3 card Brag used to be popular in the gaming clubs before the advent of true casinos and the television coverage that has made poker so popular but it is till a great game involving all the bluffing elements of poker but there are limits on the number and size of gambling rounds which means you cannot be taken to the cleaners with an “all-in” as you can in poker. The game has its origins in the 16th century and is still extremely popular in India and Nepal where it is known as Teen Patti which is supposedly the translation of three cards in Hindi; it is also supposed to be very popular amongst the travelling showmen of the fairgrounds although we cannot vouch for that. We do know that it was played in the film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels without fixed table stakes so it is still alive and well and worth a try if you like casino gambling card games. The game is played with 3 cards as the name suggests and there is an opportunity to change as many cards as you like during the game and what can make it even more interesting is the opportunity to play without having seen your cards which is known as playing blind.
The game starts with the player to the left of the dealer placing a “small blind” bet as is the case in poker. The size of the small blind bet is determined by the table stakes so if you are playing at a €5-€10 table the small blind will be €5. The next player round in a clockwise direction will place the “big blind” bet which in the above example is €10. 3 cards are then dealt to each player face down (obviously in an online casino your cards will be face up but you will not be able to see any other players cards) and starting from the player to the left of the big blind each player will look at his cards and decide what to do based on the strength of the hand. The options are:-
– Discard the hand,
Many players will never discard the hand at this stage as they have the chance to change cards later in the hand even to the extent of changing all 3. A call is to place a bet equivalent to the big blind which keeps you in the game. A raise is always the vale of the big blind so in the above example somebody raising would have to put in €20 being the €10 for the big blind and the €10 raise.
There is a third alternative at this stage and that is to play “blind”. You can only play blind if you have not touched your cards. Playing blind means that you can play for half the regular stakes so in the above example if you decided to play blind you would simply place your bet of €5 into the pot, or if you are following a player who has raised, you would place €10 into the pot instead of the normal €20. A player playing blind can only fold or call, they cannot raise. A player playing blind can look at their cards at any time but they are then considered as regular players.
Each player in turn will either fold, call or raise until each remaining player has placed equal amounts into the pot. There can only be three raises in total in this round each of which is equivalent to the big blind so the maximum you can stake in this round is four times the big blind. This situation will usually only arise when two players have strong hands although there can be bluffing going on.
Once all remaining players have placed equal amounts there is the “draw”. The draw enables each player in turn to exchange as many cards as they wish but beware because your opponents will know how many cards you have changed. After the draw there is another gambling round which follows exactly the same rules as the first round. Playing blind is in theory still an option but in fact will never happen as it means either you have not exchanged any cards or you have exchanged them blind which is very pointless.
After each remaining player has placed equal amounts into the pot the cards are turned and the player with the best hand wins. Folding at any stage in the game means losing the money you have placed into the pot during that hand as in poker. We should mention that these rules are for the multi player game where you are playing against other players and not against the dealer. There is another version of the game in which you are playing head to head against the dealer but this is much simpler with no changing of cards and limited gambling opportunities. The multi player game is the one to play.
The lowest hand in 3 card brag gambling is a “High Card” of which the Ace is the highest; in the case of players having an equal high first card then the second highest card will count. Next in order of importance is the “Pair” which is two cards of equal value of any suit or colour; the highest pair is aces and the lowest pair is twos. In the unlikely event of two players having equal pairs the third card will determine the winner. After a pair comes the “Flush”. A flush is three cards of the same suit but of any value; the highest flush is Ace, King, Jack. The value of the highest card in the flush determines the value or if two players have an equal highest card in the flush the value of the second highest card will count.
The next highest hand is the “Run”. A Run is any three consecutive cards of any colour or suit. Note that in 3 card brag the highest run is Ace, Two, Three and that Ace, King, Queen is only the second highest run. Next most important hand is the “Running Flush” which is the same as a run except that all cards are the same suit and agin the highest running flush is Ace,Two,Three followed by Ace, King, Queen.
Finally the very best hand in 3 card brag is the “Prial”. A prial is three cards of the same value and the highest prial in 3 card brag is “threes” followed by Aces etc.
3 card brag is a great alternative to poker if you enjoy the cut and thrust of playing against other players.