Three card brag is a classic card game that has been around for centuries and is still enjoyed today, although sometimes it goes by alternative names such as three card poker. It is a classic British game but its appeal now reaches far and wide, with it being especially popular in some parts of Asia. Even if you have never played it before you might have seen it being played in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
The basic rules are fairly simple to pick up, but you can then have a lot of fun learning the subtleties of the game over time and working out how best to play it.
Between 2 and 8 players will typically make up a game of three card brag, while in the online version it is usually just the player and the dealer. To start the action each player places an initial bet and then receives 3 cards, which are given to them face down. At this point the players can look at their own cards, unless they have decided to play blind. The player to the left of the dealer will start off the betting round, with each of the players having to either put down money or else fold.
The betting continues until only two players are left and at this point their hands can be compared to see which one wins. The player who doubles the previous bet sees their opponent’s cards. This means that they can work out whether or not it is in their interests to show their own hand or to fold. At the end of the game the player with the best hand wins everything in the pot. If it is a draw then the player who doubled the last bet in order to see their opponent loses out.
The strongest hand is a three of a kind, which is known as a prial. After this comes the straight flush followed by straight (run), flush, pair and high card. In terms of the prials, the best combination is group of three 3s, with the next best being aces, kings and so on in the usual way.
One of the interesting features of three card brag is that after each hand has been won the cards aren’t shuffled. Instead, they are simply placed on the bottom of the deck. The exception to this rule is when a prial has been dealt. In this case the cards then need to be shuffled.