Are there any games designed for EXACTLY three players?

And a lot of other game shows, now that you mention it.

Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

A puzzle/adventure for Nintendo DS designed to be played by 3 players simultaneously. The puzzles often require all three players to sync their actions to solve.

There are some board games that play exactly 3:

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeksearch.php?action=search&advsearch=1&objecttype=boardgame&q=&include[designerid]=&geekitemname=&include[publisherid]=&geekitemname=&range[yearpublished][min]=&range[yearpublished][max]=&range[minage][max]=&floatrange[avgrating][min]=&floatrange[avgrating][max]=&range[numvoters][min]=&floatrange[avgweight][min]=&floatrange[avgweight][max]=&range[numweights][min]=&colfiltertype=&searchuser=N9IWP&range[minplayers][max]=3&range[maxplayers][min]=3&playerrangetype=exclusive&range[leastplaytime][min]=&range[playtime][max]=&B1=Submit

The one with the highest BGG rank is God’s Playground

There are some games that are arguably best with 3, I’d nominate Le Havre

Brian

Not really. The bidding phase is the game, which requires all four players, is critical to the game, and is what differentiates it from several similar trick-taking games. The bidding is also a significant fraction of the time you skene playing.

Hearts plays best with the players, IMO, but can also be played with four.

My wife is Filipino. A big game there is Tongits, it is like a asian gin rummy. It is very fun and you can google the rules, because it is not very hard to play. It is a lot of fun!

It’s more like standard hearts is played with four, but can be adjusted for three (in various ways.) There’s a good number of card games where you can make adjustments like that, but the game was designed for four.

This list here is a bit more expansive, but does include games with variable number of players. It also includes the game 1000, which I mentioned but wasn’t on the Wikipedia list. We play it as the Polish game Tysiąc.

In all the card games I personally mentioned, the 3 player types are alliance games, in which temporary alliances are formed as one bidder plays against two defenders.

I also just remembered after looking at that page 99 is a good game for three and much easier to learn than the others I mentioned.

A three man scotch or nine point game game in golf.

Bottle Imp is a really interesting 3 player card game. It’s based on the Robert Louis Stevenson short story and is a trick taking (or not taking) game. (Although you can play with 4, it breaks the game and makes it far from interesting)

Cutthroat pool is a 3-player game played on a billiard table. One player tries to sink balls 1 through 5, another player tries to sing balls 6 through 10, and the third player tries to sink balls 11 through 15.

In Canada, we play an excellent 3-player card game called 9-5-2 similar to Sergeant Major. I’ve also heard it called 3- player Bridge.

Cribbage is also a good 3-player game

Oh, totally forgot about that one! We used to play it in high school and college. It actually is quite a fun variant of pool. Definitely enjoy it.

I’m embarrassed to say, we had a pool table in our basement when I was growing up, and my dad and brother and I used to play this quite a bit. I can’t believe I forgot this one.

We played it where one person would be assigned 1-5, but try to knock in the other people’s assigned balls (6-10 or 11-15). The first person to hit in a ball got to choose their set. Second person to hit in a ball got to choose their set. Third person was screwed.

When your balls were all sunk, you were out. Unless someone scratched, which brought you back to life with one ball spotted. Two players could team up and knock out a stronger player (hence, “cutthroat”).

You just blew my mind.

The very idea of play proceeding counter-clockwise makes my teeth itch, but at least I’m not violating local norms by having play go clockwise. These cribbage rules suggest play should go clockwise.

Sure you could try to play Bridge like this but it's kind of ridiculous really. It takes everything that makes Bridge a great game and turn it into a game of whose got bigger balls.

The card game Tripoli/Tripoly/Tripoley should be for three players, but isn’t.

You’re right. I mistyped.

Though, it blew your mind? Really?

Chess.