Mexican Sweat

Mexican Sweat is a simple poker game that turns poker on its head. In most poker game, you’re betting based on what you think your opponents have and what you know you have. But in Mexican Sweat, you know exactly as much information about both your hand and your opponents’ hands as they do, which isn’t everything!

We’re not entirely clear on what, if anything, this game has to do with Mexico. But the “sweating” is very clear—the suspense of worrying about whether a kill card will pop up next can definitely get you sweating!

Object of Mexican Sweat

The object of Mexican Sweat is to have the best five-card poker hand, out of seven cards, without having a kill card in your hand.

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Mexican Sweat, like most poker games, requires a 52-card deck of playing cards. As with all social games like this one, there’s usually the risk of drink spills, which can easily ruin the game if you’re not prepared. Make cleanup easy with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Before beginning play, all players should agree on the amount of the ante or blinds. Betting limits, or lack thereof, should also be established.

All players ante or post blinds. Deal seven cards face down to each player. Players may not look at their cards. If any player prematurely looks at their cards, they are out of the hand. Any ante or bet they have placed into the pot is forfeited.

Next, deal two more cards to the center of the table. The first is designated as the kill card—any hand with this card is killed and not eligible to win the pot. The second is the card to beat.

Game play

The player to the left of dealer plays first. They begin flipping cards from their hand face up, one at a time. They only stop when they are able to beat a high-card poker hand consisting of just the card to beat. For example, if the card to beat was a 7, the player would have to turn up an 8 or higher, a pair of any rank, a flush, etc. Merely tying the card to beat does not actually beat it.

After the player has successfully beaten the card to beat, the player immediately stops revealing cards. Then, a betting round begins, led by the active player. After the betting concludes, the next player to the left begins revealing their hand. Instead of going for a higher hand than the card to beat, however, they are attempting to beat the exposed portion of the hand of the player preceding them.

If, at any time, a player exposes a card of the same rank as the kill card, they immediately stop revealing cards. Their hand is then killed and they can no longer win the pot. If a player has exposed their entire hand and is unable to beat the preceding player, or if they reveal a kill card, the betting round is started by the preceding player (or, if the first player to play reveals a kill card, the dealer).

Game play continues until only one player remains, due to all other players getting killed or because they cannot beat the preceding player. This player takes the pot.


Some players might feel unsatisfied with the relative lack of knowledge that vanilla Mexican Sweat leaves you with. If you do, you can allow players to peek at one card prior to the first player revealing a card. (Players will usually want to peek at their last card.) This gives the player a small amount of information as to whether they will be able to make a hand. It also allows them to get out cheap if they know they have a kill card.


8 responses to “Mexican Sweat”

  1. frank hernandez says:

    can you fold on Mexican Sweat? That is if a player has 3 of a kind, then the next player says “I fold” because I think I can’t beat his hand, even though he still has cards, can he just drop out?

    • You can absolutely fold during the betting round! That’s part of the fun of the game—not knowing if you are going to draw the right cards to beat someone else’s hand, and thus not knowing whether or not staying in the game is a good idea.

  2. Barkster says:

    what do u do if kill card and next card are the same?

    • Hey Barkster,
      Nothing special needs to be done if the kill card and initial card to beat are the same card. You still have to have a poker hand higher than the card to beat, and it’s public knowledge that there’s one fewer kill card in circulation.

  3. S T says:

    A great variant on this game is Mexican Sweat – Chase The B*tch (also known as Chase The Queen if you need to be more polite).

    In this version, if a player turns over a Queen, then the next card flipped is wild. i.e. if the player flips a Queen then a 2, then all 2s are wild. If another Queen is drawn, this happens again and replaces the previous wild card. i.e. if after the Queen-2, a Queen-8 was drawn then 2s would stop being wild and 8s would be the new wild card.

    This causes 2 things –

    1. The game becomes a lot more fun because it can totally change on the flip of a single card.

    2. It becomes worthwhile staying in for the whole game rather than folding, because you could get to the very last two cards with nothing and then suddenly have a really good hand.

  4. Annie Schoenecker says:

    Question: let’s say everyone has gone out except you and the player AFTER you. You had just beat the player prior to you with a pair of 5’s and say you have Ace high besides your pair AND you have 2 cards still down. The next player (only other player left,) reveals a pair of 5’s then his very last card is an Ace high, let’s say even the next highest 2 match your cards (for the sake of 5 cards making a complete poker hand) That player is now out of cards, you still have 2 unrevealed. I say you win and the game is over because the other player did NOT beat you, he tied you but nothing in the rules says you tie then game continues and you turn over your last 2 cards. The fact of the matter, that player could not beat you. I have argued this with my husband and others for years, they say split pot as it was a tie or reveal last 2 cards,but why reveal last 2 cards? You’ve done your job no one could beat you. What do you say?

  5. Andrew says:

    @Annie the best five-card poker hand wins in variants where you’re assembling any number of cards into a five-card hand. If both players have the same hand, then it’s a tie and the pot is chopped between the two. If, in a stud (or similar game, in your case) where a tie has occured, you’re allowed to reveal your remaining cards in sequence with the following results:

    1) you get to the end without changing the result of 55Axy vs 55Axy (in your example) and the pot is chopped between the two winners

    2) you reveal another card that helps you win, an A, card pairing the x or y, or in the case of straight or flush possibilities, the card completing this hand. Less likely but still possible is running cards to any better hand to include another pair not already on your board. In this case the entire pot is yours

    3) you reveal a kill card. You lose the entire pot.

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