Anaconda

An anacondaAnaconda is a very informal poker game that causes its players to make a lot of gut-wrenching decisions! You might form an excellent hand, but have to break it up between betting rounds. It’s also a split pot game, with half the pot going to the player with the best hand and the other half going to the player with the worst hand.

Anaconda is mostly played as a part of dealer’s choice games; it’s not likely to be found at your local casino. It can be played by up to seven players, and is best with four or more.

Object of Anaconda

The object of Anaconda is to form either the highest-ranking or lowest-ranking poker hand by selecting cards to pass to the other players.

Setup

Like most poker games, Anaconda is played with one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Since an anaconda is a snake, we suggest using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, which have a dragon on the ace of spades, keeping the reptile theme going. You also need something to bet with; poker chips work well, but you can use cash, matchsticks, bottle caps, pieces of gum…

All players ante. Shuffle and deal seven cards, face down, to each player. The deck stub is set aside and has no further effect on game play.

Game play

After everyone has had a chance to look at their hands, the first betting round takes place. This follows the norms of betting in poker. After the betting round concludes, the players that are still in the hand select four cards from their hand that they want to keep, setting the other three face down in front of them. After everyone has made their choices, everyone passes these discards to the first player to the left of them. Everyone picks up the cards that they received and adds them to their hand.

After the first pass, there is another betting round. Then, a second passing round occurs; this one is conducted the same as the first, except instead of passing to the left, the cards are passed to the second player to the right. A third round of betting happens after this.

Now, each player decides whether they will compete to have the highest hand or the lowest hand. Each player takes a chip in their hand and shuffles it from hand to hand under the table, out of view of the other players. The players then form one of their hands into a fist and bring it above the table. On the count of three, the players open their hands to reveal whether or not they are holding a chip; those holding a chip are indicating that they intend to compete for high hand, and those with no chip are going for low.

The players now form their final hands, discarding three cards face down into a discard pile. Each player then turns four of the cards making up their hand face up on the table in front of them, placing the fifth card face down next to the rest of their hand. Then, one last round of betting occurs. (It’s worth noting that at least part of the outcome will be fairly obvious in many cases, because at this point, the players know 80% of their opponents’ hands and whether everyone is going high or low. But some surprises can come out with the last card!)

After the final betting round, the fifth card of each active player’s hand is revealed, and the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand. (See “Rank of poker hands” and “Lowball poker” for information about how to determine the best hand.) Any remainder is left in the pot as “flavor” for the next hand.

Anaconda strategy

Anaconda plays a bit differently than other forms of poker simply because the player is unable to simply “stand pat” with the cards they are holding; one card of any given five-card combination must be passed. For this reason, royal and straight flushes are useless unless lucked into after the second pass, and regular straights and full houses will be difficult to keep filled. The best hand to hold is four of a kind, not only because it is a very powerful hand, but also because the only card that will need to be passed is the kicker, which is irrelevant for four of a kind. Pursuing a flush is also a decent option, because with four to a flush, there are nine possible cards that can make the hand, although in larger games it is more likely that a full house will be present.

Players should also keep in mind that going for low is an option. Many players naturally tend toward going for high, so it is not all that rare for a player to win the low half of the pot with a fairly weak hand simply because they were the only one who declared low. A player intending to go high who misses their hand going may, rather than folding immediately, consider seeing if they can refashion their hand as a suitable low hand.

Remember that bluffing with the final reveal is possible, and both be wary of this from other players and take advantage of it yourself. Careful selection of which cards are revealed can help represent hands both stronger and weaker than what you actually have. A revealed hand of Q-Q-Q-3 could be four of a kind (Q-Q-Q-Q-3), a full house (Q-Q-Q-3-3), or even just three of a kind (Q-Q-Q-3-?). With jacks full of 9s, a player can choose to reveal J-J-9-9 to try to convince their opponents that they only hold two pair, or J-J-J-9 to bluff that they have quads. Keep your table image in mind too; if you are known to the other players to play conservatively, try representing a higher hand than you really have, and if you’re known as a loose player, show a poor hand.

Naturally, it is important to pay attention to what the other players are revealing. It is pointless to try to bluff that you have four 10s if one of your opponents is showing a 10 plain as day on the table. Likewise, if there are multiple possible four-of-a-kinds or full houses on the table, you are likely to be unable to get anyone to fold to your flush no matter how hard you bet it.

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Poker hand probabilities

poker hand probability chart

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Paiute

Paiute is a card game for two to five players, originating in Hawaii. As in Knock Poker, players work to improve their hand by drawing cards from the stock and discarding unwanted cards until they are satisfied with their hand. However, Paiute allows for six-card hands, which makes some of the hand rankings notably different from those in poker.

Object of Paiute

The object of Paiute is to be the player with the best combination of cards at the end of the hand.

Setup

Paiute uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We sure would appreciate it if you used a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game.

Paiute can be played just for fun or as a low-stakes betting game. Players should come to a mutual agreement as to whether or not betting should take place, and if so how much the ante should be. All players then ante the agreed-upon amount.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Then, deal one card, face up, to the center of the table. All cards of this rank are wild for the remainder of the hand. Place the deck stub, face down, so that it partially covers this card, thereby forming the stock. Turn one more card face-up and place it next to the stock; this card forms the discard pile.

Game play

Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s left. This player draws one card from either the stock or the discard pile, then discards one card to the discard pile. At the end of your turn, the discard pile must always have a different card on top of it than the one that was there at the start of it. You cannot draw a card from the discard pile and then discard it on the same turn.

If the stock should run out before the end of the hand, set aside the top card of the discard pile, shuffle it, and turn it face down to form the new stock. (The top card of the discard pile remains face-up in the discards, keeping it available to be drawn.

When a player is satisfied with their hand, they say “Call” and place their hand face-up on the table. A calling player may discard their sixth card as usual if it is not part of the combination in their hand; if it is, they simply retain it without discarding. Each player then has one more turn to try to complete or improve their hand. If they have a combination that beats that of the previous player that called, they may call as well. This continues around the table to the dealer, with multiple players potentially calling with progressively better hands. The dealer is always the last player to play and get the opportunity to call. (If the dealer was the first to call, the dealer wins automatically, as no other players get a chance to call or improve their hands.)

Winning combinations in Paiute are:

1. Five of a kind
Five of a kind consists of all four of a particular rank of card, plus a wild card (example: 9-9-9-9-2 if 2s are wild). Ties are broken by the rank of the cards (five nines beats five eights).
2. Royal flush
A royal flush consists of A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. Competing royal flushes tie.
3. Straight flush
A straight flush consists of five cards of the same suit in sequence (example: 4-5-6-7-8♠). Ties are broken by the highest card; competing straight flushes with the same top card tie.
4. Four/two
A six-card hand containing four cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (example 8-8-8-8-4-4). Ties are broken by the rank of the four-of-a-kind.
5. Three/three
Two three-of-a-kinds (example 7-7-7-3-3-3). Ties are broken by the rank of the higher three-of-a-kind.
6. Paiute (two/two/two)
Three pairs (example Q-Q-10-10-6-6). Ties are broken by the rank of the highest pair, then the middle pair if there is a tie, then the lowest pair, if necessary. A paiute may only be called on the player’s first turn.

It bears mentioning that the traditional poker hands of flushes and straights are not considered winning combinations in Paiute.

The player or players who called with the highest winning combination win the game. If playing for money, the winner takes the pot (which is split if multiple players tie for highest hand).

See also

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Lowball poker

Lowball is a general term for a category of poker variants that turn the typical rank of poker hands on its head—instead of the best poker hand winning, the worst one does! A royal flush in a lowball game would be beaten by any other hand. Any poker variant can be played with lowball rules, and some games split the pot between the best conventional (high) hand and the best low hand. However, there are a few different ways that the lowest hand can be reckoned, which need to be established before you start playing.

Ace-to-five lowball

Ace-to-five lowball, or California lowball, is probably the simplest way of determining the low hand, and the one most commonly used, including in casinos. In this variant of the game, straights and flushes are ignored for the purposes of determining hand ranking. Aces are considered low. Therefore, the lowest (and therefore best) possible hand is A-2-3-4-5, which is also called the wheel or bicycle. (Because the bicycle is also a straight, it may well take both the high and low halves of the pot in split-pot games.) Note that pairs, three-of-a-kinds, and so forth do still count as hands, and will therefore be ranked higher (and therefore worse) than unpaired hands, even if they contain high cards.

Deuce-to-seven lowball

Deuce-to-seven lowball, also known as Kansas City lowball, takes straights and flushes into consideration when ranking hands, and aces count high. Thus, the lowest possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7 (because 2-3-4-5-6 forms a straight).

Ace-to-six lowball

Ace-to-six lowball is the least commonly-used variation, serving as sort of a middle ground between the two variants listed above. It is essentially deuce-to-seven lowball, except aces are low, so the lowest possible hand is A-2-3-4-6.

General considerations

Lowball hands are often quoted as their highest card. 8-7-5-3-2 may be called simply “an eight”. If there are multiple hands in play with the same highest card, they can be further disambiguated by the second-highest card, e.g. “an 8-7”.

Some split-pot games involving low hands may stipulate that a hand must contain cards below a certain rank. For instance, if a low hand is required to be “8 or better”, as in Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, all of the cards within the low hand must be an 8 or lower. In such games, if the lowest hand possible among the active players does not meet the requirements, the pot is simply not split, with the entirety being awarded to the player that won with the highest hand.

To determine which hand is lowest and therefore best, start with the highest card. Whichever hand has the lowest high card will win. If there are ties, the next-highest card is compared, and so on until the tie is broken. If you get all the way down to the lowest card without being able to break the tie, the pot is simply split.

Wild cards, usually jokers, can be included in the game, especially ace-to-five lowball. Wild cards generally become the lowest card possible without forming a pair. For example, 7-5-4-★-2 will count the joker as a 3 because counting it as a 2 would form a pair.

In split-pot games, if the pot cannot be split evenly, it is customary to award the odd amount to the winner of the high hand.

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Rank of Poker Hands Poster now available!

Rank of Poker Hands PosterOne of the most frustrating things about poker to new players is learning the hands and the order they rank in. Now, you can help your newer players with our new Rank of Poker Hands Poster! This poster makes an excellent addition to your card room, and is priced at only $5.99. Your players will appreciate it!

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Whiskey Poker


Whiskey Poker (sometimes spelled Whisky Poker) is an older variant of poker, commonly played in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fairly obscure today. Whiskey Poker was so named because it was often played for refreshments, and John Scarne asserts in Scarne on Cards that Whiskey Poker is, in fact, the ancestor from which modern Rummy games are descended. If you like Knock Poker, you’ll probably like Whiskey Poker too.

Object of Whiskey Poker

The object of Whiskey Poker is to end the hand with the highest possible five-card poker hand.

Setup

As with the majority of poker games, Whiskey Poker requires the use of one 52-card deck of poker cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need chips to keep track of betting; each chip can represent a nominal value, or a defined amount of money, as agreed upon by the players. Distribute chips as appropriate.

In place of betting, each player may also be supplied with an arbitrary number of chips (e.g., five) and whoever has the lowest hand at the showdown must surrender one chip to the bank. Whoever runs out of chips first pays for the next round of drinks. (If you decide to play this way, ignore instructions below regarding betting.)

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Between the dealer and the player to their right, deal an extra hand, called the widow. Move the widow to the center of the table, keeping it face down.

Game play

After players have looked at their hands, the first betting round occurs. Betting is conducted according to the typical norms for betting in poker. After the betting, the turn goes to the player on the dealer’s left. This player has the right to exchange their hand with the hand on the table, in its entirety, without being able to see it ahead of time. After this, the next player to their left may do the same, and so on. If you decide to keep your cards, you have two options: you may simply pass, or you may knock; knocking allows everyone one last opportunity to exchange hands, with this phase of the game ending when the turn gets back to you.

The second betting round happens now. After that wraps up, the widow is exposed. The player to the dealer’s left has the first chance to play. Each player may take one card from the widow, then discard one card from their hand, face up, to the widow. Players also have the option to exchange their entire hand for the widow, but they may not exchange, say, three cards at once; it must be one card or all of them. Players do not have the option to pass; they must knock if they wish to not exchange any cards. As before, play ends when the turn gets back to the first player to knock.

The third and final betting round now takes place. After this comes the showdown. The player with the highest-ranked poker hand takes the pot.

See also

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Five-Card Draw Poker

Five-Card Draw was once the most popular form of Poker played in the United States, and it’s one that most casual players are still the most familiar with, due to the fact that it’s among the simplest forms of poker. Although it has long since been upstaged by Texas Hold’em and Omaha in both casino play and many home games, it still has a loyal following in dealer’s-choice home games. Five-card draw was also used the basis for video poker machines, which were invented by IGT in 1979 and became a fixture on casino gaming floors in the 1980s.

Object of Five-Card Draw Poker

The object of Five-Card Draw Poker is to have the highest-rank poker hand at the time of the showdown.

Setup

As with most forms of poker, Five-Card Draw uses the standard 52-card deck. As usual, choosing Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is an excellent idea. You will also need poker chips to bet with. Players should determine betting limits, if any, as well as if any cards are to be designated as wild.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal five cards, face down, to each player. The deck stub is set aside and becomes the stock.

Game play

After players have received their hands, a betting round ensues, following the usual norms for betting in poker.

Thereafter, the player to the dealer’s left is given the opportunity to discard any number of cards face-down from their hand, and are immediately dealt the same number of cards from the stock, restoring their hand to five cards. (Note: some players’ house rules state that the maximum number of cards that can be discarded is four, and the held card must be an ace; otherwise, a player may only discard three cards. This is to prevent the stock from depleting too rapidly and to discourage players from “sucking out” on the draw.) Should the stock be exhausted before all players have drawn, the discards are collected and shuffled, and further draws are dealt from the discards.

After the draw is completed, another betting round occurs. After this betting round, the hands are exposed, and the player with the highest hand takes the pot.

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Follow the Bitch

A typical Follow the Bitch hand

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

The object of Follow the Bitch is to have the highest-ranked poker hand at the time of the showdown.

Setup

Follow the Bitch uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Happily, we offer such a thing on this website, in the form of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, which do an admirable job. 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.

Game play

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 a end total of seven cards. There is one final betting round, again led by the strongest player, and 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.

Low Chicago

Because vanilla Follow the Bitch can often fall prey to limited betting because one player is obviously showing a much higher hand than their opponents, 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, and 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 not 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. As a result, the betting is livened up by the players’ uncertainty whether a player is betting because they have a strong hand or because they have Low Chicago. Of course, if one player has both the strongest hand and Low Chicago, they take the entire pot.

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3-2-1 Drop

3-2-1 Drop is a simple poker game that only uses three-card hands. Like Iron Cross and 3-5-7 (which it greatly resembles), players are not directly betting against each other, but instead risking the amount in the pot for a chance at winning it.

Object of 3-2-1 Drop

The object of 3-2-1 Drop is to accurately judge whether you are likely to have the best hand, thereby winning money when you do and avoiding losses when you don’t.

Setup

3-2-1 Drop, like most poker games, requires the use of a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As always when such a thing is needed, choosing Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is an excellent option.

You will also need something to wager with. Chips are the best thing to use, but you could also bet with coins, Monopoly money, matches, or whatever is handy.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal three cards to each player, as well as an extra three-card hand to the pot.

Game play

All players examine their hands to determine what they hold. As this is a three-card poker game, straights and flushes do not count, and the highest hand possible is three of a kind. Additionally, the two red kings are wild. Players then decide whether to play or fold.

Now, each player holds their hand, face down, about an inch or so above the table (low enough that none of their cards are exposed but high enough that it’s clear they are not on the table). The dealer then calls “3…2…1…drop.” On “drop”, players wishing to fold drop their hand to the table; any player that keeps hold of their hand is playing it. The hands are exposed, with the highest hand taking the pot. Losing players pay the amount of the pot into the pot for the next hand, and players that folded are not required to pay anything.

In the event that only one person plays their hand, the extra hand dealt to the pot is exposed, with the lone player hoping to beat it. If the player wins, they take the pot, and all other players ante. If the player loses, they pay the amount of the pot, and the money remains there for the next hand.

Game play continues until the cows come home. The losers of the last pot of the session pay only half the amount of the pot directly to the winner of the final hand.

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Iron Cross

Iron Cross poker layoutIron Cross is a unique poker game involving five community cards. However, unlike Texas Hold’em and Omaha, you don’t get to use all of the cards…and you don’t even know what some of them are!

Object of Iron Cross

The object of Iron Cross is to win money by having the best poker hand possible using the four cards in your hand and a selection of the five community cards.

Setup

Like almost all poker games, Iron Cross uses the standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Like almost all poker games, you’ll have a better time if you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Deal five cards face down to the center of the table in the shape of a cross, then turn two of the cards at the ends of the cross face-up. (Refer to the diagram for an example layout.)

Game play

Starting from the player to the left of the dealer, each player examines their hand and determines which of the community cards they will be using:

  • Knowns: the two face-up cards.
  • Unknowns: the three face-down cards.
  • Row: the three cards (one face up and two face down) in the horizontal row. In the example image, this would be the 5♠ and the two cards to the right of it.
  • Column: the three cards (again, one face up and two face down) in the vertical column. In the example, this would be the 8♦ and the two cards below it.

Players also have the option to fold.

After each player has declared, the hands and the face-down cards in the cross are revealed. Whoever has the best poker hand, using the four cards in their hand and the cards they selected from the table, wins the pot. All other active players (not the ones who folded, however) pay the amount of the pot into the center of the table, forming the pot for the next hand. (Option: the amount that is paid can be capped at the amount in the first pot, to keep betting amounts lower, if desired.)

In the event that only one player doesn’t fold, or if all players but the dealer fold (the dealer being compelled to play if all other players fold), that player plays “against the pot”. After their hand is revealed, four more cards are dealt to the board (forming a three-by-three grid) and the player’s hand is compared to the best five-card hand that can be formed using the nine cards on the board. If the player wins, which is unlikely as they are facing a best-out-of-nine-card hand, they win the pot and all other players must ante again for the next hand; otherwise, the pot remains for the next hand and they pay the appropriate amount into the pot.

Game play continues until you’re sick of it. For the final hand, losers pay half of the amount they would otherwise pay to the winner of the final pot.

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