must make to stay in the hand.
  • The limit on how much bets can be raised. 
  • Any change or variation on the traditional rules.

What are the 3 Card Game Rules?

Having a fair understanding of the card 3 rules and its terminology is critical to play the game strategically.  

  • The Ante

At the beginning of the 3-cards Brag game, all the players who want to be included in the hand need to place an initial bet on the pot. This bet is known as Ante. The size of this bet is always specific according to the rules of the table. If you are uncertain about the number, you can always ask the dealer before you begin playing. 

  • The Deal

After it is clear who is in the hand and who is playing, the dealer distributes the cards. In a game, each person is dealt 3 cards face down. The cards are given out one at a time and need to remain a secret from the other players. The only exception to this rule is in the betting round which ends if it ends with a “see.” The deal and the play pass in a clockwise direction, therefore, the deal passes to the left with each hand.

Before the first deal, the dealer shuffles the card. Later in the game, the cards are only shuffled if the last hand is seen and is won by a Prial. However, for the most part, the cards are not shuffled between hands. 

  • Betting

After the cards are dealt, the betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Here, the first bettor has two options- to fold or bet and play. 

When you fold, that means you throw down your cards and sacrifice the Ante to the pot. Alternatively, you can bet anywhere between the minimum and maximum amount and continue playing. However, you should only choose to play if you think your hand is good enough to give you winning chances. 

If you decide to play the hand, you must place a bet of the same size as your Ante. So, if your Ante was $1, your play bet will be again at $1. If you do not think your hand is strong enough, you should fold and leave the hand. In this case, you do not need to invest more money in the game as you only lose your Ante bet. 

According to the 3 cards game rules, if a player bets, the following players must either fold or make a minimum bet equal to the previous bet. The players can also raise the bet, but the limit should be decided upon mutually by all the players. 

In case there are only two players left in the game and all others have folded, there is another option players can use. The players left can see the other’s cards. However, you need to pay twice the bet amount of the previous. 

If you pay to see another player’s cards, they may expose their hand first. If your hand is better than your opponents, expose it and collect your winnings in the pot. If your hand is worse or equal to our opponent’s, you may choose to not reveal your hand but they win the pot. It is important to remember that if the hands are equal, the player who paid to see the card, loses the hand. 

The betting does not end until all but one player drops out there are two players left and one pays to see the other. For example, in a four-player game, the betting may work as:

  • Player 1 bets 4 chips
  • Player 2 bets 4 chips
  • Player 3 folds
  • Player 4 bets 4 chips. 

Here, Player 1 must bet at least 4 chips to stay in the hand. As a rule of etiquette, it is crucial to never fold out of turn. 

  • Running Out of Money 

In gambling games with cards, table stakes are quite common. In 3-card Brag, table stakes are not common like that of Poker. Table stakes refer to all players keeping all the money they are playing without on the table. In Brag, players keep much of their money in their pockets. However, there is usually a minimum amount the players must have on the table. 

In case you do not have enough money to bet but want to stay in the hm you may cover the pot by betting all the money you have. You put this amount in the pot and place your cards face down the top. The players continue the game as normal but now place their bets in a new pot. 

After the new pot is square, the winning hand is exposed. The hand covering the pot is compared with the winning hand and the old pot is won by the higher-ranking hand. If there is a tie of the hands, the winner of the new pot wins the old pot as well.

Covering the pot can be done when there are only two players left in the hand. If this process is done, then the betting round ends. So, some players practise that if there are two players left and one runs out of money, the other must borrow money to bet or show their cards to potentially win the pot.

  • The Showdown

As per the 3 card rules, you need to decide if you want to play only once. If you place your play bet to continue the game, you access the showdown and see the dealer’s cards. Here, you can 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

For many Casino poker games like the Casino Hold’em and Caribbean Stud Poker to play out, the dealer needs to qualify. In the 3-card Brag, the dealer qualifies only with a Queen high or better. By keeping this in mind, your play bet can lead to four different scenarios in the showdown:

Scenario 1Scenario 2Scenario 3Scenario 4
Dealer QualifiesNoYesYesYes
Strongest HandNot important Your hand winsThe dealer’s hand winsYou have the same hand
What HappensIt’s a push and you get your money back and your Ante is paid 1-to-1You win both the Ante and the play betsYou lose both the Ante and play betsBoth your Play and Ante bets are a push
  • Playing Blind

Any player can choose to play blind. Here, you do not look at your cards and keep them on the table, face down. A blind player bets normally but their bets are worth double the amount. So, they only have to bet half the minimum or previous bet of an open player. 

If you are playing blind on a hand, when it is your turn to bet, you always have the option of looking at your cards before you decide to bet or fold. If you decide to look, then you become an open player and must be equal to other open players to remain in the hand. You may not revert to blind on that hand. 

In the event, you are playing blind and all other players fold, you do not win the pot as it continues to the next hand. 

Understanding Hand Ranks and Payouts

To play the three cards gambling games successfully, you need to be aware of the three cards rules regarding the hand rankings as well as how the payouts happen. This is because the higher your hand ranking is as compared to your opponent, the more you have the opportunity to win the game. 

Hand Ranks

Let’s understand the 3 cards Brag hands in order of their strength- from the highest to the lowest in value:

  • Prial

The prial is the best hand combination you can have in a game of 3-cards Brag. Prial stands for pair royal where three-of-kind cards of equal rank make a hand. For example, K-K-K makes the highest prial whereas A-A-A makes the second best prial. 

  • Running Flush

Also known as Straight Flush, you can make a running flush by combining three cards in a sequence of the same suit. In this game A is the ranking card, therefore, A-2-3 is a viable run and is of the highest order followed by A-K-Q which is the second-highest run. However, 2-A-K is not a valid flush or run. 

  • Run

This hand is quite similar to a running flush. Also known as Straight, the only difference is you have to make a sequence of cards, however, it can be of any suit. Running flushes beat all runs. 

  • Flush

You form a flush when you make a combination of three cards of the same suit. These cards do not need to be in a sequence but should be of the same suit. For instance, 3-6-9 of Spades form a flush. 

  • Pair

A pair is a hand which you can make by combining two cards of equal rank along with a third card. Therefore, 3-3-Q makes a pair hand. 

  • High Card

A card hand that does not form any of the above combinations relies on the high card, the highest-ranking card. For example, in a combination of 3-7-K, K is the high card. 


In the majority of the games, the Ante and the Play bets pay 1-to-1. However, in some circumstances, you can win more and bring home chips even if you lose the play bet. 

If you 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 is how this works:

Your Hand Ante Bonus Payout
Prial5 to 1
Running Flush4 to 1
Run1 to 1

What Card Hand  Leads to a Pair Bonus Side Bet?

It is best to avoid side bets in casino games as they come with terrible winning odds. In cases where the Ante is low, you can invest your chips on a Pair Bonus side bet. This gives you an option to win if your hand is a pair or better. As your hand isn’t connected to the dealer’s hand, you can win the Pair Bonus even if you lose the play bet:

Your Hand Ante Bonus Payout
Prial40 to 1
Running Flush30 to 1
Run6 to 1
Flush4 to 1
Pair1 to 1

Variations of 3-Card Brag

Now, let’s check out the different variations of this game:

  • Four-Card Brag

The same rules apply to a 4-card Brag as a 3-card Brag but here players receive four cards as opposed to three. If a player looks at their hand, they need to dispose of one card and make the best three card hand they can. 

In case of a tie between two hands, the fourth card is the decider of the winning hand where the high card wins. If those cards are also equal, then it’s a tie. Blind players keep all your cards on the table and dispose of a card if they decide to look.

  • Five-Card Brag

The game rules for a 5-card brag are the same as 3-card brag. The only difference is players are dealt five cards instead of three. 

  • Seven-Card Brag

In this game, players are dealt seven cards. Players need to choose three cards to play from their hands or make two hands and they can only win successfully if both hands win the pot.

  • Nine-Card Brag

Players are given nine cards in this game where each player needs to make three sets of cards. Four Antes are played, one for each set and a main pot. Each set is played out, usually without further betting. The winner of each set takes one lot of Antes. If a player wins all three sets, they receive the main pot as well, otherwise, it remains for the next hand. 

  • Thirteen-Card Brag

A total of thirteen cards are dealt and each player must choose three cards to play. Players can also choose another variation and create four hands from the thirteen cards. All players can show their best hands followed by the second best hands, and so on, with each winning hand scoring that player’s points. 

Winnings are either a pre-arranged fixed amount from each loser to the winner or paid proportionately to how far they finish behind the winner. If a player wins all four hands in any round, it is said to have “crashed.” This automatically wins the entire game. 

  • Fifteen-Card Brag

Players need to make five three-card tricks from the fifteen cards they are given, Each player must lay their cards down in order of the highest to the lowest. The winner is the one with the most tricks. This version can also be played with ten cards. 

  • Stop the Bus

Three cards are dealt to players along with three face-up communal cards. Players take turns exchanging one or all (but not two) of their cards for any or all of the communal cards. The play continues until one player “sticks” or “knocks,” that is, they put down all cards if they are happy with their hand. All the remaining players then exchange one last time before comparing the hands. The player with the lowest hand is out and loses a life. 

  • Wild Cards

You can also play Braf with wild cards which are referred to as floaters. Players must agree on the details of the wild cards before playing the game. You can choose any card to be a wild card and the hand with the fewer or no wild cards wins the game. 

Best 3 Card Brag Strategy

One of the best strategies is to create a hand of Q-6-4. You can bet if your hand is equal or higher or fold if this is not the game. 

The game plays out when the dealer qualifies. and that happens if they have at least a Q. And if you have a 6 and 4, you get the highest chance to bet the dealer’s Queen or tie with it. 


Thus, by learning the basics of the 3-card Brag along with how you can play the hands, you can increase your chances of winning. Practice playing the game to improve your tactics and strategy so that you can play and win the game for real money.