Fifteen Thirty-Five

A variant of 7-27 contributed by Arthur Buderick as one of the options in his Dealer's Choice Poker game.

This is a game for (say) 5 to 8 players, using a standard international 52-card pack. The aim is to make a hand whose total value is as near as possible to 15 points or 35 points - or near to both, which is possible since Aces and picture cards have dual values.

  • Each Ace can be counted as either 1 point or 11 points.
  • Each King, Queen or Jack can be counted as 0.5 points or 10 points.
  • Cards from 2 to 10 count face value.

The best hand is one that is worth exactly 15 and also exactly 35, for which it is necessary to use the dual values of at least two Aces - the hand A-A-5-8 is an example. Such a hand is called a 'Natural 15/35' and wins the entire pot, even if some other player ties for 15 or 35.

In the absence of a Natural 15/35 the pot is split between the player whose hand is nearest to 15 and the player who is nearest to 35.

After the players have placed the agreed ante in the pot, the dealer deals three cards each face down, and then beginning with the player to dealer's left and continuing clockwise, each player exposes a card of their choice until everyone has two cards face down and one face up. Then there is a round of poker-style betting in which players can check, raise, call or fold, begun by the player with the highest ranking exposed card (counting A highest then K, Q, J, 10, etc.) or the first in rotation of equally high cards.

Now the dealer asks each surviving player in turn whether they would like another card. If they accept, it is dealt to them face up, or if not they keep their hand as it is. There is then another round of betting.

This sequence: a round of offering each player an extra card followed by a round of betting, is repeated until either all but one player has folded or there is a round in which no one asks for a card. If all but one player folds the single survivor takes the whole pot.

A player who refuses to take a card when offered is allowed to accept a card in the following round, but a player who refuses a card in two consecutive rounds is 'frozen' and cannot be dealt any more cards, although they can still take part in the betting and the showdown. It may be convenient to use tokens of some kind to mark who has refused a card in the latest round and who is frozen.

When no one takes another card and there are two or more surviving players, there is a final round of betting, followed if necessary by a showdown between them. If anyone has a Natural 15/35 they claim the pot. If not, everyone must declare simultaneously whether they are competing for 15 or for 35 or both by holding a number of coins in a closed fist: 1 coin for 15, 2 for 35 or 3 for both.

The pot is split equally between the winner of the 15 competition and the winner of the 35 competition. In determining the winner, the priorities are:

  1. closest to the target total (for example 36 beats 33.5)
  2. 'under beats over' (for example 14 beats 16)
  3. 'fewest cards wins' (for example 34.5 in 4 cards beats 34.5 in 5 cards)

If everyone chooses the same competition, the winner takes the whole pot.

If anyone chooses 'both', they have to win (not tie) both competitions to win the whole pot. If they lose or tie either 15 or 35 they are eliminated and only the players who declared just 15 or just 35 are eligible to win the respective parts of the pot.

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Last updated: 20th October 2021