HOUSE CARD GAMES

compiled by: Sanjay Udani 12/98

Feel free to copy/distribute, but please do not remove the credits. Send updates to udani AT acm.org

GENERAL RULES

The general rules of poker apply to allthe games below, unless specifically mentioned otherwise. The amount of the ante, maximum bet and default maximum match are all determined beforehand by the players.

Rankings (highest to lowest):

Five of a kind
Royal Flush
Straight flush
Four of a kind
Full House
Flush
Straight
Three of a kind
Two pair
Pair
Ace high

Ace is always high except when used to make a low straight (Ace to 5). In all lowball games, Ace is high.

 If all else is equal, the hand with the least number of wild cards wins. This is reversed in a low ball hand, so that the most wilds wins. If both players have the same number of wilds, then the person with the highest natural cards wins.

 Seven Card Stud: the core of most of the games. Each player gets a total of seven cards. The first two are dealt face down and a third is dealt face up to start the game. Bets are placed, and after that three more cards are dealt successively (with betting after each round) and the final card is dealt face down (unless specified otherwise)

 Five Card Draw: Basic draw game, with or without wilds. Players bet once, then change up to three (four if they show an Ace) cards before betting again.

Roll Your Own: instead of two down one up, all three of the first cards are dealt down and each player decides what to turn face up. A 4 face up at any time give the player the option of paying to have their next card dealt face down.

Blind: Players who look at their face down cards have to bet double of what the players who haven't looked bet.

Guts:  In general, Guts games have the players close their eyes while holding their card hands above the table. Dealer says "1-2-3-Guts" at which point those who want to stay in keep holding the cards while the others drop them. Those who hold compare their hands and the winning hand gets the whole pot while each of the losing players has to ante up an amount equivalent to what the pot was (up the limit as stated by the dealer at the start of the game). If only one person holds when Guts is called, the dealer deals out a ghost hand to be played by one of the players, and if the person who held beats that hand they get the pot and game ends. If they lose instead, they have to match the amount in the pot and everyone else is then redealt. If everyone folds when Guts is called, the game is redealt after everyone re-antes ("chicken fee").
 

 BASIC VARIATIONS

Basic variations which can be applied to most of the games described below.

BITCH - this variation splits the pot into two, with one half going to the winner of the regular hand, and the other going to the person who has the highest spade (Ace is highest) face down. In addition, the Queen of Spades ("Bitch") causes an immediate redeal is she is dealt face up at any time during the game. Only the players who have stayed in the game at that point are redealt - those of have folded before the Queen shows are not. When face down, the Queen is treated like any other spade. If only one player remains after any round of betting, the player takes the entire pot, regardless of whether he has a spade under. If two (or more) players stay till the end and neither has a spade under, the winner of the regular hand gets half the pot and the other half is considered ante for the redeal of the game with ALL players now included in.

BASTARD - Similar to Bitch, except: the highest diamond under gets half the pot and the King of Hearts kills the game but not immediately. If the King shows face up, the rest of that round is dealt and all players are asked if they want to "save" the game. A player can choose to save the game if they have the Queen of Hearts under and decide to turn it face up. A player cannot choose to save the game after the next round of dealing has begun. Regardless of whether the game is saved, play continues with until all the rounds have been dealt (and bet). If the Queen of Hearts shows face up, the game is saved. If the game has not been saved (assuming the King of Hearts came up) after the last card face up is dealt, the game is redealt to the remaining players.
 

THE GAMES

FIVES (usually with Bitch): Seven card stud with wilds. The wilds are are fives and any two cards that add up to five. The number 5 is a wild on its own, but the combination cards (i.e. 2 & 3 and Ace & 4) are both wild only if the player has them both. If a player has a 2 and two 3's, the 2 is wild and only one of the 3's (players choice) is wild. NICKEL AND DIME: Seven card stud with 5 and 10 as wilds.

MINNESOTA GUTS: Fours and Queens are wild. The called hand must consist of three cards, with three of a kind being highest (with three Aces the best). There are no straights or flushes. Each player is dealt four cards face down. Players look at their cards and the dealer does the Guts procedure described above. All the players staying in are then required to change either one or three cards with the deck. They then show their hands and the winner is declared. Dealer must call out pot maximum before starting the game, or it defaults to some agreed upon amount.

SOUTH OF MINNESOTA: Same format as Minnesota Guts, except Jacks and 3's (i.e. one less than in Minnesota) are wild, and players change either none or two cards.

LOW IN THE HOLE: Seven card stud with the the lowest valued card face down being wild for each player. Although the last card is normally dealt face down in stud poker, a player wanting to ensure no change in their wild card may purchase the last card face up for a fee determined beforehand by the dealer. * All Low in the hole games can also be called as High in the hole instead, with the highest card under being wild.

LOW DUCK: Low in the hole with the addition of 2's being wild.

HI LO: Seven card stud with the pot split between the highest and lowest hand. Cards are dealt as in the usual seven card stud, and right before the last bet each player takes two of thisr chips and secretly places one, two or none into their palm and closes it. Zero chips in the hand indicate they are going for the low, one chip indicates they are going for the high hand, and two show they are going for both hands. The dealer then asks everyone to open their palm simultaneously and players see who is going for what. Players can use any combination of five cards from their hand for each of the high and low hands. Players who go for only one (high or low) hand and win it get half the pot. Players going for both must win both to get the pot. If they lose one, the get nothing (the pot stays and game continues). If they lose both, they have to put in half the pot amount. If everyone staying in goes only for one hand (high or low), game is redealt with the remaining half of the pot left over.

FOLLOW THE QUEEN: Seven card stud. Dealer calls a wild before starting, and this wild remains until a Queen shows face up. When that happens, the next card face up replaces the previous wild. This continues through the game, and there are never more than four wild cards at a time. If a Queen is dealt as the last card face up, the game is "killed" and all remaining players get redealt.

ANACONDA: Players are dealt seven cards face down. They look at them, and there is a round of betting. Players then pass three cards to their left (or right, if so decided by the dealer) followed by another round of betting. This is followed by similar rounds of passing two and one cards. Winner is the player with the best five card hand. Dealer can call a wild at the start.

ANACONDA WITH THE TWIST: Same as Anaconda, except that after the passing of two cards, dealer pulls a card from the deck and the card next highest in valuse after that card is considered wild. For example, if a 6 is pulled, then 7s are wild. This wraps around so if an Ace is pulled, 2s are wild.

KINGS AND LITTLE MEN: Five cards are dealt face down to players. Kings are wild and the lowest card (little man) in each player's hand is wild. Each player is then able to change up to a maximum of three cards from the deck. The dealer then goes around asking each player if they are in or out. The first person to be asked this is rotated with each deal. THe players who are in then compare their hands and the rules of Guts apply for winning/losing.

JACKSON FIVE: Same as Kinga And Little Men, except Jacks and 5s are wild.

SCREW YOUR NEIGHBOR: Every player puts three chips in front of them. When they have no chips left, they are out of the game. Every player gets one card and has to decide if they want to keep it or not. If they want to change, they ask the player on their left to exchange with them and the player must do so unless they have a King (also known as the F*** You card). If the player has a King, they can decline to exchange by flashing the King. This exchange goes around till it reaches the dealer who has the choice of keeping his card or changing with the deck. All players then show their cards and the player(s) with the lowest card throw in a chip into the pot. The deal rotates with each new hand. This is usually the last game played in a session.

BUILD-UP, BREAK DOWN: Each player is dealt five cards face down. Ten cards are arranged face down in two rows of five on the table. The top row is the "build up" row, and the bottom row is the "break down" row. The first card of the top row is opened and there is a round of betting. The build up row adds to a players hand and can be used as part of their final hand. The break down cards remove from the hand, and the cards with the same value as the cards in the break down row are no longer usable in any hand. The top row is opened up first one then two and two cards. Same goes with the bottom row, with rounds of betting in between.

SHAFT: Each player gets two down, one up cards. Seven cards are placed face down on the table in the shape of a H, as shown:
A     B                          One card is opened (say F) and a round of betting is taken. The
C D E                          next card is opened in sequence (C-A-B-E-G-D) with betting in
F     G                          between opening the cards. After all cards are open, each player gets one more card face down. The players then use their four cards with a row of three (ADB, CDE, FDG, ADG, FDB) from the table to make their best five card poker hand.

OMAHA: Each player gets two down, one up cards. Five cards are placed face down on the table making a cross, as shown:
    A                               One card is opened (say A) and a round of betting is taken. The
B C D                          next card is opened in sequence (B-E-D, and C is the last card)
    E                               After all cards are open, each player gets one more card face down. The middle card (C) is wild. The players then use their four cards with either ACE or BCD from the table to make their best five card poker hand.

OKLAHOMA: Same as Omaha, except a die is rolled at the start. The wilds are the middle card, and the card with the value of the die together with whatever adds it up to the middle card. For example, if the middle card is a Jack and the die is 4, then all Jacks are wild and 4 & 7 together are both wild.

WASTELAND (with Bitch/Bastard) : Seven card stud, with 6's and 7's wild at the start. If the next card up or down in sequence (i.e. 5 or 8) shows up, then the previous wild is "dead" and all cards with that value are nulled. This goes on in sequence until the wilds hit 2 on the lower bound and Ace on the upper. A dead card cannot count towards a high spade or diamond.

ZOMBIE WASTELAND: Same as Wasteland, except once a Jack shows face up, everything resets back to 6s & 7s wild (i.e. dead cards live again).

FOUR-PLAY (with Bitch/Bastard): Seven card stud, with any number of cards that add up to four being wild. So four Aces together or Ace-Ace-2 or Ace-3 or 2-2 are all wild.

LIMITED FOUR-PLAY: Same as Four-play, but wilds can only be used as values up to the number 10. 69 (with Bitch/Bastard): Seven card stud, with 6's and 9's wild.

LOW BALL: Seven card stud, but the worst hand wins. The worst hand is 2-3-4-5-7.

MIDNIGHT BASEBALL: Each player gets seven cards face down and does not look at them. 3's and 9's are wild. A 4 gets you an extra card from the deck. The dealer opens a card from the deck, and the first player must open their cards one by one till they beat the card that was drawn. After betting, the next player opens to beat the first player and so on. If a player is unable to beat the previous player, that player is out of the game and no betting takes place for that round.

MIDNIGHT BASEBALL WITH LADIES NIGHT OUT: Same as Midnight Baseball except if all four Queens show face up, the game is redealt to all those who are either (i) in the game or (ii) left because they could not beat the previous hand. Those who folded early are not included back. DICE (usually Bitch & Dice): Seven card stud, two dice are rolled. The sum of the two dice is wild and the two cards with the face value of the dice together are wild. For example, if the dice show a 4 and a 5, then all 9's are wild and 4 & 5 together are wild.

DICE WITH REROLL: Same as Dice, but when a Jack shows face up, the player receiving the Jack has the option to reroll the dice to change the wilds.

DICE WITH FULL JACKASS: Same as Dice, but when a Jack shows face up, the player receiving the Jack has the option to change the game to ANY game that has been played so far that evening. The player can choose to not change the game, or to just reroll, or to call a game provided the key card for that game has not shown yet. E.g., a player cannot call a Bitch game if the Queen of Spades is already face up. HIGH HOE (with Bitch/Bastard): High in the Hole, with Queens wild.

STRAIGHT GUTS: Players all dealt five cards face down. They look at their cards and the dealer calls Guts just as in the other Guts games. Best poker hand wins. Dealer may call a wild.

STRAIGHT GUTS WITH BIG CHICKEN: Straight Guts, except if everyone folds, the person with the strongest hand has to put in an extra amount into the pot as the chicken fee.

WTF IS THAT GAME (max. 5 players): Each player gets ten cards face down and does not look at them. Two hands are to be made, one card at a time. The left side of the player's card pile is the low ball hand (with Kings being wild) and the right side is the high hand (with 3s wild). Players look at the card on the top of the pile and simultaneously put it onto either their low or high hand. This is followed by a round of betting (ten rounds total). The pot is split between the winner of the highest and the winner of the lowest hands. Auction Variation: If five players are playing, the last two remaining cards may be auctioned off to players. After the first five rounds of the game (i.e. five cards have been turned up), the game pauses and each of the two cards (still face down) is auctioned by going around the table and asking for bids. As long as the bids keep increasing, the auction continues. Once a player drops out of the bidding, they are out for that particular auction. The person with the highest bid gets the card and then looks at it and decides on where to put it. The second card is auctioned in a similar manner. A player can only win one card. The winners will then total 11 cards, and will choose the best 5 for one of their hands.

TWO CARD BURNThis is a guts variant where everyone is dealt two cards. The only hands are pairs and then the highest card. Everyone decides whether they are in or out, holds their cards face down above the table, and keeps their eyes open (we're all adults here). Dealer says "1-2-3-guts", and on "guts", everyone either holds or drops. If only one person holds, they get the whole pot (no ghost hand here), otherwise, winning hand gets the pot and any losers match the pot. Successive hands are dealt without reshuffling for as long as possible (thus, if many aces come out in the first few hands, queens and kings become possible hold cards, etc.)

COUNTRY STORE Seven card stud, dealer chooses a wild before dealing. Each player is dealt two cards down. Three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table---one is designated as the "free" card, one as the "nickel" card, and one as the "dime" card. Players take turns getting a new card, either by taking a face up card and paying the respective amount (i.e. nothing/nickel/dime) and replacing it with a card taken from the deck, or taking a card from the deck and paying a quarter. Cards taken face up stay face up---cards taken from the deck stay hidden. After everyone has a card, there is a round of betting. Play continues until everyone has seven cards. NOTE: If a player takes a wild card face up and does *not* win, he/she matches the pot and the game continues (w/ everyone who has not folded).