First, each player makes a bet and then everyone gets three cards face down. There is then a round of betting that starts to the left of the dealer. Every player can either bet or fold. You must either contribute at least the amount of the previous bet.
This betting continues until there are only two players left. Then either player may double the previous bet to see their opponent’s hand. After this, the two hands are revealed, and the player with the better hand takes all the money. If there is a tie, the player who is seeing loses.
Now let us understand how the cards are valued.
You can, for example, have three cards with the same number value, three sevens or three Kings, and so on. You can get a Straight Flush– which means you have three successive cards of the same color and suit, or you can have simple Straight or Run– three successive cards in numbers, but of different colors.
Another possible combination is Flush, where you have three cards of the same suit, for example three spade cards. Among your three cards you can have a pair, or you can have a high card.
Of course, the best “prial” is 3-3-3, followed by the usual order of A-A-A, K-K-K, Q-Q-Q, etc.
The flushes, pairs, and high cards have rankings identical to poker (aces high).
Mathematically, a pair will beat three-quarters of hands, but you must watch out for unexpected runs and flushes. Prials and running flushes are extremely rare but are more common in versions of the game in which a hand is chosen from more than three cards.
Therefore, you could see that this game is quite similar to Poker, or more precisely to Three-Card Poker.
Unlike in other forms of poker, a run beats a flush.
Another possible option, which makes things more interesting, is playing blind. This means players can bet without looking at their cards.
If you wish to play blind, this means that each of your bets will cost half the amount of the standard non-blind bet. You can check your cards in your hand at any point, but then you will no longer be considered a blind player. Then you will be subject to the standard bets.
Another rule for playing bling is that if all other players fold, you are not going to win the pot. Instead the pot carries over to the next game and you can keep your current hand.
When the next deal takes place, you can then decide whether to play with your new hand or keep your old one.
At any time, a player with two blind hands may look at one of them and decide whether to keep it or discard it.
If he or she keeps it, he or she throws away the other hand and is considered open. If he or she throws it away, he or she keeps the other hand and is still blind.
If everyone folds to a blind player with two hands, he must throw away one without looking. As with many rules in card games, regional differences apply to this rule.
Again, another unusual custom of Brag is that the deck is rarely shuffled. Unless a hand is seen and won by a prial, the cards from the hand are just placed on the bottom of the deck, and the next hand is dealt without shuffling.
So, once again, let us see the hand rankings listed from best to worst. Hand rankings in Three Card Brag are slightly different to classic poker, and come with some different terminologies. The potential hands are listed below in value from best to worst, along with their odds:
- Prial (three of a kind) – odds of 459 to 1
- Running Flush (straight flush) – odds of 459 to 1
- Run (straight) – odds of 31 to 1
- Flush – odds of 20 to 1
- Pair – odds of 1 to 6
- High Card – odds of 3 to 1
The best possible hand you can get is a Prial consisting of three threes (which comes with odds of 5,524 to 1), although all other Prial hands rank in regular order descending from three Aces to three twos.
The fact that the cards in Three Card Brag are rarely shuffled can help you in certain ways. If you are astute enough and familiar with the concept, you can apply card counting then.
Another possible strategy suggests that players should really embrace the concept of bluffing. Bluffing is not only a fun element of the game, but it also increases your chances since playing strictly by the odds is not very profitable.
Playing blind is among the best strategies, but it is to be done by more experienced players. You should make sure you are financially prepared and have some experience in this kind of gambling.