Ipso

A betting game for 2 to 5 players by Steve Bradbury .

Introduction

In Ipso players bet on who has the best four-card hand. It is played with a standard 52-card pack, with Aces always ranking low, below the Two. There are no Jokers or wild cards.

There are eight possible hand types, ranking from highest to lowest as follows:

  1. Quad [Four Of A Kind: four cards of the same rank]
  2. Prial & Rider [three cards of the same rank (a prial), plus one face card (King, Queen or Jack) as the rider];
  3. Bouncer [four consecutive cards of the same suit, such as A-2-3-4 or 9-10-J-Q but not J-Q-K-A, because Ace is low, also known as a Flushed Run or Suited Sequence];
  4. Run [a sequence four consecutive cards, not all in the same suit];
  5. Flush [four cards of the same suit, not forming a bouncer];
  6. Pairso [Two Pairs of equal cards, such as Q-Q-7-7];
  7. Pair & Kickers [One Pair of equal ranked cards and two other cards, known as kickers];
  8. High Card & Tags [Any four cards not making one of the combinations above. The tags are the cards other than the highest of the four].

Betting

A Betting Round in this game consists of just one action by each player in turn, starting to dealer's left and going around the table clockwise. An action consists of paying some money to the pot or folding. There are potentially six Betting Rounds in a match:

  1. before the deal;
  2. after the deal;
  3. after first Exchange Phase;
  4. after second Exchange Phase;
  5. after third Exchange Phase;
  6. after fourth Exchange Phase.

Ante. In the first betting round, before the deal, each player must place a fixed ante. The amount of this ante must be agreed in advance. Players are also recommended to agree a minimum and maximum for subsequent bets.

At the beginning of the second betting round, the player to the left of the dealer must either place a stake (which must be at least the amount of the agreed minimum bet if any) or fold. If this player folds the next player has the same options and so on around the table. If all players other than the dealer fold, the dealer simply collects the antes and that is the end of that match.

After a player has placed a stake, subsequent players have three options:

  • Cover: add a stake to the pot equal to the amount added by the previous bettor.
  • Cover and raise: add a stake to the pot that is greater than the amount added by the previous better (but not more than the maximum if any)
  • Fold: the player quits the match. The player's cards are thrown in face down and any money already bet is lost to the eventual winner of the match.

Note that there is no pass or check option, and no concept of calling or equalising the bets as in poker. Each player acts just once in each betting round, and the minimum and maximum apply to the individual bets, not to the total amount staked by a player during a match. At the beginning of a new betting round, the first active player to the left of the dealer must but add to the pot an amount at least equal to the last bettor in the previous betting amount to stay in the game.

Example with five players: everyone puts in an ante of 10. In the first betting round A folds, B bets 20, C covers for 20, D covers and raise, putting in 30, E covers for 30. At the beginning of the second betting round B must bet at least another 30 to stay in.

In the event of only one player remaining, all others having folded, that last remaining player wins, and is entitled to discard his or her four cards face down without showing them to anyone.

If two or more players remain at the end of the sixth betting round, the match is decided by a showdown: the players who have not folded show their four-card hands and the owner of the best hand wins. The method of comparing hands is explained in more detail in the "resolve" section below.

In all cases the winner of the match takes all the money from the pot: the antes and the player's bets. The winner is also entitled to decide who will deal the next match. For example the winner might choose to deal the next match so as to be the last to bet, or might require the player to the right to deal so as to bet first in the next match.

Procedure for Dealing and Playing a Match

To decide who will deal the first match, the shuffled cards are spread face down, each player selects a card and picks it up, the cards are turned face up, and the player with the highest card is the dealer. The cards used to determine the dealer are returned to the pack. For subsequent matches, the winner of the previous match decides who should deal next.

The players place their ante. The dealer shuffles the pack, buries the top card, and then the cards one at a time to the players, beginning with the player to dealer's left and continuing clockwise until everyone has four cards.

The dealer now places the remainder of the pack face down on the table where it becomes the Face Down Stock Pile -- the top card of that pile is flipped over and placed face up on the table where it becomes the Face Up Flip Pile. As the match progresses, there will additionally be a Face Down Discard Pile and a Face Up Discard Pile - a total of four piles. The two discard piles are initially empty.

The players look at their cards and there is a betting round, followed by the first exchange phase.

In an exchange phase, each active player in turn, beginning with the first active player to the dealer's left, has a chance to exchange one card from hand for a replacement card. This replacement card can be the top card of any of the four piles that is not empty, at the player's choice. The player first places the card to be exchanged immediately in front of where he or she is sitting, and then takes the top card of one of the four piles. If a face down card is taken, it is added to the player's hand without showing it to any other player. The exchanged card is then placed on top of one of the discard piles: face up on the Face Up Discard Pile if the replacement card was taken from a face up pile, or face down on the Face Down Discard Pile if the replacement card was taken from a face down pile. Finally, if the replacement card was taken from the Face Up Flip Pile, the top card of the Face Down Stock Pile is flipped over and placed face up on the table where it becomes the new Face Up Flip Pile.

Any player who does not wish to exchange a card can decline the opportunity saying "skip". This player keeps the same four cards in hand and it is the next player's turn to exchange.

After all active players have had an opportunity to exchange, there is the third betting round, then a second exchange phase, a fourth betting round, a third exchange phase, a fifth betting round, a fourth exchange phase, and a sixth betting round. All exchange phases follow the same procedure.

Resolve

When deciding which hand is best in a showdown, if two or more players have the same highest hand type, the resolve procedure makes use of the Pip or Stud values of the cards: A=1, 2 to 10 face value, J=11, Q=12, K=13.

  • Quad : the highest ranking quad wins
  • Prial & Rider : the highest ranking prial wins
  • Bouncer : the highest ranking sequence wins. In the event of a draw, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.
  • Run : the highest ranking sequence wins. In the event of a draw, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.
  • Flush : The card values are added and the more valuable flush wins. Example: 6-8-J-Q (value 37) beats 3-4-7-K (value 27). If the values are equal, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.
  • Pairso : The card values are added. So for example K-K-6-6 (worth 38) loses to Q-Q-8-8 (worth 40). If the values are equal, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.
  • Pair & Kickers : The card values are added. So for example K-K-5-7 (= 38) loses to Q-Q-7-9 (= 40). If the values are equal, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.
  • High Card & Tags : The card values are added. So for example Q-2-4-6 (= 24)  loses to  9-4-6-7 (= 26). If the values are equal, the pack is cut, and the highest card wins.