Playing 3 Card Rummy

3-Card Rummy – sometimes known as Vegas Three-Card Rummy – is a popular casino table game made up of many different casino classics. For example, you have elements of poker, card games, and chance games all rolled into one. It’s an exciting game that’s available at most online casinos. Unfortunately, it’s rarely found at land-based casinos. It takes up significant floor space, so it’s not the most profitable game for land-based casinos.

Unfortunately, given the lack of popularity surrounding 3-Card Rummy, players don’t always know how to play the game. Thankfully, on this page, we’re going to give you a comprehensive overview of the game. We will show you 3-Card Rummy rules, study the bonus bet payout table, and look at how to place a play bet, bonus bet, and more.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the basics.

How to Play: It all Starts with the Ante Bet

3-Card Rummy is usually played with a single deck of cards. There will always be 52 cards in the deck. If you choose to play 3-Card Rummy at a land-based casino, you may find that there are up to eight decks of cards in play. Thankfully, 3-Card Rummy rules are straightforward to follow. The game is relatively easy to understand.

Firstly, you will need to place your ante bet. This is also known as the initial bet. Once you have placed your ante bet, the dealer will deal three cards to you and three to any other players at the table. They will also deal three cards to themselves. All your cards are dealt face-up; the dealer’s cards are dealt face-down. Once you have your three cards, it’s time to analyze your hand. 3-Card Rummy uses a points-based system; you will need to score fewer points than the dealer to win.

Every card in a 3-Card Rummy hand correlates directly to a number. For example, an eight is worth eight points; a six is worth six points, and so on. Aces are always worth one point, and all picture cards (ten, jack, queen, king) are worth ten points.

Let’s look at this example; if you were dealt a hand of 7-2-3, your total hand score would be 12. You may be surprised to learn that a high score in 3-Card Rummy isn’t good. The goal of 3-Card Rummy is to score fewer points than the dealer.

Now, there’s also something called pairs and sets. For example, in our example, if you were dealt a hand that contained two or more cards of the same rank (not the same suit), then the value of the matching cards decreases to zero – something that you don’t see in poker-value-based games.

If your hand includes two or three cards of the same suit and they are both in a sequence, then the value of all three cards drops to zero. Once you’ve analyzed the cards you have been dealt, you will be tasked with making a decision. You can choose to play your hand or throw it away – folding. You will automatically lose your ante bet if you choose not to play your hand. The game will end, and the next hand will begin.

Now, if you choose to go ahead and play your hand, you will need to place a second bet, known as the play bet. The value of the play bet is equal to the ante bet – so if your ante bet is $10 and you want to play your hand, the play bet would cost you an additional $10. Once you decide, the dealer will turn over their cards. The payouts will then be calculated (if your hand is a winning one), and the next round will begin.

Calculating Winning Combinations and Payouts

When playing 3-Card Rummy, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the payouts don’t look great on paper. For example, if you only place an ante bet, and your hand beats the dealer’s, you will be paid out at even money. Or in other words, you will receive a payout of 1/1. This is why most players at the 3-Card Rummy table choose to place the optional bonus bet. This allows you to enjoy much larger payouts – albeit with a higher house edge.

Like in 3-Card Poker, the dealer needs to qualify in 3-Card Rummy. To qualify, the dealer’s hand must total 20 or below. If the dealer fails to qualify, their “play bet” will be a push – regardless of what your hand contains. Your stake will be returned to you, and the hand will automatically end.

There are also some different payout structures in place. For example, if your hand scores 0, your play bet will be paid out at 4/1. If your hand scores between one and five, your play bet will be paid out at 2/1. Finally, if your hand scores between six and 19, your play bet will be paid out at 1/1. Regardless of your hand scoring, the ante will always pay even money if you win the hand.

Optional Bonus Bet

Every version of 3-Card Rummy will give you the option of placing a bonus bet. This is optional, but most players choose to place it as it offers significantly more win potential than just the ante. However, you should be aware that the house edge of the bonus bets can be much higher, often as high as 3.46%.

If you place the optional bonus bets and your hand scores a 12 or below, you will always win. It doesn’t matter what cards the dealer holds.  If your hand scores between 7 and 10, the bonus bet option pays out at 1 to 1. If you score between 1 and 6, you’ll be paid out at 2 to 1, and if you score between 11 and 12, you’ll be paid out at 4 to 1.

If your hand scores 0, your bonus bet will be paid out at a whopping 25/1. The biggest win in 3-Card Rummy is found by placing a bonus bet and getting a hand containing exactly A-2-3, all of the same suit. If you are lucky enough to get this exact hand, your bonus bet will be paid out at 100/1.

3-Card Rummy Strategy

Three Card Rummy is a straightforward game to learn. It’s straightforward to play, and you don’t need to worry much about math or strategy. However, as with most casino table games, there is an essential strategy that you should follow. Doing so will lower the house edge and boost your chances of winning each hand slightly. As a general rule of thumb, you should always play your hand (i.e., put down the “plus bet”) if your hand value totals between zero and 20.

If your hand totals more than 21, you should always fold. While some players think it’s a good idea to take a gamble and hope that the dealer doesn’t qualify, this move rarely pays out. In the long run, it’s a losing play, so don’t be roped into doing it.

Another thing you should be aware of is that while the bonus bet offers some pretty hefty payouts – of up to 100/1 – the house edge of this bet is high. Realistically, you’re hardly ever going to be dealt the required cards to get the 100/1 payout, and most of the time, your bonus bet will end up losing.

It’s OK if you place it occasionally in the hopes of a lucky hand. However, we would recommend against placing this bonus bet frequently. Doing so simply gives the online or land-based casino more chances to win money from you, which is not a positive-EV play in the long run.


Three Card Rummy is a fun, relaxing, and laid-back casino game. While it can be pretty hard to find (as we noted earlier, it’s rarely found in land-based casinos outside of Las Vegas), the low variance nature means it’s rare to go on big downswings. Of course, the other side of the coin is that you rarely have super-hot sessions where you win a lot of money.

If you are a casual gambler looking for a social and easy game to play, it’s perfect. Don’t forget; you can try the game for free at many online casinos! This lets you get a feel for how it works without risking your own money!

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