Poker home game variations

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Bored of Texas Hold’em or 5-Card Draw? To better enable you to spice up your home games try some of these other variations:

  • Pineapple – You play this much like Texas hold’em, except that players receive three cards and discard one after the flop. To make it more interesting deal more than three cards (go as high as seven or eight if there are enough cards) and have players discard enough to leave two or three in their hand. Another variation I enjoy is to deal one flop, two turn cards and three river cards and to allow players to choose which of the options they want to make their best hand. Obviously these latter two variations result in some very big hands so bet carefully.
  • Golf – Each player receives four down cards but only gets to look at two of them. The game is played on a point system. Aces are minus one, kings are zero, queens and jacks are plus one and all other cards count the same as the number on the card. The idea is to get the lowest score possible by drawing from the deck and getting rid of your high cards. The twist is that you don’t know what two of your cards are so you could throw away aces or kings if you are unlucky. The game is usually played with four players and the deal goes clockwise. You play nine deals, or “holes”, and the lowest score wins.
  • Seven-card stud – there’s a lot of fun variations for this game, including Low Chicago, in which the low spade in the hole takes half the pot, or High Alabama, in which the high heart in the hole wins half. There’s also Low Hole, in which the lowest card down for each player is wild. This variation is normally played in which all cards are dealt face down and players have a choice of which four cards to turn face up. You can play standard stud high-low, in which the best five-card low hand of eight or better takes half the pot or razz, in which the low hand wins the entire pot. The wheel, or A-2-3-4-5, is best.
  • Five-card stud – this old clunker doesn’t generally induce action, but add about eight to 12 wild cards and see how many quarters or dollars suddenly get tossed into the pot.
  • Badugi – this one may drive you mad. Here’s the setup: each player receives four cards and must try to make the lowest hand with four different suits. The game is generally played with three draws. If no one can make four different cards of four different suits then the lowest three-card hand wins. The best hand is A-2-3-4. You can also play it with only three cards and the best hand here is A-2-3.
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