Follow the Bitch is a variant of Seven-Card Stud with a curious mechanic for determining wild cards. Because which rank of card is wild can change—sometimes multiple times—during the game, hands that are strong early on can be utterly worthless by the time the showdown rolls around.
Object of Follow the Bitch
Follow the Bitch uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Don’t use a paper deck that will just get beat up, sticky, and gross. Use a washable, durable deck of deluxe Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
You will also need something to bet with, such as poker chips. Make sure to agree to betting limits (or lack thereof) prior to starting.
All players ante. Shuffle and deal two cards face down to each player, then a third card face up.
If, at any time, a queen is dealt face up, the next card dealt face up after it becomes wild. For example, if Alpha is dealt a queen face up, and Bravo, sitting to their left, is dealt a 9, then 9s are wild. 9s will remain wild until the next face-up queen is dealt. If the final card dealt face up in a particular round is a queen (i.e. no cards follow it), then there are no wilds until the next queen appears.
The player with the strongest hand, when taking into account only their face-up cards, gets the right to bet first. Betting otherwise follows the usual norms for betting in poker. After the betting round concludes, two more cards are dealt to each player, one face down and one face up. Another betting round ensues, led by the current strongest player. One last pair of cards is dealt to each player (again, one face down and one face up), giving them an end total of seven cards. There is one final betting round, again led by the strongest player. Then all of the face-down cards are revealed. The player with the strongest hand, using five of the seven cards available to them, and taking into account whatever wilds happen to be at the end, is the winner.
Vanilla Follow the Bitch can often fall prey to limited betting, because one player is obviously showing a much higher hand than their opponents. To counter this tendency, it is often played with Low Chicago rules.
The Low Chicago is the lowest face-down spade. Not all spades will be contenders for Low Chicago; the lowest spade possible, the A♠, may well be in the deck stub, or be dealt face up. The A♠ would therefore not be eligible to win. If the A♠ is eligible, then it will be the Low Chicago. Otherwise, it will be the 2♠, or if it’s not eligible either, then the 3♠, and so on.
The Low Chicago is determined at the time of the showdown. The player holding the Low Chicago splits the pot with the winner of the normal Follow the Bitch game. The players will often be uncertain whether a player is betting because they have a strong hand, or because they have Low Chicago. As a result, the betting is livened up.
Of course, if one player has both the strongest hand and Low Chicago, they take the entire pot.