We play the following games, some of which you may know by another name. If a description sounds familiar, read the whole thing anyway. Our versions can be a bit eccentric.
Basic games and their variations:
There are some standard variations that we apply to many of the games:
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt five cards face down. There is a round of betting, then each player discards up to three cards from his hand. If a player holds an Ace he has the option of discarding four cards and keeping the Ace. Players are dealt new cards face down to replace their discards, and there is a final round of betting.
Croaker Discarded cards are collected by the dealer and set aside. When the hand is over, the winning player must beat the best five-card hand that can be made from the discards. (If there are not five cards, additional cards are drawn from the top of the deck.) If the player does not beat the discards, all players re-ante and another hand is dealt and played as before. This continues until the winning player beats the discards. This game is usually played with a wild card.
Red and Black Hands are scored as follows. Aces are worth 1 point, face cards are 10, and all others are their face value. A player sums the values of his red cards, sums the values of his black cards, and subtracts the lower value from the higher. For example, a hand with a red J, red 7, black K, black 10, and black A is "4 black" (21 black minus 17 red). A hand with red K, two red Q's, red 8, and black 5 is "33 red" (38 red minus 5 black). The highest red hand and highest black hand split the pot.
Shotgun Three of the face-down cards are dealt, followed by a round of betting. The fourth card is dealt face-down, followed by another round of betting. The fifth card is likewise dealt face-down, followed by a round of betting. There is a draw round, followed by a final bet.
Up Your Draws Drawn cards are placed in front of each player, face down. When all players have drawn, all drawn cards are turned face-up, and remain on the table until the end of the game. This game can be played low card wild, with the lowest of all five cards being wild, regardless of orientation.
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt three cards, the first two face down and the third face up. There is a round of betting, and the fourth card is dealt face up. Another round of betting, and the fifth card is dealt face up. Another round of betting, and the sixth card is dealt face up. Another round of betting, and the seventh card is dealt face down. There is a final round of betting.
Baseball All 3's and 9's are wild. If a player is dealt a 4 he has the option to buy an additional card for twice the ante. If the 4 was face up his new card will be face up too. If it was face down he must turn it up, and he receives his new card face down. The 4 remains an active card in his hand. In the "minor league" variation 4's have no special significance, they're just 4's.
Blo-Jo Each player's down cards form a blackjack hand. This includes the first two cards dealt and the last. However, before the seventh card is dealt each player has the option of receiving it face up so that it does not count towards his blackjack hand. He must pay a penalty for this privilege, usually double the ante. At the end of the game the players with the best blackjack hand and the best poker hand (the best five-card hand taken from all seven cards, as usual) split the pot, with any extra nickel going to the poker winner.
Chase the Lady As the face-up cards are dealt, if a Queen is dealt the next card to be dealt face up is wild. If another Queen is dealt later on, the card that follows it is the new wild card and the original wild card is no longer wild. If consecutive Queens are dealt, the card that follows the last Queen is wild. If a Queen is the last card to be dealt face up, no cards are wild. Sometimes this game is played with the Queens being wild as well.
Chicago The player with the highest spade among his face-down cards splits the pot with the player with the best poker hand.
Follow the Queen This game is played like Chase the Lady, except that Queens are wild too, and remain wild regardless of the cards that come up. Also, if the last up card is a queen, the card that had been wild before remains wild.
(Pick Your) Poison After the first round of betting, the dealer places a card for each player face up in the center of the table. Each player one of these and adds it to his hand, starting with the player that had the lowest hand showing at the beginning of the round, then the player that had the next lowest, and so on. When all players have chosen their cards there is a round of betting, with the player with the highest hand now showing betting first, as usual. This process is repeated for the remaining up cards. Finally, players get their seventh card face down and finish out the game as usual.
The Game This game is played like In Between (the Sheets), with some rule changes:
Setup After an initial ante the dealer either gives five cards to each player ("Little Anaconda") or seven ("Big Anaconda"), all face down.
The Play After a round of betting, each player passes three cards to the player on his left. There is another round of betting, then each player passes two cards to the player two places to the left. There is another round of betting, then each player passes one card to the player three places to the left. After a final round of betting, the player with the best hand wins the pot.
Counting Places When passing cards, any player who has folded is not counted. Also, players do not count themselves. For example, say there are four players, A, B, C, and D, seated in order clockwise around the table. Say also that B has folded, and it is the third round, so each player is passing one card three places to the left. Player A skips B, counts C as one, D as two, skips himself, skips B again, and gives his card to C. The other players do likewise, so Player C gives his card to D, and Player D gives his card to A.
Setup After an initial ante the dealer gives five cards to each player, then deals five cards in a pile in the middle of the table, and flips over the top card.
The Play Players go around the table bidding, auction style, on the face-up card on the table. The winning bidder pays the amount into the pot, takes the card, and replaces it with another card from his hand. All players except the one who laid the card then bid on this card in the same way. This continues until no one wants to bid on the face-up card. The player who laid it down then flips over the next card in the pile, on which all players may now bid. Players may not bid on any other cards on the table. This continues through the third, fourth, and fifth cards in the pile.
Ending the Game Once the players have bid on all cards on the table, the player to the dealer's left begins a final round of betting.
The Game If the dealer wants to deal Blackjack, he must first specify how many hands he will deal in total (five is customary), and set the limit on bets (usually fifty cents). He may change the limit between hands.
The Play Blackjack is played in the same way as in casinos. Each player plays one-on-one against the dealer, with the dealer paying all wins and receiving all losses. The dealer must hit on 16 or less, and must stand on 17 or greater (including "soft" totals). Blackjack pays 1.5 to 1, rounded to the next nickel in favor of the player. It is the dealer's choice to allow splitting, doubling down, insurance, and/or surrender, but he must specify before any hand is dealt.
The Game After an initial ante the dealer starts dealing cards face up to each player. When a card is dealt that is the same rank as a card that has already been dealt the play stops. The card is transferred to the owner of the first of that rank, and a round of betting is done (starting with the person that received that card). Dealing continues starting with the person who would have otherwise gotten that card.
The Play Play continues until a player has four of a kind. That player takes half the pot, and the other half is taken by the person with the lowest hand. If a player has more than five cards, they may choose which five make up their lowest hand. If a player has less than five cards the empty slots are filled with "nulls", which rank lower than 2's. For example, the hand 8-5-4 would be considered 8-5-4-X-X (but the X's are not considered to be a pair). This hand would beat (i.e. would be lower than) a natural 8-5-4-3-2.
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt five cards face down. The dealer then deals five "community" cards face down into the middle of the table.
The Play Each round consists of one of the center cards being flipped up, followed by a round of betting. Each player makes the best five-card hand he can out of the cards he holds and the cards in the middle.
Floater: Ten cards are dealt into the community, two rows of five, and are flipped in pairs. An eleventh community card is also dealt, called the "floater", which is flipped last. Players may use any one of the five pairs, plus the floater, in their hand.
Good Cards Bad Cards: Ten cards are dealt into the community, two rows of five, and are flipped in pairs. The cards in one row are "good", meaning they can be used in players' hands. The other cards are "bad", meaning those cards and all others of the same rank cannot be used in players' hands. Any bad cards held must be discarded immediately. Bad cards take precedence over good cards.
(Texas) Hold 'Em: The players are dealt only two cards. The first three community cards are flipped up together. The fourth and fifth are flipped up individually, with betting rounds after each flipping.
Lamebrain Pete: The lowest exposed card, and all cards of its rank, are wild.
Omaha: The players are dealt four cards. Hands must be made using exactly two of the held cards and exactly three of the community cards. The community cards are flipped as in Texas Hold 'Em.
Scott's Slots: Two cards are dealt to each player, and nine table cards are arranged in a three by three grid and flipped over by column. Hands are formed using the two held cards and three from any row, column, or diagonal. This is often played high-low, without wilds.
Southern Cross: The table cards are arranged in a cross, and are flipped over in the order top, right, bottom, left, center. The players may only choose cards from the cross which are in a line with each other (but they are not required to use all of the cards in that line). This is sometimes played with the center card (and all other cards of that rank) wild.
The Game Each player places a dealer-specified number of coins (often four dimes) in front of him. The game consists of a series of hands, with the deck being shuffled only when necessary. At the end of each hand, the player with the lowest hand pays one of his coins into the pot. When a player runs out of coins he is out of the game. Play proceeds until only one player is left with coins. He then takes the pot, and the game ends.
The Play In each hand, the dealer gives one card to each player. The player to the dealer's left goes first, and decides whether to keep his card or trade it. If he decides to keep he says so, and play continues to his left. If he decides to trade he gives his card to the player to his left, who must give up his card (but see "Kings" below). Either way it is now the second player's turn, who makes the same decision and follows the same procedure, trading with the player to his left, if desired. Play continues around the table, with the dealer trading with the top card on the deck, if desired. Then all players show their cards, and the player (or players, in the event of a tie) with the lowest card pays a coin into the pot.
Kings In this game Aces are low, making Kings the highest card. If a player holds a King and another player tries to trade, the King need not be traded away. The player holding the King should rebuff the requesting player in some amusing way, and display his King for all to see.
Strategy The goal of each hand is not to have the highest card, but to not have the lowest. For example, if the first player holds a 2 and the second player holds an Ace, the first player will probably trade his 2, hoping to get something better. The second player now holds the 2, and knows that the first player holds an Ace (a lower card). He should thus keep the 2, since he knows that he at least has the first player beat and therefore won't have to pay anything this round.
The Dealer The dealer decides how many coins of which denomination will be used, and how often to reshuffle the deck. He is responsible for ensuring that there are enough cards in the deck to play each hand (at least one for each player, plus one in case the dealer wants to trade with the deck). If the dealer runs out of coins before the end of the game, he passes the deal to the next (still active) player to his right, thus keeping the same first player throughout the game.
The Game After an initial ante the dealer gives four cards to each player, and then seven cards to the middle of the table, arranged in two columns of three (the "shaft") and one in the middle (the "elevator").
The Play Table cards are turned up one at a time such that no series of three playable cards (see below) is given away sooner than necessary. The elevator is turned up last. After each card is turned up, a round of betting occurs. Usually played high-low. A nasty variation has the elevator card wild.
Playable Cards A player's hand must be made up of exactly two of the cards they are holding, and exactly three of the cards on the table. The three table cards must be a row or diagonal (not a column), with the elevator card "sliding" to any of the three floors, as shown here:
* * * X X X X * X X * X X * * * X X X * X X * X X X X X * * * X * * X
The Game After an initial ante all players receive three cards. 4's and 2's are wild (hence the name). Straights and flushes are not allowed, so the only possible hands are high card, pair, and three of a kind. As usual, natural hands beat wild hands, and second and third cards are used to break any remaining ties.
The Play Once all players have received their cards, they must hold them out, face down, in the center of the table. The dealer then says, "one, two, three, drop!" On the word "drop", any player wishing to fold drops his cards, and is out of the hand (but still in the game). The remaining players show their hands. The winner takes the pot, then all (non-folding) losers must match what was in the pot. For example, if there is fifty cents in the pot and three people stay in, the winner takes the fifty cents, and the losers each put in fifty cents, making the total one dollar. After the losers have paid the dealer collects the cards, shuffles, and deals again.
Ending the Game If all players but one drop, the remaining player shows his hand, then the dealer reveals the top three cards on the deck. If the player's hand beats the deck's, the player takes the pot and the game is over. If the deck wins, the player matches the total in the pot, and the game continues.
The Game In this variation of Forty-two Radical there are no wilds.
The Game After an initial ante the dealer lays the top two cards face up on the table, with space for a third card in between. The player to the dealer's left may, if he wants, bet that the next card will be "between" the two cards shown. For example, if the cards are a 7 and a Jack, any 8, 9, or 10 is considered between.
The Play The player may wager any amount up to the total in the pot, or pass his turn. Once the player announces his wager, if any, the dealer places a third card between the other two. If the player was right he takes the amount from the pot, if he was wrong he pays it into the pot. Play continues clockwise to each player around the table, including the dealer, and keeps going around until the game ends (see below).
Pairs If a player is dealt a "pair" (e.g. two 6's), his turn ends and he must pay an amount equal to the ante into the pot.
Matching If a player places a bet and his third card matches one of the other two, he must pay double what he bet.
Aces If an Ace is dealt as the first of the two cards, the player must declare it to be "high" (i.e. higher than a King), or "low" (i.e. lower than a 2), before he sees the second card. An Ace in the second position or middle is always high. Thus if a player calls his first Ace high, and receives a second Ace, he has a pair (see above). If a player has, e.g., a 5 and a high Ace, and the third card is an Ace, he has matched and must pay double his bet. If a player calls his first Ace low, and gets a (high) Ace as his second card, and his third card is also an Ace, he must pay triple what he bet.
The End of the Deck If, between players, the dealer finds he has only one or two cards left in the deck, he must reshuffle.
Ending the Game If a player takes the entire pot, all players re-ante and the game continues, unless the dealer has been through the entire deck at least once. The game ends when a player takes the entire pot and the deck has been reshuffled at least once.
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt one card, face down. Each player places his card, without looking at it, on his forehead so that everyone can see it but him. There is a round of betting (during which players may fold, as usual), then the players look at their cards. The player with the highest card wins the pot.
The Game Each player places a dealer-specified number of coins (often four dimes) in front of him. The game consists of a series of rounds, with the deck being shuffled between rounds. At the end of each round, the player with the lowest hand pays one of his coins into the pot, and must deal the next round. If two or more players tie for lowest hand, all must pay. When a player runs out of coins he is out of the game (though he must still deal the next round). Play proceeds until only one player is left with coins. He then takes the pot, and the game ends.
The Play In each round, each player receives three cards from the dealer. The dealer then places the remainder of the deck in the center of the table, and flips over the first card (but see "Knocking Early", below). In the first round, the player to the dealer's left goes first. In subsequent rounds, the player who had the highest hand in the previous round goes first. Each player, in turn, either takes the face-up card and replaces it with a different card from his hand, or flips up the next card in the stack for the next player. This process continues around the table until a player "knocks".
Knocking On his turn, any player may elect to "knock". He does so by knocking on the table, then flipping up the next card in the stack. Play continues once more around the table, with players exchanging or flipping a card, as usual. When play gets back to the player who knocked, he does not have the opportunity to exchange with the deck. Instead, all players show their hands, and the lowest hand pays.
Scoring Hands are compared on the basis of points. Each numbered card is worth that number of points, with face cards counting ten and aces counting eleven. However, a player may only add up points from one of the four suits. For example, if a player holds the 5 and King of diamonds, and the Ace of clubs, he should choose diamonds to represent his hand, and score fifteen. The highest hand is worth 31 points, consisting of an Ace and two face cards or tens, all of the same suit. An exception to this is when a player holds three cards of the same rank (three of a kind). This hand is worth 30 1/2 points.
Knocking Early The first player in each round has the option of knocking as soon as all players have received their cards, that is, before the dealer has flipped the top card of the deck face up. The dealer must give the first player the opportunity to knock early. If he does, the round ends immediately, and all players compare their hands, as usual. No player has the opportunity to exchange cards with the deck.
Setup After an initial ante each player is dealt seven cards face down. The players may not look at the cards, they must remain on the table. The dealer flips the next card face up, this is the "best hand".
The Play The first player begins flipping his cards over one at a time until he has beaten the best hand. 3's and 9's are wild and 4's get another card, as in Baseball. New cards for 4's are given face down, and may be played at any time. After a player has beaten the best hand he may elect to bet. All players must match the bet or fold, then the next player must flip his cards until he beats the (new) best hand. If a player cannot beat the best hand he must fold.
Ending the Game Play continues clockwise until all players are folded or out of cards. The player with the best (five-card) hand wins the pot.
Setup This game is played with five dice instead of cards. Two bowls are placed in the center of the table, and each player antes a nickel into each. These form the "pot" and the "jackpot". Players then roll one die each to see who goes first (highest wins).
The Play The first player rolls all five dice, trying to make the best poker hand he can. Flushes are not allowed, but five of a kind is. After the player's initial roll he may elect to re-roll any or all of the dice, or to stop. After the second roll (if any) the player may again elect to re-roll any or all of the dice or to stop. He must stop after three rolls. Once the first player has established his roll, the dice pass to his left. Each player in turn tries to beat the best hand so far. Once all players have rolled, the player with the best hand takes the pot, and all players re-ante into both the pot and the jackpot. The winning player from the last hand goes first in the next. Play continues until someone wins the jackpot.
Stopping Early The first player has the option to stop after one or two rolls. If he does, all other players are limited to the same number of rolls in their attempts to roll the best hand.
Comparing Hands Unlike standard poker, if two players both have, say, three Kings, they do not compare their fourth "cards" to determine the winner. Instead they are tied. If a hand ends in a tie, the tied players each roll all five dice once to determine the winner.
Winning the Jackpot If a player wins the hand with five of a kind, he takes both the pot and the jackpot, ending the game.
The Game After an initial ante each player is given one card face down, and one card face up. The value of the cards is one or eleven for Aces (player's choice), 1/2 for face cards, and face value for all other cards.
The Play On each player's turn they may opt to take a card or stand with what they have. Players may always take a card, even if they decided to stand on a previous round. New cards are always dealt face-up. Play ends when no players decide to take a card in a round. Hands that are inside 7 and 27 beat hands that are outside (that is, a 7 1/2 beats a 6 1/2 a 26 1/2 beats a 27 1/2). The players closest to 7 and to 27 split the pot.
The Game After an initial ante the dealer gives each player seven cards. The players make the best five-card hand they can, then reveal their cards one at a time, betting after each of the first four cards. This game is usually played high-low, with a wild.
The Play After examining his hand each player discards two cards and places the rest in a stack on the table, face-down. The players reveal their cards in the order they are stacked and bet after each, stopping after the fourth round of betting. The players declare high or low, then reveal their final card.
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt four face-down cards. One face-up card is dealt into the middle of the table. This card is wild, as are any other cards of the same rank. There is one betting round, followed by the showdown. Variants include dealing three cards face-up (where players get to choose which is in their hand and is wild), or having alternating rounds of each player flipping one of their cards face-up and betting.
The Game After an initial ante each player is dealt three face-down cards. There is a round of betting after each of the three cards. The order of possible hands, from high to low, is: straight flush, three-card flush, three-card straight, pair, high card.
The Game This is played like Three-card Poker, but with only two cards dealt. The only possible hands are a pair or high card. Often played high-low, with the Ace high in the high hand or low in the low hand.
Setup The dealer gives five cards to each player, but not himself, face-up.
Going "Up the River" The dealer flips over the top card in the deck and announces, "Pay five cents for ___'s," where ___ is the rank of the card flipped. For example, if the card is the 7 of spades, the dealer says, "Pay five cents for sevens." Each player must then put five cents into the pot for each 7 he holds, of any suit. If a player has no 7's, he does nothing. Then the dealer flips over the next card in the deck, and says, "Pay ten cents for ___'s," with the players paying ten cents for each matching card. This continues through fifteen, twenty, and twenty five cents.
Coming "Down the River" Then this process is reversed, with players taking twenty five cents from the pot for each card that matches the next card in the deck, then twenty, fifteen, ten, and five cents in the same fashion. After five cents, the game is over.
The Pot If at any point the pot runs out, the dealer must pay the players what they are owed from his own money. However, if at the end of the game there is money left in the pot, the dealer takes it.
The Game When playing high-low, players win if they have the highest hand or the lowest hand (or both). There comes a point in every high-low game when players must declare whether they are trying for the highest hand, the lowest hand, or both. The players each hold out two coins, and the dealer says, "One, two, three, drop!" On the word "drop" each player drops:
If a player declares he is trying for both he must win both, otherwise he loses both.
Splitting the Pot If a player wins both he takes the whole pot. If all players try for high or all try for low, the winner takes the whole pot. Otherwise the pot is split evenly between the player with the highest hand and the player with the lowest hand, with any extra nickel going to the high-hand player.
AcesEven when going for low, an Ace is always high. Thus the lowest possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7, not A-2-3-4-6.
Wilds High-low is often played with 2's wild. If so, they are only wild when a player is trying to make a high hand. If he is trying for a low hand, a 2 is just a 2.
The Game Under this variation, the lowest ranking card in each player's hand, and any others of that rank, are wild (for that player's hand only). In games where players have cards face up and face down, it's usually the lowest card among the face-down cards.
The Game This twist is usually played with five card draw, no wilds. The object is to get the lowest hand instead of the highest. The player with the worst hand at the end of the game takes the pot. The worst possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7.
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2004