3-5-7

3-5-7 is a poker game with an unusual betting structure. Rather than confronting one another directly by raising and calling each other’s bets, players simply decide whether or not to fold. The risk comes when you don’t fold and you lose—which is really much like regular poker, come to think of it.

Object of 3-5-7

The object of 3-5-7 is to win lots of money by correctly deciding whether or not to play, i.e. by deducing whether your hand is likely to win or not.

Setup

You need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you go with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, we think you’re just amazing.

In addition to whatever kind of chips you normally use for poker, you will need some sort of marker for keeping track of strikes. If you have some chips from a different set (like those cheap interlocking chips) or chips of a color you don’t normally use for poker games (like those weird blue chips which come with most of the dice chip sets for some reason, which have no standard value) sitting around, this is a great time to use them. If nothing else, you can use whatever’s handy. Pennies are a good option. We actually use some wooden discs from Hobby Lobby that are painted to resemble the strikes from the 3 Strikes game from The Price Is Right. Yes, we’re a little weird.

Everyone antes. Deal three cards to each player. Keep the deck stub around, you will be dealing more cards in a little bit.

Game play

At any point in time, one card is a wild card; this card is the same number as however many cards everyone has. Initially, everyone has three cards, so all threes are wild. Players examine their hands to determine whether they want to play or fold.

Players will now need to declare their intentions, simultaneously. The most reliable method of doing this is for players to take a chip in hand, shuffle it from hand to hand out of sight from the other players, then, make a fist above the table. When all players are ready, all reveal—chip in the presented hand means the player is in, no chip means the player is out.

Now, all players who are in share their hands with one another, without letting the players who folded see. The winner is determined using regular poker hands, minus all the straights and flushes (so a three-of-a-kind is the strongest possible hand). All players who played and do not win pay the winner an amount equal to the pot.

Now, two cards are dealt to all players, giving them five cards, and fives are now wild. Game play is as before, but with the usual poker hands (straights and flushes count again). Then, two more cards are dealt, and hands are formed with five of the seven cards available to them. Hands are shuffled and play begins again with new three-card hands.

If, at any time, only one player elects to play a hand, all other players having folded, the player who stayed in gets a strike marker. When one player collects three strike markers, the game ends, and the pot goes to the player to get the three strike markers.

House rules

If you’d like to liven up the betting, require all other players to make a contribution to the pot whenever a player receives a strike. This will increase the size of the reward for the player that finishes off the game. It also makes staying in the game increasingly intimidating as it goes on, making the game go quicker, since the higher stakes will induce people to play tighter, creating more strikes.

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