Phoenix Burn

Contributed by Tim Sharkey and Bob Conlon (


Guts variant with three cards dealt to each player and the "pot" is also dealt a hand. One or more players is always in (they're burned!)


Each player gets two down and one up. Before a player takes a card they indicate whether they want the card "up" or "down" until they have one up card (subsequent cards are down until they have three cards).

The pot is dealt a hand in progression, but all three are down.


Player with the high card (Ace high) showing is burned and is playing against the pot's hand and any other players that opt to be in.

The player at the burned player's left is given the first option to be "in", and so on. If no other players are in then the burned player plays against the pot's hand.


Best three card poker hand. No straights or flushes.

High hand takes pot and losers match the pot or pay the predetermined limit to the pot. If the pot's hand is the high hand then all players who were in match the pot or pay the predetermined limit to the pot.

Common Variants

  • Burned player may exchange his hand with the pot's hand for a predetermined fee (usually $1).
  • The last card is the up card (but, this takes away the grief the burned player suffers knowing they chose their own burn card!)


Tim Sharkey while living at the "The Phoenix" apartments in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is more than ten years old and has a wide following across the US.

It is best played by a group of buddies with multiple cocktails (no skill required, but lots of laughs).