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The Origins of 3 Card Poker

876 Views on 1/2/21

One of the more popular variants in recent decades is 3 card poker

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The number of poker variants out there today is sky high. On top of all the regular games seen on mainstream sites there are also the weird and wonderful local games that most people haven’t heard of.

One of the more popular variants in recent decades is 3 card poker. In the mid-90’s an Englishman called Derek Webb helped to develop the game for UK players, but its history goes back much further than that!


It is thought that 3 card poker in its original form originated in Italy under the name Primero. Some say that it could be Spanish as the word primero—meaning first—originates in Spain. Only this first variant was played with a 40-card deck and used different hand rankings than what we are used to. 

Over the years it spread throughout Europe, known as Prime in France and Primero in the United Kingdom. This is the game that evolved and produced all of the poker variants we see today.

By the 1800’s the British adaptation of 3 card poker was known as bragg, or bragg. For this game the currently in-use 52-card deck is used as well as the more familiar hand rankings. The most noticeable difference being that three-of-a-kind is the strongest hand. 

Brag is still commonly played today in the UK. It is an exciting game that is played by pure gamblers.

Modern Day

When Derek Webb had his brainwave that 3 card poker could become a huge hit in casinos around the world, he probably wasn’t expecting the result he got.

Webb was a keen gambler who loved poker and casino gaming in general. His idea was to switch the game so that players were up against the house. This obviously changes the dynamics but Webb was sure that it would be great fun, and an ideal pastime for blowing off some steam.

As there wouldn’t be any bluffing, or slowplaying Webb invented the ante bonus and the pair plus side bet to encourage casinos to give it a go. He was convinced that people would want to learn how to play 3 card poker.

The idea gained traction and Webb set up his company called Prime Table Games to sell his new game to casinos around the world.

Surprisingly the UK market wasn’t receptive due to regulatory issues and Webb headed across the pond to the obvious destinations of Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City. Unbelievably, he had no luck there either and after trawling around the US for business meetings he eventually found some luck in Mississippi of all places.

Prime Table Games continued to push 3 card poker as hard as they could until a company called Shuffle Master bought the rights and tweaked the name from casino brag to 3 card poker. The game soon caught on around the US and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now the game is played in thousands of casinos around the world and you can even play 3 card poker online.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More

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