Brag is a card game which is usually played for money but can also be played without stakes. There are many variations of Brag but one of the most popular versions is Three Card Brag, which is the game that we’re going to concentrate on here. Learning how to play Three Card Brag can be done quickly with many players able to grasp the basics in a few minutes but becoming an expert of the finer intricacies of Three Card Brag can take a lifetime.
Unlike online poker and other card games the skill of card counting can be employed while playing Three Card Brag. This is because unless a hand is won with a prial (three of a kind) the cards are simply placed to the bottom of the deck and the next hand is dealt. Besides the beginning of the game the pack is only shuffled if the previous hand is won with a prial.
To play Three Card Brag you need at least two players and usually no more than eight. At the start of each hand all players must pay an ante into the pot before being dealt three cards face down. If it is the first deal of the game the dealer should shuffle the pack then deal the cards one at a time in a clockwise direction starting with the player to the dealer’s left until all players have three cards face down in front of them.
Once the cards have been dealt players can look at their cards or choose to play blind. If a player chooses to play blind they may only call a bet not raise a bet but they only have to pay half the bet into the pot. The player to the left of the dealer is the first to act and they must decide whether to fold their cards and forfeit the hand (and the money in the pot) or to make a bet. There is no option to simply check without making a further bet like in other cards games. If a player makes a bet the other players must decide whether to fold, call or bet again. If all but one of the players folds their hands the remaining player takes the pot unchallenged. At the end of the hand the dealer turn is passed to the left.
If a player decides to make a bet then all players at the table must decide whether to fold or to bet at least as much as the original bet. The betting continues around the table until the all players have either folded or matched the final bet. In certain variations of Three Card Brag there may be a draw phase where players can exchange one, two or all three of the cards dealt to them and there may also be a limit on the number of raises in each round of betting.
Once all but two players have folded their hands there is another option available. A player can pay to ‘see’ the other player’s hand. Seeing costs twice the value of the other players previous bet however it forces them to show their hand first. If you pay to see your opponent’s hand and your hand is the stronger you should turn over your cards and take the pot but if they are equal or worse you can simply fold your hand without showing your opponent your cards. It should be noted that if the hands are equal the player who pays to see loses.
During every hand of Three Card Brag betting continues until all players except one have folded or when there are just two players remaining in the hand and one player pays double to see the other player’s hand. At the end of the hand the dealer turn is passed to the left.