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Poker Terms

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Betting Round: If any cards of players' hands are up, betting usually begins with whoever is showing the highest hand. Some people play that in high/low games, the first round of betting starts with the lowest showing hand and all later rounds start with the highest. If no cards are showing, the betting should start with a different player each round, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and rotating to the next player clockwise each round. A round consists of a series of bets until everyone has called or folded.

Declare: Announcing whether you're trying for the high hand, low hand, or both. Typically, this is done by secretly putting no chips in your hand if you're going low, one chip if you're going high, or two chips if you're going both. Everyone then opens their fists simultaneously.

Down: Face down, so that the value of the card isn't showing.

Exchange: Discard cards from a hand and replace them with different cards, usually from the top of the deck.

High/Low: The highest hand and the lowest hand split the pot. In many high/low games, it is possible to win the entire pot by having the highest and the lowest hand (accomplished via wild cards, or by using different sets of 5 cards), but only if you declare that you're trying for both. If you try for both but don't win both (that is, someone else has the highest or the lowest hand), you win neither. When playing high/low, hands are only compared against those declared the same way unless you're playing that cards speak for themselves, in which case there's no declare and all hands are compared against each other. If someone goes for both and fails, say by winning high but losing low, the high half of the pot goes to the low winner-- it doesn't go the second best high hand.

Natural: Without wild cards.

Perfect low: A perfect low is usually A-2-3-4-6. However, it can also be A-2-3-4-5 if you play that straights don't count when you go low, or it can be 2-3-4-5-7 if you play that Aces are always high, or 2-3-4-5-6 if you play both of the above.

Rank: Value of a card. There are 13 ranks in a deck of cards.

Roll: Flip a down card up.

Rolling Showdown: A showdown in which cards are stacked and revealed one at a time with a round of betting after each card is revealed.

Rotating Bet: Each round of betting starts with the next player clockwise. Typically, the player to the left of the dealer starts the first betting round. The 2nd round would thus be started by the player to his left, and so forth.

Showdown: The process of revealing hands and determining the winner.

Trick: A set of cards, one card from each player, played one at a time in sequence around the table. Tricks are usually found in games like Hearts and Bridge, not in true Poker games.

Trump: One suit which is stronger than other suits. The lowest ranking card of a trump suit beats the highest ranking card of any other suit. Trump suits are used in trick-taking games and are not found in true Poker games.

Up: Face up, so that the value of the card is showing.

 

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Hand Rankings

 

PLAY POKER

 

5 Card Draw

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: five down cards to each player

PLAY:There is a betting round after the deal, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. After the betting round, each player may exchange up to three cards. Another round of betting ensues, followed by the showdown. With fewer than six players, a player may draw four cards if they show that their remaining card is an Ace.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Adding wild cards to play (and allowing five-of-a-kinds if chosen).

High/low: the highest hand and lowest hand split the pot.

Lowball: Lowest hand wins

Allowing for four card draw with an ace.

Double draw: After the first exchange and subsequent betting, there is another exchange and betting round.

 

Spit in the Ocean

PLAYERS: 3-12

INITIAL DEAL: 4 cards down to each player, one card up in the middle.

PLAY: As in 5 card draw, but each player receives only 4 cards. The card in the middle is shared by all players and, along with all other cards of the same rank, is wild.

WINNER: High hand

 

Anaconda (Pass the Trash)

PLAYERS: 4-7

INITIAL DEAL: seven down cards to each player

PLAY: Rotating bet starting after the deal. Each player passes three cards to the player on their left after the first round. After the next betting round, everyone passes two cards to the player on their left. After another betting round, players pass one card to their left. Each player then chooses five cards to keep and discards the remaining two. Play continues with a rolling showdown. Cards speak for themselves.

WINNER: high hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

The cards are passed to other than the person to the left (Ex. 3-left, 2-right, 1-left or 3-left, 2-two-to-the-left, 1-three-to-the-left).

The player keeps all seven cards at the end and chooses which to turn up. This allows the player to change from hi to lo depending on what is being played.

Pass 2 cards to the left and 1 card to the right at the same time.

Love Thy Neighbor: High hand and the person to his left (who is still in) split the pot.

 

Howdy Doody

PLAYERS: 4-7

INITIAL DEAL: seven down cards to each player

PLAY: As with Anaconda, but with these exceptions: this game is high/low and has wild cards. Threes are wild if and only if the hand they are in is used to try to win the high pot. Kings are wild if and only if the hand they are in is used to try for the low pot. No betting until the showdown.

WINNER: High and low hands split

NOTES: The low pot is usually won by a perfect low. High is usually won by at least a full house.

 

Jacks to Open, Trips to Win

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: five cards down to each player

PLAY: Played like 5-card draw, with the following differences: Only a player with a hand as good as or better than a pair of Jacks may open the betting. If someone has such a hand, they must open the betting. If nobody can open, the hand is discarded, everyone antes again, and hands are redealt. Once the betting is opened play continues as in 5 Card Draw until the showdown. At this time, anyone who has at least a 3 of a kind must reveal his hand. The best revealed hand takes the pot. If nobody reveals a hand (that is, nobody has at least 3 of a kind) everyone still in may make another exchange. Repeat this process (exchange, bet, check for winner) until someone wins.

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Progressive Jackpot: You have to win 3 hands to win the pot. The first hand starts with twos being wild, with the rank of the wild card increasing by one with each hand (so in the fourth hand, fives are wild). If nobody can open, the requirement increases to a pair of Queens, then Kings, then Aces.

 

Trees

PLAYERS: 3-10

INITIAL DEAL: 5 down to each player

PLAY: Bet. Now every player can trade cards freely with every other player. Any number of cards can be exchanged, but a player must give the same number of cards he is receiving. When all no more trades are forthcoming, there follows a final round of betting before the showdown.

WINNER: High hand.

 

All For One or One For All

PLAYERS: 3-10

INITIAL DEAL: 5 down to each player

PLAY: Bet. Each player, starting to the dealer's left and continuing clockwise, may choose to either draw one more card or trade in all his cards for an equal number of replacements. Rounds of betting and drawing/exchanging continue, the leader rotating each time, until there are fewer cards in the deck than players left in the game.

WINNER: High hand.

 

Pick a Partner

PLAYERS: 4, 6, 8, or 10

INITIAL DEAL: 5 down to each player

PLAY: Everyone rolls a card. Highest card showing picks one of the other hands as a partner. The next highest unpartnered hand chooses a partner, and so forth until everyone is paired up. Each partnership combines their remaining 8 cards and chooses 3 of them. Three rounds of betting follow, with one of the 3 cards rolled after each round. The winning team splits the pot. If one member of a team folds, the other can continue playing and, if he wins, he wins the entire pot.

WINNER: High hand.

 

Psycho

PLAYERS: 3-6 (tricky with 6-- may not have enough cards)

INITIAL DEAL: 5 down to each player

PLAY: As in 5 card draw. Immediately after draw, players show 3 cards. After a round of betting, players receive one card up. Bet. Receive a last card down. Bet, then showdown.

WINNER: High and low hands split.

 

Stud Poker

PLAYERS: 3-10

INITIAL DEAL: 1 down, 1 up (5 card stud) or 2 down, 1 up (7 card stud) to each player

PLAY: Betting begins after the deal. After each round of betting, each player is dealt one card face up except for the last card, which is dealt face down. Showdown occurs after the last round.

WINNER: High and low hands split.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Last card dealt face-up.

Adding wild cards.

Canadian Stud: 5 card stud. 4-card straight beats a pair, 4-card flush beats a 4-card straight, 2 pair beats a 4-card flush. This adds more hands to shoot for, making 5 card stud more interesting.

 

Abyssinia

PLAYERS: 3-12

INITIAL DEAL: None

PLAY: One card is turned face up on each side of the deck. Each player in turn has the option to buy one of the up cards or the top card from the deck, each at preset prices. After each round of purchasing comes a round of betting. Play continues until each player has 5 cards. Costs are assigned by card rank (2-5 = 25 cents, 6-K = 10 cents, A = 50 cents). Cardsfrom the deck are dealt up so the cost can be paid. Players may hold cards purchased.

WINNER: High and low hands split.

 

Auction

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down to each player

PLAY: A number of cards equal to the number of players is turned up in the middle of the table. Each person then secretly chooses an amount of at least the minimum bet and places it in their hand. Then everyone drops their coins at once. The person who "bid" highest gets chooses one of the up cards and adds it to his hand, leaving it face up in front of him. The person who "bid" second highest chooses next, and so forth. If more than one person bid the same amount, then the person nearest a spot rotating clockwise from the left of the dealer chooses first with the other people choosing in clockwise order. All bids are added to the pot. This continues until all people have 7 cards. Then there is a single betting round starting with the high hand on the table, followed by a high/low/both declaration and a showdown.

WINNER: High and low hands split.

 

Baseball

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two down and one up to each player

PLAY: As with 7 card stud, with these exceptions: threes and nines are wild. If a four is dealt face up, the recipient immediately receives another card down.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Rainouts - If the Queen of Spades is dealt face up, the hand is terminated and redealt-- but only for players who are still in.

Rainouts as above, but after 3 of them you build a dome over the stadium, preventing further rainouts.

Paying for wild cards. Usually, the required payment is to match the pot. Possibilities include:

Face-up threes, nines, or both require the recipient to pay for them to be wild, otherwise they're just face value.

Face-up threes, nines, or both require the recipient to pay for them or fold.

Pay for face down wilds as well as face up ones.

Paying for the additional card when a four comes face up.

Allowing someone with a face-down four to flip it face up and receive an additional card.

The way we usually play is: Nines are free, as are down threes. Up threes require you to match the pot or fold. The additional card from a four is free, and you can turn a down four up to get it.

 

Chicago

PLAYERS: 4-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down and one up to each player

PLAY: As with 7 card stud, but whoever has the highest Spade in the hole (face down) gets half the pot.

WINNER: High hand and high spade in the hole split.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Adding wild cards

Washington Park: each player's lowest down card is wild for that player, along with all cards of the same rank.

Low Chicago (aka Baltimore): low spade in the hole gets half the pot instead of high spade.

 

Cowpie Poker

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: Two cards down and one up to each player.

PLAY: Deal and bet as in 7-card stud. After the betting round following the final down card, all remaining players split their hands into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. The 2-card hand must contain at least one down card. The 5-card hand must be a better hand than the 2-card hand. Following the split there is one more betting round.

WINNER: Highest 5-card hand and highest 2-card hand split the pot.

 

Dakota

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 3 cards down to each player

PLAY: After the deal, players simultaneously turn one card up. After each round of betting, players receive a new down card and must turn one down card up. Before getting the seventh down card, a player must decide whether or not to buy the Option. If he declines the option, he does not turn another card up. If he buys the Option (at a cost of the maximum allowed bet), he turns a card up normally. After a final betting round players declare hi/low/both and reveal their hands. Each player's lowest down card (and all other cards in their hand of the same rank) is wild if the player went high. Nothing is wild for low hands.

WINNER: High and low hands split

 

Dirty Schultz

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down and one up to each player

PLAY: As in 7 card stud, with the following variations: whenever a natural pair is dealt up to a player, the next card dealt up (and all cards of the same rank) becomes wild. If another pair is dealt up, the next up card replaces the previous wild as a new wild. If the second card of a pair is the last up card, nothing is wild.

WINNER: High hand

 

English Stud

PLAYERS: 3-6

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, one up to each player

PLAY: As in 7 card stud, with the following exceptions: Players only get 6 cards. Before the sixth card is dealt, each player beginning at the dealer's left may exchange one card. If he discards an up card, he is dealt a new up card; if he discards a down card, he gets a new down card. A player may choose not to exchange. When all players have exchanged or stood pat, the sixth card is dealt. After the ensuing round of betting, players may make another exchange. This is followed by a final round of betting and a showdown.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Pay to exchange.

With 5 players, this game can be played with 7 cards. With 6 players, it can be played with 7 cards with the understanding that some players may be unable to exchange cards in the second exchange. If this is done, it is highly recommended that you also require players to pay for the right to exchange-- this increases the chance that some players will not exchange, giving all players the opportunity to make the choice.

 

Follow the Queen

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down and one up to each player

PLAY: Play the same as 7-card stud, with the following variations: All queens are wild. Additionally, when a queen is dealt up, the next card dealt up (and all cards of the same rank) is also wild. If another queen is dealt up, the next up card replaces the previous wild as a new wild card (but queens remain wild). If a queen is the last card dealt up, only queens are wild.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Pay for queens.

Queens are not wild.

If last card up is a queen, only queens are wild (or nothing is wild)

All cards after a queen are wild (no cancellations-- not recommended for the squeamish).

Black Mariah: If the Queen of Spades is dealt face-up, the hand immediately ends. All players re-ante and the hand is redealt.

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 cards down, 1 up to each player, three down on the table

PLAY: The same as 7 card stud with these modifications: After the fourth card is dealt, flip the first of the table cards. This is The Good, and is all cards of the same rank are wild (but The Good card itself is not shared). After the fifth card is dealt, flip the second table card. This is The Bad, and all cards of the same rank must be discarded. After the 6th card is dealt, flip the last table card. This is The Ugly, and anyone who has an up card of the same rank must fold.

WINNER: High hand

 

Grocery Store Dots

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: Two cards down and one up to each player, plus three up cards to the table (the grocery store) with the left-hand card marked with a chip.

PLAY: Deal and bet as in 7-card stud, with the following exception: before being dealt each up card, each player has the choice instead to buy his card from the grocery store. First card (the marked one) costs one betting unit, the second costs 2, and the third costs 3. If the player chooses not to buy, then he is dealt an up card normally. Prior to each potential purchase, the store is restocked as necessary from the deck. Note that this means that, if the dealer buys a card, the store shows only two cards during the ensuing betting round-- it is not restocked until the next dealing round. The remaining store stock is discarded after all players have four up cards. "Dots" consist of the pips in the center column of each number card: threes have 3 dots; twos, eights, and tens have 2 dots; aces, fives, sevens, and nines have 1 dot; fours, sixes, and face cards have no dots.

WINNER: Highest 5-card hand and the 7-card hand with the most dots split the pot.

 

Have a Heart

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, 1 up to each player.

PLAY: As in 7 card stud, but whenever a player is dealt a heart face up, he takes a card (either up or down) from another player. The player whose card is taken does not draw a replacement.

WINNER: High hand.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Trade a Heart: You must trade one of your own cards (up for up, down for down) with the card you take.

 

Henway

PLAYERS: 3-5

INITIAL DEAL: 10 cards down to each player

PLAY: Players split their cards into two 5-card hands, laying each hand down in their desired order. Each rotating betting round is preceded by all players turning over the top cards from both of their hands.

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Add wild cards.

 

Jack the Shifter

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 cards down and one card up to each player

PLAY: Normal seven card stud until a Jack is turned face-up. The player with the Jack may then name any 7 card stud game, and the rest of the hand is played out as that game. If another Jack is turned up, the owner of that Jack may name a different stud game, and so forth. The game named must be an accepted, named game within your poker circle-- no calling "6's wild" when you've got a pair of sixes (unless, of course, your group routinely plays a sixes wild game). A face-down Jack may be turned up at any time, at which point that player names a game. To prevent timing conflicts, before the final round of betting the dealer should ask each player, in turn, if they wish to reveal a jack, starting with the player with the best hand showing and proceeding clockwise. Any player who declines to show a Jack when asked at this time forfeits the ability to do so for the rest of the hand.

WINNER: High hand, unless changed by the game called.

 

Kings

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-10

INITIAL DEAL: 1 down to each player

PLAY: Each round, the top card off the deck is offered face-up to the player to dealer's left. If the player takes the card, the next card from the deck is offered face-up to the next player clockwise, and so forth. If a player rejects a card, the next player clockwise is offered the same card and has the same choice. Kings are wild and MUST be accepted. Once all players have accepted or rejected a card, all players who rejected are dealt an up card from the deck, which they must keep. Betting follows. Repeat until all players have 5 cards. Declare high/low. Anyone with a king, either up or down, must declare high. Bet again. Reveal hands.

WINNER: High and low hands split.

 

Kings and Little Ones

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-10

INITIAL DEAL: 5 down to each player

PLAY: As in 5 card draw, but after the draw there is no further betting. Instead, each player clockwise (starting to the dealer's left) declares whether he's in or out. If nobody stays in but the dealer, everyone in turn gets another chance to stay in. Players who stay in compare hands. Losers pay the amount of the pot to the winner. If only one player stays in, he takes the pot and the game ends. Otherwise the pot stays and the deal rotates. Kings are wild, as are all cards of the lowest rank in your hand.

WINNER: High hand

 

Mexican Stud

PLAYERS: 4-10

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down to each player.

PLAY: Players roll one of their two cards and then there is a betting round. Players are dealt another card down and roll one of their remaining two down cards, followed by a betting round. This continues until all players have five cards: one down, four up. Showdown after the final round of betting.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

Down card (and all other cards of the same rank in that hand) is wild.

Deal three cards to start, continue until everyone has seven cards, with the seventh card dealt up.

Deal last card down.

Low card down is wild in each player's hand.

 

Mexican Sweat

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: seven cards face down to each player and one up card on the table.

PLAY: Do not look at your cards! This game is similar to Midnight Baseball, but without all the special cards. The player to the dealer's left is the lead player. The lead player starts rolling cards until his revealed hand beats the highest revealed hand on the table (initially, the single up card). As soon as his revealed hand becomes the best hand, he stops rolling cards and begins a round of betting. If he rolls all his cards and does not beat what is on the table, he is out and a betting round begins with the high hand. Either way, the next player becomes the new lead player and the process repeats, with a round of betting whenever someone stops rolling cards. If at any time the lead player rolls a card of the same rank as the card dealt up from the deck at the initial deal, he must immediately fold and a betting round begins with the high hand. The game continues until all the cards have been turned up or there is only one person left in the game.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

If a player rolls all his cards without beating the high hand, there is no betting round-- the next player begins rolling immediately.

If a player folds because he matches the initial up card, there is no betting round.

 

Midnight Baseball

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: seven cards face down to each player and one up card on the table.

PLAY: Do not look at your cards! This game is similar to baseball, except you can't look at your cards until they're flipped up. The player to the dealer's left is the lead player. The lead player starts rolling cards until his revealed hand beats the highest revealed hand on the table (initially, the single up card). He must obey any payment rules which apply as he flips cards (paying for wild cards, fours, etc). As soon as his revealed hand becomes the new best hand, he stops rolling cards and begins a round of betting. If he rolls all his cards and does not beat what is on the table, he is out and a betting round begins with the high hand. Either way, the next player then tries to beat the high hand in the same manner, with a betting round ensuing whenever someone stops rolling cards. The game continues until all the cards have been turned up or there is only one person left in the game.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

If a player rolls all his cards without beating the high hand, there is no betting round-- the next player begins rolling immediately.

Players can look at their cards and lay down the cards of their choice until their exposed hand beats what's on the table. Makes this game more strategic.

 

The Price is Right

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down to every player and two up cards in a row on the table next to the deck.

PLAY: Beginning with the player to the dealer's left and rotating around the table, each player has the opportunity to purchase a card. The leftmost up card costs a nickel, the second up card costs a dime, and the top down card from the deck costs 15 cents (feel free to adjust the amounts to suit your group-- some play nickel-dime-quarter, for example). Up cards stay up, down cards stay down. If the nickel up card is bought, the dime up card slides down and becomes the new nickel card. If the nickel or dime card is bought, the topmost card of the deck is dealt up to become the new dime card. This continues until everyone has 7 cards. A showdown occurs after one round of betting.

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

3 up cards plus the deck, for purchase options of 5, 10, 15, and 25 cents.

 

Royal Chicago

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, 1 up to each player

PLAY: As in 7-card stud. If nobody wins (see below), the pot stays and the hand is redealt.

WINNER: Player with any two of: high hand, low spade in the hole, high spade in the hole.

 

Second Hand High

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: Two cards down and one up to each player

PLAY: Deal and bet as in 7-card stud. Cards speak for themselves to form the best poker hand available within those 7 cards.

WINNER: Second highest hand, or the only remaining hand if all but one player fold.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Play in any standard poker format (draw, 5-card stud, etc)

Play with wild cards

Second-low in a lowball format

Split pot between the highest and second highest hands

 

Sequence

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, 1 up to each player

PLAY: As in 7 card stud, but: if a 2 turns face up, all twos become wild. If after that a 3 turns up, all threes are wild instead. And so on, with each successively higher number replacing the previous wild card rank if it appears face up.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

 

Shipwreck

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, 1 up to each player

PLAY: As in 7 card stud. Every player's low card in the hole, and all cards of the same rank in their hand, are wild. Note that since the last card is dealt face down, this can change a player's wild card.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

 

Ten-card Regrets

PLAYERS: 3-5

INITIAL DEAL: 10 cards down to each player Do not look at your cards! Each player will be forming two hands: a low on the left, and a high on the right. Each round players draw two of their 10 cards, look at them, and place them to their left or right. The cards can go to different sides or to the same side at the player's choice, but neither side can have more than five cards. One a card is placed to one side, it may never be moved to the other. When all players are ready they reveal their cards. There follows a round of betting. Repeat until all 10 cards are up. Cards speak for themselves when the last one is flipped. Hands on the left can only win low, and hands on the right can only win high. When evaluating hands, hands are only compared against other hands on the same side (lows aren't compared against highs).

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Seven-card Regrets. Playable with up to 7 players. Similar to above, but players are dealt only 7 cards and look at only 1 each time, either keeping it or discarding it. When finished, all players will have a 5-card hand. All hands are high only.

 

Tens and Adders

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 2 down, 1 up to each player

PLAY: As in 7 card stud, but: if a player has two cards (up, down, or mixed) which add to 10, they can be used together as a single wild card (an "adder"). If a player has an adder, then additionally all 10s they have are wild. Each player can have only one adder. Face cards are neither wild nor usable in adders.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

Pay for face-up 10s (match the pot or fold).

 

Turbo Five-card Stud

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 4 down, 1 up to each player

PLAY: As in 5 card stud, but: after the first round of betting, each player is dealt a down card. Each player must then discard a down card and turn a down card face-up. After the bet, this is repeated. After the third betting round, players do not get more cards but must turn up one of their remaining two down cards before the final round of betting.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

 

Wall Street

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: Two cards down and one up to each player, plus four up cards to the table (Wall Street) with the leftmost card marked with a chip.

PLAY: Deal and bet as in 7-card stud, with the following exception: before being dealt each up card, each player has the choice instead to buy his card from Wall Street. The first (marked) card costs one betting unit, the second card costs two units, the third costs 3 and the fourth 4. If the player chooses not to buy, an up card is dealt normally. Prior to each potential purchase, Wall Street is restocked from the deck if necessary. Note that this means that if the dealer buys a card, Wall Street shows only 3 cards during the ensuing betting round. The remaining Wall Street stock is discarded once all players have 4 up cards. After the betting round following the last down card players declare high-low, then hold one last betting round.

WINNER: High and low hands split

 

Want It? Want It? Got it! (aka Selection/Rejection)

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down to each player

PLAY: Rotating lead player. At the start of each round, the dealer flips up the top card and offers it to the leader. The leader can either accept it or pass. If passed, the card is then offered to the next player, who can also accept it or pass. If passed, the next player must take the card. A new card is turned up and offered to the next player in turn. This continues, skipping players who already received a card in the current round, until everyone has taken a card. Betting ensues, and a new round begins. This continues until everyone has four up cards. After that round of betting, everyone gets a 7th card down. After a final round of betting, everyone declares high/low/both and a showdown occurs.

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Each person in turn can reject the first card dealt to them, but must take the next card.

 

Church (aka Iron Cross)

PLAYERS: 3-9

INITIAL DEAL: five cards down to each player, five cards down to the table arranged in a cross.

PLAY: As in Cincinatti, with the table cards revealed clockwise with the center card last. Players may only use cards from one arm of the cross to form their hands.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

Center card is wild.

 

Cincinatti

PLAYERS: 3-9

INITIAL DEAL: five cards down to each player, five cards down to the table.

PLAY: One of the table cards is flipped up, followed by a round of betting. Repeat until all five cards have been flipped (players keep their own cards face down). A showdown follows the last round of betting, with each player making the best hand possible using their own cards and the five on the table.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low

Whoever has the highest card of the same suit as a specified table card (usually the 3rd or 5th) gets half the pot. If you use the 3rd card, expect someone to raise the maximum every time during the last 3 betting rounds.

 

Elevator

PLAYERS: 4-11

INITIAL DEAL: four cards to each player and seven down on the table, arranged in two columns of three (the shafts) with one in between (the elevator).

PLAY: Table cards are turned up one at a time, followed by betting rounds. The player will use the four cards in his hand along with three on the table to create a seven card hand. The player must use the elevator and one card from each shaft, and the three cards must be in a line, though the elevator can be in any of the three possible positions. For example, the * cards in the following table cards could be used:

* * * C C C C * C C *

C C * * * C C C * C C * C

C C C C * * * C * * C

 

So the middle card can be thought of to be on any "floor". The order of determing which card to flip is such that the elevator is turned over last and no two shaft cards which can be used in the same hand be turned up until necessary. After all seven cards have been turned up, there is a final betting round and then each player must declare whether they are going high, low or both. If going for both, both hands must be made up of the four cards in their hand and the same set of three from the table.

WINNER: High and low hands split

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

The elevator card is wild.

Different rows can be used for high and low hands when going both ways.

 

Lame Brain Pete

PLAYERS: 3-20

INITIAL DEAL: 3 cards down to each player, five cards down to the table

PLAY: A round of betting is held after the deal, then one of the table cards is turned up. It is wild, along with all cards of the same rank. Another round of betting follows. Repeat until all four table cards are up. Each time a table card is flipped, if it is the lowest showing table card it (and all cards of the same rank) become wild, replacing the previous wild cards.

WINNER: High hand

 

Omaha

PLAYERS: 3-11

INITIAL DEAL: 4 cards down to each player, five cards down to the table

PLAY: Identical to Texas Hold 'Em, but final hands must include exactly 2 of the player's four cards and exactly 3 of the table's five cards.

WINNER: High and low hands split, but the low must be 8-high or better (lower) or the high gets it all. Cards speak for themselves.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Players may use all 4 of their cards, splitting them into two groups to form a high hand and a low hand. Cards speak for themselves.

As above, but players declare high/low/both.

 

Texas Hold 'Em

PLAYERS: 3-20

INITIAL DEAL: 2 cards down to each player, five cards down to the table.

PLAY: A round of betting is held after the deal, then three of the table cards are turned up. Another round of betting follows. One more table card is flipped, followed by another round of betting. The last card is flipped, a final round if betting ensues, and finally a showdown in which players make their best hands using their 2 and the table's 5.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Tahoe: 3 cards down instead of 2. No more than 2 hole cards can be used in final hand.

Billabong: Tahoe with an extra up card to each player.

Shanghai: 3 cards down instead of 2, 2-card initial flop.

Pineapple: 3 card down instead of 2. Each player must discard one before the first 3 table cards are flipped.

Crazy Pineapple: same as Pineapple, but each player discards AFTER the first 3 table cards are flipped.

Super Holdem: 3 cards down instead of 2, all of which may be used.

 

Tic Tac Toe

PLAYERS: 3+

INITIAL DEAL: 2 cards down to each player, nine cards up to the table arranged in a 3x3 grid.

PLAY: All players place three blue chips in front of them (henceforth called "posts"). Betting starts to the dealer's left. At the showdown, players announce their best hand using their two cards plus any vertical, diagonal, or horizontal row of three cards from the table. Note that you must announce your hand-- if you miss a better one, too bad. High hand takes the pot, and all other players must toss one of their posts (if any still remain) into a separate pot. All cards are then discarded and a new hand dealt (without shuffling the deck if enough cards remain) to all players who still have posts. Play continues in this manner until only one player has posts left. That player collects the post pot and the game ends.

WINNER: High hand gets the pot; last player with posts gets the posts.

 

Z

PLAYERS: 3-9

INITIAL DEAL: five cards down to each player, four cards down to the table arranged in a Z:

13

42

PLAY: The game begins with a betting round, the lead of which rotates each round. After each betting round, flip one of the table cards in the order indicated above (card 1 in the first round, card 2 in the second, etc.). After the last card is flipped there is one more round of betting, and then players form a hand from three of their own cards and any two orthagonally adjacent table cards (1&3, 3&4, 4&2), which they reveal in the showdown.

WINNER: High and low hands split, but the low must be 8-high or better (lower) or else the high hand gets the whole pot.

 

Choose Your Own

Summary. 7 card stud where the lowest hand showing gets to choose their card from several face up cards.

Rules. After the ante, players are dealt two cards face down and one card face up, as in 7 card stud. After a round of betting, one card is dealt face up in the middle for every player. So if five people are playing, five cards are dealt face up. The player who has the lowest hand showing gets to pick which card they want. Hands are ranked as in low ball with ties going to the player closest to the dealer's left. After that, the next lowest hand chooses, and so on, until the highest hand takes the last card. Another round of betting is followed by another round of face up cards, with the lowest hand again choosing first. Players bet and there is a final round of face up cards that players choose from. After betting, everyone is dealt one more card face down (for a total of seven) followed by a final round of betting and showdown. The player with the best five card hand takes the pot.

Strategy. Strategy can be interesting, because it is often in a player's best interest to choose a low card which will allow them to choose early in the next round. Matching one of your down cards often works well because you don't have a pair showing, which would cause you to choose later in the next round. Straights and flushes can be chosen without your up cards beating other's up cards. Of course, your selection may also be influenced by trying to prevent the next player from getting the card they want.

Variant

5 Card Stud. Players are dealt one card down and one card up. After betting, one card is dealt face up in the middle for each player, with the lowest hands choosing first as above. Players bet and choose twice more, for a total of five cards. Showdown follows the final round of betting.

 

Rollercoaster

Summary. Players are dealt one card at a time, betting after each card, alternately competing for high or low hand.

Rules. After the ante, each player is dealt one card face down, which they can look at. For this first hand, players are competing for the highest card. To allow players to simultaneously indicate if they are going to compete for the pot, everyone secretly puts a coin in their hand to indicate they are competing or doesn't to indicate they are not competing. Everyone puts their closed fist on the table and opens them at the same time. Players who did not compete risk nothing and gain nothing. Players who did compete swap their cards to determine who wins - the other players do not get to see the competing players' cards. The player with the highest hand takes the pot. The competing players who lost have to match the pot. If there is a tie or no one stayed in, the pot carries over.

The dealer then deals one more card face down to each player, which everyone adds to their hands. This time players are competing for the lowest hand (just like in Low Ball). Again each player simultaneously indicates if they are competing by secretly placing a coin in their hand to indicate they are staying. Competing players again swap hands to determine the winner with the lowest hand taking the pot. Losing players match the pot - noncompeting players do nothing.

After the third card, players compete for highest hand the same way. After the fourth card, players compete for lowest hand the same way. After the final card, there is a showdown (with everyone automatically competing). The highest hand takes the pot and the game is over.

Variants

As the rules are stated, if only a single player competes for a hand, he takes the pot and there is no pot for the next competition. There are a couple ways to remedy this situation.

Ante everytime. Before each card, every player antes. This insures that there is always money in the pot and can allow the pot to increase more quickly.

Punishment. If only one player stays in, everyone else matches the pot. If no one stays, everyone matches the pot. This encourages more people to compete.

 

Bid Poker

Summary. Cards are auctioned off one at a time. The highest bidder takes the card and puts the money in the pot.

Rules. After everyone antes, each player is dealt five cards face down which they can look at. One card is turned face up. The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding. Bidding then proceeds to the left, with each player either topping the previous bid, or passing. Once a player passes, they can no longer bid on that card, but they can bid on subsequent cards. When everyone has passed except one player, that player puts his bid in the pot and takes the card. He then discards any of his cards (including the one he just bought) face down in the discard pile. The dealer then turns the next card in the deck face up. The player to the left of whoever started the bidding the previous round starts the bidding for the new card. Play proceeds until everyone has started the bidding once. At this point, there is a showdown, with the best hand taking the pot.

Variants

Instead of going around once (every player getting a chance to start the bidding once), you can go around multiple times. Usually, once or twice around works best.

Bid Slam. Instead of discarding to a discard pile, the player who bought the last card slams the person of his choice. He chooses a card and places it face down in front of another player. Before looking at the card, this player has to discard one card to the discard pile. He can then pick up the card he was given. A typical penalty for looking at the card before discarding is to have to match the pot. In this game, it is tough to keep any hand that requires 5 cards (straight, flush, full house, etc.). This can make the last card very valuable.

Bid Double Slam. Same as Bid Slam, except the player who was slammed can choose another player to slam - including the player who just slammed him. In this variant, even buying the last card doesn't assure you of being able to keep a 5 card hand intact.

Final Round of Betting. Before showdown, there can be a final round of betting, starting with the player to the dealer's left. Without this rule, it's possible to win the pot without putting in any money (except the ante) which may be desirable.

 

Kenosha Cheese Porn (by Dave Kaufman)

Background. "This one my friends and I invented a few months ago on a baseball road trip. It is called Kenosha Cheese Porn, after the place we invented it (Kenosha, WI) and what we saw out the car window at the time (cheese stores and pornography stores)."

Summary. Players alternate between receiving cards and betting until someone feels they have the best hand.

Rules. After the ante, each player is dealt two cards, face down, which they look at. There is a round of betting. Then each player is dealt another card face down to look at. There is another round of betting. This continues until one player feels his/her hand can beat everybody else's at the table. After the bet, the player calls "Cheese Porn!" and contributes to the pot (we usually say $1 in a $0.25-$0.50-$1.00 game). There is a final bet and then everyone who hasn't folded shows their hand. The highest 5 card hand wins the pot. The only requirement in calling "Cheese Porn" is that you must have a pair of Jacks or better. Notice that everyone could have as few as 2 cards or even 10 or more cards. If the dealer runs out of cards, highest hand from the previous bet wins.

Variant

Open Hand Version ("Voyeur Edition") Works similar to stud in that each player starts with two cards down and one card up. There is a bet. Then the dealer gives everyone another up card and another round of betting is completed. This continues until "Cheese Porn" is called. The caller contributes to the pot. Afterwards, one card is dealt to the remaining players face down, but NOT to the caller. There is a final bet and then the highest five card hand wins.

 

Harem (from bullethead@sonic.net)

Rules. All jacks and kings in your hand are wild unless you have a queen in which case you have no wild cards. However, if you get 3 queens, you have a harem which is an automatic win. This game can be played with any type of poker. We have found that it plays very well with 7-card no peek.

 

Guts

PLAYERS: 4-10 (the more the merrier)

INITIAL DEAL: two cards down to each player

PLAY: Everyone secretly puts a chip in their hand if they are staying in, otherwise they leave their hand empty. Players then hold their closed hands in front of them and open them simultaneously. Players who held chips (and thus stayed in) reveal their hands. The winner takes the pot and the losers have to match what the pot was. New hands are then dealt. The game continues until only one player stays in, and thus the pot is emptied.

WINNER: Highest hand, without straights and flushes

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Deal 1, 3, 4, or 5 cards to each player

Weenie rule: If nobody stays in, everyone reveals their hand and whoever has the best hand (and thus would have won) must match the pot.

Beat the deck: When only one player stays in, the top two cards from the deck are turned over. If these cards beat the player's hand, the player loses and must match the pot.

Limit match: A limit is set on the amount players must pay if they lose. If the pot is more than this amount, players just pay the limit.

Instead of declaring with chips, dealer counts out "one-two-three-drop" while all players hold their cards above the table. On "drop" all players who are dropping out drop their cards. This is faster, but can lead to arguments if one player is slower to drop than the others.

Auction Guts: An additional "mystery hand" is dealt face-down. Before the showdown, players bid for the right to switch hands with the mystery hand. This continues until nobody wants to switch with the new mystery hand.

Hold Your Guts: If nobody stays in, play again with the same hands. Repeat until somebody stays in.

Pass Your Guts: If nobody stays in, everyone passes 1-5 cards (decided beforehand) to the right, until someone stays in.

Progressive Guts: Start with 2 cards. If nobody stays in, everyone gets dealt another card. Repeat until someone stays in. Straights and flushes become legal at 5 cards.

Bloody Sevens: Deal 2 cards down to each player, players still in after guts get 3 cards up. 7s down are wild. Anyone with a 7 up immediately folds. High hand takes the pot, losers match (someone killed by a 7 does not match).

 

Buddha's Folly

PLAYERS: 4-10

INITIAL DEAL: 5 cards down to each player

PLAY: The lead rotates each hand, starting with the player to the dealer's left. The dealer turns the top card of the deck face up. The lead player has the option of taking that card or passing it to the next player clockwise. If the card is taken, the player taking it must replace it with a different card from his hand, passing that card clockwise. This continues until a card makes it all the way around without anyone taking it. Play then continues as in Guts.

WINNER: Highest hand.

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

Weenie rule: See Guts, above

Limit match: See Guts, above

 

Three Five Seven

PLAYERS: 3-7

INITIAL DEAL: 3 cards down to each player

PLAY: Players examine their cards and indicate whether or not they're staying in as described in Guts above. Players who are in determine who has the best hand by examining each other's hands-- players who did not stay in don't get to see these hands. Threes are wild, and straights and flushes don't count. Players who stayed in but lost must each pay the winner the amount currently in the pot. If two players have equal hands, no money is exchanged between them. All players, including those who didn't stay in earlier, are dealt two more cards down. The above procedure is repeated, but this time fives are wild instead of threes and straights and flushes count. When the winner has been paid, all players again receive two more cards and repeat the procedure with sevens being wild instead of fives, using each player's best five cards. If only one player stays in during a hand, that player earns a point. The first player to earn three points takes the pot, ending the game. If no player has three points after the 7 card hand, everyone antes again. The cards are shuffled, and play starts again with 3 cards down to each player.

WINNER: High hand for each individual hand; first player to reach 3 points for the pot itself.

 

Indian

PLAYERS: 3-up

INITIAL DEAL: one card down to each player

PLAY: Do not look at your card! Each player carefully places the card face out on their forehead, taking care not to see the suit and/or rank of their card. Each player can freely view the cards of their opposing players. A betting round ensues as does a showdown.

WINNER: High hand

STANDARD VARIATIONS:

High/low hands split.

Low hand wins.

Deal 2-5 cards to each player

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