Have You Played Three-Card Brag Before?

There are dozens of card games available in online casinos and their live counterparts. Blackjack is extremely popular, as is three card poker, but what about brag? Have you played this long-running game?

Brag is a British card game that first appeared in the 18th century. It is a pure gambling game where bluffing is prevalent. Some say brag is the purest form of gambling when it comes to card games.

A book called The Compleat Gamester is where the rules of brag first appeared in print. This was back in 1721, making brag one of the oldest gambling games still played today.

Three-card brag is the most commonly played version of this game. Everyone receives three cards, hence the name, face down. The player then bets or folds based on the quality of their hand. Betting continues until only two players remain, with the game ending with a showdown. You win the pot by having the best hand at showdown or by forcing your final opponent to fold.

Three-Card Brag Hand Rankings

The hand rankings for three-card brag are similar to the traditional poker hands, but with some variation.

A straight flush is the strongest hand, but also the rarest. Three of a kind is the next strongest holdings, which is known as a prial. It gets this name from “pair royal”. Three sixes would be a prial of sixes, for example. Three threes is the best prial followed by three aces.

A straight beats a flush which beats a pair. High card is lowest holding and you’ll hardly ever win with this, although you can bluff your way to victory!

There are 22,100 possible hands and they are displayed in the table below.

Rank Description Frequency Probability
Straight flush Three suited cards in sequence 48 0.22%
Prial or three of a kind Three suited cards of same rank 52 0.24%
Straight Three cards in sequence 720 3.26%
Flush Three suited cards 1,096 4.96%
Pair Two cards of same rank 3,744 16.94%
High card None of the above 16,440 74.39%

Although we’ve listed straight flush, three-card brag players call this a running flush. A straight has a different name too. It is called a run.

It is worth noting that some rule variations for wild cards in the deck. The jack of clubs is a common wild card in three-card blag. Some variants allow the nine of diamonds to be wild. Wilds substitute for any card in the deck, even if another player is holding that card.

Playing This Game Online

Brag is played best against other human players in a live setting. Some online casinos spread brag games, but they take some finding these days.

Paying brag online means you are taking on the house and the dealer’s holding comes into play. It also removes the bluffing element from the game because everything boils down to card strength.

Online three-card brag only has one betting round. You pay an ante bet and they can play or fold. Playing costs another bet the exact size of the ante.

The most common rules dictate the dealer must have queen-high or better to qualify. It doesn’t matter who has the strongest hand if the dealer doesn’t qualify because this is a push. You receive your bet back on your ante is paid 1-to-1.

You win both the ante and play bets if you have the strongest hands and the dealer qualifies. Both your ante and play bets lose if the dealer qualifies and they have the best hand. Another push is declared if you both have the same strength hand and both bets are returned.

This is a fun game that can be played by two or more people. It’s still frequently played in pubs around the United Kingdom where the bluffing can cause some huge pots, especially after a few beers!