With its origins in 16th century England, Three Card Brag can justifiably lay claim to being one of the oldest card games still in existence.

Three Card Brag is actually a direct descendant of the lesser known Italian card game Primero, which was first recorded in 1526. Both titles are what are known as bluffing or vying games – the most popular example of which is poker. In fact, the modern game of poker bears a striking number of similarities to Three Card Brag so anyone who loves poker will feel right at home with Brag.

After enjoying a brief heyday in Renaissance England, Three Card Brag gradually began to fall out of favour with the masses. It still had its die-hard fans – for example, the game remained popular at fairgrounds – but the creation of poker in 19th century America really pushed it to the sidelines.

All that is changing thanks to the internet though. Now people from across the world are rediscovering 3 Card Brag online, not least poker players who are looking for something a little different.

How to play 3 Card Brag

Three Card Brag is a classic bluffing or vying game, so many of the rules will be familiar to poker players.

It’s true that many card schools play to their own rules, which makes it difficult to find a playing guide that everyone agrees on. However, Three Card Brag typically incorporates many of the same features as poker, including the ante, hand ranks and bluffing your way out of a weak hand. Check out three card brag guide and rules before you start to play this great game.

Here’s what you can expect in a traditional game:

  • Number of players – You’ll need between two and eight players to enjoy a game of Three Card Brag.
  • Ante – To get started, everyone needs to pay the same ante (in other words, place the same starting bet) into a central pot.
  • Deal – Once the opening bets are in, everyone receives three cards face down.
  • Blind or Open – When the cards arrive, each player must decide whether or not to check them. If they have a look at the cards, they are said to be ‘open’, whereas if they do not, they are said to be ‘blind’. Open players have to bet twice as much as blind players.
  • Betting – Now the first player needs to decide whether to raise the bet to stay in the hand, or fold. If he raises, everyone else must match his bet or fold themselves. The betting continues like this until there are only two players left.
  • Call – During this stage of the betting, either of the two players can choose to call their opponent, at which point both of them must show their hands.
  • Hand ranks – The player with the strongest hand takes all the money in the pot. A Prial is best, followed by a Running Flush, a Run, a Flush and a Pair. If neither player has any of these, the one with the highest-value single card wins.