Four of a Kind

Contributed by William Moore of NY state, who says that it was "introduced" in a "family poker night" in the late-1950's (maybe '57 or '58), and became a rather popular addition to the games played. He taught to college friends in the late 1960's, but the regular Draw & Stud Poker games remained more popular with them.

Introduction

This game is for four or more players (best for six to eight players), using a 52 cards pack (no jokers). Although it is not strictly a type of Poker, it is typically played as an option in "dealer's choice" poker.

Ace is always ranked high, above the king. The object is to collect 4 of a kind (four cards of the same rank) or to have the lowest hand when someone else achieves this. Each of these players wins half the pot.

Initial deal and betting

Each player places the agreed ante into the pot. The cards are shuffled and cut, and each player is dealt one card face up. These cards must all be of different ranks. If a player is dealt a card equal to one already held by another player, that duplicate card and all remaining cards are re-shuffled and another card is dealt to the remaining players, until each player is holding a different card.

When each player is holding a different card, first betting round begins. The player holding the highest card begins and can "check" or "bet". If no one has bet yet, other players can check or bet. After a bet, players can either call or raise the bet or fold. The betting round continues until either everyone has checked, or the last bet or raise has been called by all players who have not folded.

For those not familiar with this form of betting, which is the same as in poker:

  • The ante is a fixed stake paid to the pot by all players before the deal.
  • When you check, you let your current stake in the pot (which is already equal to all the other player's stakes) stand as it is.
  • When you bet or raise, you add an extra stake to the pot. A minimum and maximum bet/raise should be agreed in advance.
  • When you call, you put enough money into the pot to make your stake equal to the highest amount contributed by any other player.
  • When you fold, you drop out of the play for that deal, and abandon whatever money you have contributed to the pot.

The betting round ends as soon as the stakes of all players who have not folded are equal.

In this game there is a limit of three raises per betting round. That is, after there has been a bet and three raises, no one can raise further. The only options then are to call or to fold.

This is a family game, played for small stakes - for example a nickel (5 cents) ante and bets and raises of a nickel or a dime would be typical.

Continuation of play and winning

Then, play continues. The dealer turning cards from the top of the undealt deck, one at a time. If the turned card matches a card held by a player, the card is given to that player. Each time a player acquires an extra card, the highest hand begins a new round of betting, as above. If the card doesn't match anyone's card, it is discarded, and the next card from the top of the deck is turned.

Play continues: turning the top card; giving it to the player who holds that / those cards, or discarding it and turning the next card. (Players who have folded are out of the game and do not receive any more cards.) There is a new betting round whenever a player "receives a card" equal to the card(s) they're holding).

The deal ends when a player has collected "Four of a Kind". At this point the High hand and Low Hand divide the pot as equally as possible between them (any odd amount going to the high player). The player holding the "Four of a Kind" will be high. The low hand is that of the active player holding fewest cards. In case of a tie the lower card(s) take the "low" half of a pot. For example the low hand may be the lowest single (un-paired) card, or the lowest "pair" if everyone has "matched a card" - maybe even the lowest "triple" if everyone has three matching cards. Remember that aces are always high.

Note: If you currently have the lowest hand you hope that another player will win quickly (while you can participate in the winnings, too). The only time you have a sure win is when you hold the lowest "Triple" when everyone has three matching cards. If you get a matching card you are high, and if another player matches you are low. The second lowest player hopes that the lower hand will "match" another card.