Guts is a simple betting game that can quickly escalate into a high-stakes game that takes a lot of bravery to make it through! Like Red Dog and In-Between, Guts isn’t a poker game, but it is often played in dealer’s choice games to change things up. It is best for five to ten players.

Object of Guts

The object of Guts is to win money by accurately judging the strength of your hand.


Guts uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. It doesn’t take a lot of guts to decide on using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game. You also need poker chips or something else to bet with.

Before you begin play, the players should agree to the amount of the initial ante. You may also wish to decide on a maximum amount the pot can reach, if desired. This will prevent the amount the players must pay if they lose, allowing the players to limit their risk.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal two cards to each player. The deck stub is set aside and takes no further part in game play.

Game play

Each player looks at the cards dealt to them and determines whether they are in (playing the hand and risking their money) or out (dropping out of the hand). Beginning with the player to the dealer’s left and continuing clockwise, each player declares “in” or “out”. Players who are out discard their hands to a central discard pile.

After all players have declared whether they’re in or out, it’s time for the showdown. If only one player remained in, they take the pot uncontested and are not obligated to show their cards. If more than one player stayed in, the players reveal their cards and the player with the best hand takes the pot.

Guts hands are evaluated by their ranks and whether or not they form a pair. Aces are always high, and the other cards rank in their usual order. Pairs rank higher than unpaired hands; if multiple players have pairs, the higher-ranked pair wins. Unpaired hands are compared using their higher-ranked card, with the lower-ranked card breaking ties. In any case, two hands that are identical other than by suits tie.

The winner of the hand takes the existing pot (multiple tied winners split the pot as evenly as it will go, with the remainder staying in the pot as “flavor” for the next hand). Each player who stayed in but didn’t win the pot must contribute the amount of the pot to the center, forming the pot for the next hand. (For example, if the pot was $25, and four players stayed in to the showdown, the winner of the hand collects the $25 and each of the three losers contributes $25 toward the next pot, forming a total pot of $75 for the next hand.)

If a maximum pot amount was established, losing players will continue adding to the pot as normal until it exceeds the maximum.