OBJECTIVE OF BRAG: Win the money in the pot by remaining in the hand and/or having the highest ranking hand.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4-8 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card decks
RANK OF CARDS: A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2
TYPE OF GAME: Gambling
INTRODUCTION TO BRAG
Brag, or Three Card Brag, is a descendant of the Spanish game Primero. It is very similar to the popular card game in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Trinidad Teen Patti, which means literally in Hindi ‘three cards’.
Brag is popular British gambling game which employs the skill bluffing to deceive other players.
There are several variations of brag which use anywhere between 4 and 13 cards, although 6,7,9, and 13 card brag have a very different game mechanism.
THREE CARD BRAG
Before starting the game, players must agree upon:
- The amount of the initial stake or the ante – a forced bet each player must make before each deal.
- Minimum and maximum bet amounts – a bet the first player must make to stay in the hand.
- The limit on how much bets can be raised, if any.
- Any variations on the traditional rules.
Hand Rankings (from high to low)
- PRIAL: Prial is short for “pair royal.” Three cards of equal rank, for example, K-K-K
- RUNNING FLUSH: Three cards in sequences of the same suit. A-2-3 is a viable run and actually the highest, despite A being the highest ranking card. A-K-Q is the second highest run/running flush. 2-A-K is not a valid flush or run.
- RUN: Three cards in sequence of any suit. Running flushes beat all runs.
- FLUSH: Three cards, not in sequence, of the same suit. For example, if all cards are spades, 7-10-Q is a flush.
- PAIR: In a three card hand, a pair is having any two cards of equal rank. For example, A-A-J.
- HIGH CARD: A three card hand that doesn’t form any of the above combinations relies on high card- that is the highest ranking card. For example, in this hand: 5-10-K, K is the high card.
Suits are not ranked so equivalent hands are possible.
The Ante & The Deal
Prior to each deal, players must agree upon an ante. The ante must be paid by each player to the pot before the deal can begin. The deal and the play passes clockwise, the deal passes to the left with each hand.
Before the first deal, the dealer shuffles the cards. After, the cards are only shuffled if the last hand was ‘seen’ and was won by a Prial. For the most part, cards are not shuffled between hands.
The dealer passes each player three cards, face-down, one at a time. Players have the option to look at their cards, but they do not have to. However, a player’s cards must remain secret from all other players in the game. There is only one exception to that, which is when the betting round ends with a “see.”
After the cards have been dealt betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer. The first bettor has two options: fold (throw down their cards and sacrifice their ante to the pot), or bet anywhere between the minimum and maximum amounts. If all but one player folds as betting continues the remaining player wins the pot and a new hand dealt.
If a player bets, the following players must either fold or make a minimum bet equal to the previous bet. Players may raise the bet, but it must be within the limit decided upon mutually by all other players.
In the event there are only two players left in the game, and all others have folded, there is another option available. Players may see the other’s cards. To see a player must pay twice the amount of the previous. If you pay to see another player’s card, they expose their hand first. If your hand is better than your opponents, expose it to collect your winnings in the pot. If your hand is worse or equal to your opponents, it is not necessary to reveal your hand, they win the pot. Reminder, if hands are equal, the player who paid to see loses the hand.
Betting does not end until all but one player drops out or there are two players left and one pays to see the other.
Here is an example of turn of betting in a four player game, note there is no equalizing of bets as in Poker:
Player A bets 3 chips, Player B bets 3 chips, Player C folds, Player D bets 3 chips, Player A must bet at least 3 chips to stay in the hand.
As a rule of etiquette, never fold out of turn.
Running out of Money
Brag is rarely played with table stakes, as in Poker. Table stakes means players keep all the money they are playing without on the table, in Brag players keep much of their money in their pockets. However, there is typically a minimum players must have on the table.
If you do not have enough money to bet but would like to stay in the hand you may cover the pot by betting all the money you have, putting it in the pot, and placing your cards face down on top. Players continue as normal but place their bets in a new pot. After the new pot is square, the winning hand is exposed. The hand covering the pot is compared with the winning hand, the old pot is won by the higher ranking hand. If the hands tie the winner of the new pot wins the old pot as well.
Covering the pot may be exercised when there are only two players left in the hand, however, the betting round ends. Some players, instead, practice that if there are two players and one runs out of money they must either: borrow money to bet or show their cards to potentially win the pot.
Any player has the option to play blind. Playing blind means you do not look at your cards and keep them on the table, face-down. Blind player’s bet normally but their bets are worth double. This means they only have to bet half the minimum or previous bet of an open player.
If you’ve been playing blind on a hand, when it is your turn to bet you always have the option of looking at your cards before choosing to bet or fold. However, this means you are now an open player and must bet equal to other open players to remain in the hand. You may not revert back to blind on that hand.
In the event you are playing blind and all other players fold, you do not win the pot. The pot continues on to the next hand.
Rules of seeing with blind players:
- You are open and your opponent is blind: You are not allowed to see a “blind man,” you may either bet or fold as normal, but you are not permitted to see.
- Both are blind: Paying twice the blind (equal to an open bet) allows for hands to be compared. Normal seeing rules apply.
- You are blind and your opponent is open: Your opponent can not see your cards but you may see theirs. Pay twice the blind stake in order to see.
Retaining a Blind Hand
If you have a blind hand and all other players fold you may keep that hand for the next deal. The dealer will still deal you three cards so that you have two hands. You have three options:
- look at the new hand
- look at the old hand
- play double-blind
If you look at a hand you must decide if you want to keep it or fold immediately. Keeping the hand means you fold the other. You play as an open player, not a blind one. If you fold the hand you looked at, you may play blind with the other hand.
You may choose to look at neither and play both hands blind. If on your turn you decide to look at a hand you must follow the rules described above.
In the unlikely event you are the last player standing at the end of this hand, with two blind hands, you must sacrifice one. You cannot have three blind hands. You may only look at one hand.
Four Card Brag
The same rules are Three Card Brag apply but players receive four cards as opposed to three. Players who look at their hands may dispose of one card to make the best three card hand they can. If there is a tie between two hands, the fourth card is the decider of the winning hand- high card wins. If those cards are also equal it is a tie.
Blind players keep all four cards on the table, if they decide to look at them, they must dispose of one card.
Five Card Brag
Played exactly like Four Card Brag except players discard two cards as opposed to just one.
Brag can also be played with wild cards, referred to as floaters. Players must agree upon the details of wild cards before the game begins. Here are the common options:
- All 2s are wild OR
- Only black 2s are wild OR
- One-eyed Jacks are wild (Jack of Hearts and Jack of Spades) OR
- Suicide King is wild (King of Hearts) OR
- A Joker or both Jokers
WIldcards can be used to represent any card. In the case of equal hands, the natural hand- the hand without the wild card(s)- wins. A hand with fewer wild cards beats one with more.