Soko (Canadian Stud)

Soko, also known under the name of Canadian Stud Poker, is a variation on Five-Card Stud Poker that adds two new hands to the hand ranking. It is most popular in Finland, which is where it derives its name; sökö is a form of the Finnish word for check.

Object of Soko

The object of Soko is to form the best five-card poker hand, or to bet in such a way as to convince your opponents that you have the best hand.

Setup

Like all poker games, Soko uses the standard 52-card deck, without any jokers. We commend anyone who makes the correct decision to choose Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for their game. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.

As with all betting games, it is important to establish betting limits that all players mutually agree to and are comfortable with. Like most classic stud poker games, Soko is played with an ante, the amount of which should be decided ahead of time, as well as the maximum and minimum betting limits.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal one card face down to each player (the hole card), then one card face up.

Game play

Rank of Soko hands

Soko uses two hands that aren’t found in standard poker, the Canadian straight (or four straight) and Canadian flush (or four flush). Both of these are simply a straight or a flush, respectively, made of four cards with one unmatched card. A Canadian straight outranks one pair, a Canadian flush outranks a Canadian straight, and two pair outranks a Canadian straight. The remainder of the hands follow the standard rank of poker hands, so the full rank of Soko hands, from highest to lowest, is:

  1. Royal flush.
  2. Straight flush.
  3. Four of a kind.
  4. Full house.
  5. Flush.
  6. Straight.
  7. Three of a kind.
  8. Two pair.
  9. Canadian flush.
  10. Canadian straight.
  11. One pair.
  12. High card.

Play of the hand

The first action of the hand goes to the player who shows the lowest face-up card. (If there are multiple players tied for low, the one closest to the left of deal goes first.) This first player is obliged to make an initial bet called the bring-in. The minimum amount of the bring-in is only half that of the usual minimum bet (rounded down if the minimum bet does not divide into an even number of chips). If the player wishes to bet more than the bring-in amount, they may do so. The betting round is thereafter conducted according to the usual rules of betting in poker.

After the betting round, each player is dealt another face-up card, bringing them to a total of three cards. A second betting round is then conducted, with first action again going to the player showing the lowest hand, although there is no bring-in required on this or subsequent betting rounds. If any player shows a pair as their two face-up cards, the betting limits (minimum and maximum) are doubled.

Another card is dealt face up to each active player, then another betting round occurs, with doubled betting limits for the remainder of the hand regardless of what any of the players hold. This pattern continues, with more cards being dealt until each active player has a five-card hand (four face up and one face down), with a betting round following each card dealt. After the fifth and final betting round, all players still in contention for the pot reveal their hands. The pot is awarded to the player holding the highest hand.

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