3 Card Brag


This English pub favorite will test the nerve of the most hardened card player. Players are betting that they have the strongest hand. The betting continues around the table untill only two players remain.  This can lead to big pots and frayed nerves. 

Players 4-8


Standard deck of 52 cards

Poker chips

How to play

The hands are ranked as shown in the photos

Piral or Pair Royal is the highest ranked hand. Pirals  are  three of a kind . They   are ranked with  three 3s being highest followed by three Aces , Kings , Queens, Jacks, and  10s all the way down to  2s


A  Running Flush is three cards in sequence and of the same suit. Running flushes are ranked Ace-2-3, Ace-King-Queen, on down to 4-3-2

A Running flush is three cards in sequence and of the same suit. Running flushes are ranked Ace-2-3, Ace-King-Queen, on down to 4-3-2

A run is three cards in sequence, and is ranked like a Running Flush.

A run is three cards in sequence, and is ranked like a Running Flush.

A Flush is three cards of the same suit. They are ranked  by highest card Ace down 5

A Flush is three cards of the same suit. They are ranked by highest card Ace down 5

A pair is ranked Aces down to 2s

A pair is ranked Aces down to 2s

High card is ranked Ace down to 4

High card is ranked Ace down to 5

At the start of each hand all players must pay an ante into the pot. The dealer gives each player three cards face down.  

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  the bet not raise a it. However, a blind player only has to pay half the bet into the pot.  If a player choses to look at his or her cards after playing blind and become a regular player. A open player can not “see” a blind player.

The player to the left of the dealer is the first to act. The player must fold their cards and forfeit the hand or make a bet. If a player makes a bet the other players must decide in turn whether to fold, call or raise the bet again.

If all but one of the players folds their hands the remaining player takes the pot unchallenged. 

If a player decides to make a bet then all players at the table must fold or bet. Unlike Poker, a player’s bet must  match or be higher than only the last player’s bet.  The betting continues around the table until the all players have either folded or a player pays to see the hand.

When all but two players have folded their hands , a player can pay to “see” the other player’s hand(unless the other player is playing blind.). 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. Remember that if the hands are equal the player who pays to see loses.

An open player may not see a blind player. If all other players fold to a blind player, the pot remains, everyone re-antes, and the blind player gets to keep his or her hand for the next round and is dealt a new hand. At any time, a player with two blind hands may look at one of them and decide whether to keep it or throw it away. If the player keeps it, he or she throws away the other hand and is considered open. If the player throws it away, he or she keeps the other hand and is still blind. If everyone folds to a blind player with two hands, he or she must throw away one without looking.

At the end of the hand the dealer turn is passed to the left. The deck is only shuffeled for the next hand if a pair royal was shown.


There are many variations played. This can include wild cards, how to deal with players folding to a blind player, and even the ranking Of highest Pirals and Runs. So be sure to ask what the tabel rules are when you start.


Here are two other types  of Brag games

Four Card Brag

This is  played like Three Card Brag witThe the following exception.

Four cards are dealt to each player. Players who look at their hands discard one card before the betting starts. In case of a tie between two hands, the discarded card is used to decide which is better. If the discarded cards were also equal in rank then the player who was seen wins the tie.

If betting blind is allowed, a blind player will keep all four cards face down on the table. If you have been playing blind and decide to look at your cards, you discard one after looking at them.

Five Card Brag

This is played like Four Card Brag with the following exception.

Five cards are dealt to each player, and each  player discards two cards to make their hand.

Bar Games Deck


I recently found an interesting piece of games equipment. It is a deck of cards called Bar Games. This deck of cards has the rules for a number of games printed on each card. It also has some cards with forfeits for the losers of the game to perform. The games are fast and well suited to play at your local watering hole.

The Bar Games deck format seems like an interesting alternative to using a rules book. You could made your own custom deck with the rules for games you are interested in. It could be made small so that it does not take up much room when traveling. It could printed on card stock so it is durable and long lasting.

I am interested in hearing reader’s opinions on making a rules deck. If you have used a deck like this or have ideas how to make one, please write about it in the comments.



The beauty and mental challenge of Go has attracted players for over two thousands years. Players take turns placing stones on the board in an attempt to surround territory, while keeping their stones safe from capture. After a few games you see why Go has such a strong following.

Players 2


Go board (19X19 grid is standard, a 13X13 or 9X9 grid can be used for shorter games)
White and black Go stones

How to play

• Starting with the black, the players place stones on the intersections of the grid.

• Once placed, stones are not moved unless captured. A capture occurs when all of the stones in a group are surrounded with no liberties (available free adjacent spaces no diagonals) Group of stones shares liberties if they are in a connected along the lines of the board.

• A stone can not be place in a position where it has no liberties.

• Repetition of a position (which is sometimes called Ko) is not allowed, and the player is forced to make a different move.

• When a player feels it is no longer to his advantage to move, he or she may pass. When both players consecutively pass, the game is over.

• The players decide which stones are dead (a stone that would eventually be captured by one side or the other). If there is a dispute, it is best to simply continue play.

• Captured stones are added to the score of the person capturing them.

• Each player is also awarded a point for every surrounded empty intersection. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. .


A Bao Lesson At The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival


I was walking around the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival hoping to find an example of a Bao board. I purchased a small one the the festival’s Marketplace. I asked a man named Ali Abdalla Skanda at the Kenyan ship builders exhibit if he could show me how to play. He smiled and said yes, but not on my board. He then brought around a giant Bao board carved from a single two inch thick plank of wood.

He proceeded to patiently demonstrate the rules of the game. Bao is a game of with a very complex rule set. While I have read the rules before, seeing them played out was a huge help in understanding. After three games I had a good feel of how to play.

Playing Bao was one of the high points of the day for me. Festivals like the Smithsonian Folk Life festival provide great opportunities to find people to play games with. If you have an experience of playing games at a festival like this please share them in the comment.