Poker Challenge

A non-gambling game based on poker hands for two or more players by Jerry Flugaur .

Equipment

Cards. A double deck made from two standard international 52-card decks without jokers (104 cards). Note: Aces are always high in this game.

Boards. Players build poker hands by placing cards on their board in the indicated positions. The board also shows the name and value of each hand. The board can be downloaded here as a PDF. It comes as two pages, left and right, which should be printed, ideally in colour on photo paper, and taped together side by side. They could be laminated before taping for extra durability. One such board is required for each player.

Objective

The aim is to score points by completing poker-like combinations either on the board or in hand. The hand types and their score are as follows:

Hand Type Number of Cards Description Score
Royal Flush 5 A-K-Q-J-10 of a suit 100
Straight Flush 5 Sequence of 5 cards in a suit 75
Four of a Kind 4 Four equal cards 50
Full House 5 Three of a kind plus a Pair 25
Flush 5 Five cards of a suit 20
Straight 5 Five cards in sequence 15
Three of a Kind 3 Three equal cards 10
Two Pair 4 Two pairs of equal cards 5
Pair 2 Two equal cards 2

Note that Aces are always high, so in this game, unlike poker, A-2-3-4-5 is not a valid Straight or Straight Flush.

Sets can include pairs of identical cards.

Note that combinations on the board can only score if the correct combination with the full number of cards is in the correct labelled position. For example nothing is scored for two pairs in the four-of-a kind position or a mixed suit straight in the straight flush position.

Any combination held in the hand of a player scores the same amount as the corresponding combination on the board.

Players keep a cumulative score on a score card, and the game ends when a player reaches 100 points.

Terminology

Tapping the table: This is done by players to indicate they have finished their turn.

"I call": Said to end the play when a player claims to have a winning hand.

"I challenge": Said by an opponent who thinks they have a hand that can beat the caller.

"I fold": Said by a player who does not wish to challenge the caller, so opts out of the hand, avoiding the penalty for an unsuccessful challenge.

Concealed hand: A player who calls and is not challenged can chose to score 15 points and not show any card. This option will be used by a player whose call was a bluff and whose completed hands are worth less than 15 points.

Preparation

Players draw cards from the shuffled deck to determine who deals first. The player drawing the highest card deals. Subsequently the winner of each hand is the dealer and first player for the following hand.

The cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to the dealers right. The dealer then deals the cards clockwise one at a time, seven cards are to each player. The first five are dealt face down for each players hand. The next two cards are dealt face up on each players board and are not to be picked up, but will be placed on poker hand(s) of the player's choice. The remainder of the deck is stacked face down as a drawing stock.

Play

Play begins with the dealer and proceeds clockwise.

Each player in turn, having looked at their five-card hand, places the two face-up cards they received in the deal onto one or more of the poker hands shown on their game board. After placing their cards, the player must tap the table to signal the end of their turn. Once a player has tapped the table, cards on the board cannot be moved to another poker hand.

After all of the players, have played their initial face-up cards, play continues in rotation. Each player in turn, beginning with the dealer, must draw the top card from the deck, add it to their hand, and then place one card from their hand face up on one of the poker hands on their game board, keeping in mind that they are trying to form a winning poker hand either on their board, in their hand, or both. They then tap to indicate that their turn has ended and the next person may play.

Note that the number of cards placed on any hand on the board cannot be greater than the number of cards required for that hand (2, 3, 4 or 5).

Play continues in rotation until a player calls, or all the card spaces on all the boards are filled, or the deck runs out.

End of the Play

Calling and challenging

Any player, immediately after drawing a card from the deck, may say "I call" to end the play . They then tap to end their turn. No card is placed on the board in the turn in which a player taps.

After a player calls, each of the other players in turn must draw one more card from the deck and then decide whether to challenge the caller or to fold and drop out of the hand.

  • A player who challenges does not play a card on their game board. They keep the card they drew in their hand, declare “I challenge”, and tap the table to end their turn.
  • A player who decides not to challenge declares ”I fold” and drops out of the hand by tapping to signal the end of their turn.

Players should not show any of their cards until all players have taken their last turn, drawing their sixth card and and either challenging or folding.

Note

  • Before a player calls they must draw a sixth card from the deck.
  • A player cannot fold until a call has been made and the player has drawn their sixth card.

Full boards

In a two-player game a position may be reached where all the card spaces on each player’s board are filled and no player has called. In this case the hand is cancelled and no points are scored. The player who dealt the cancelled hand deals again.

Depleted deck

When there are three or more players, the deck may be depleted before a player has called. If this happens, the hand is cancelled when the player who drew the last card completes their turn. No points are scored and the player who dealt the hand deals again. If a player calls and there are insufficient cards in the deck for all the other players to draw one, when the deck is exhausted the remaining players cannot draw, but must challenge or fold with the five cards they hold.

Scoring

If you are the caller and there are no challengers, you may either

  • show all your completed sets and score the total number of points assigned to them, or
  • declare a concealed hand and score 15 points without showing any cards.

The concealed hand option would be chosen when the scores for completed sets, if any, amounted to less than 15, for example when the call was a bluff.

If there is a challenger, the caller must show their completed sets (including any valid set that can be made from the player's hand) and each challenger must do the same. Then the highest sets of each of the players are compared according to the following criteria.

  • A set is higher than an another set if it scores more.
  • Between two equal scoring sets other than full houses, the hand containing the highest card is higher. Note that all suits are equal in value.
  • Between two equal scoring sets other than full houses with equal highest cards, the second highest card is compared, if these are also equal the third highest, and so on.
  • Between two full houses the set with the higher three of a kind is higher; if these are equal the set with the higher pair is higher.
  • Between two exactly equal sets, the caller's set is considered higher than the challenger's.

If the caller has the highest individual set, the caller scores for the winning set plus all other completed sets. If any challenger has a higher set than the caller's highest set, the caller scores nothing.

A challenger who has a higher set than the caller's highest set scores for all their sets, plus a bonus of 15 points. A challenger whose highest set does not beat the caller's best set incurs a penalty of 10 points.

So if there is more than one challenger it is possible for some of them to win and some to lose, but the caller can only win by beating all the challengers.

The "winner" of the current hand will be the next dealer. For this purpose the winner is the player with the highest set. In case of a tie for highest between two challengers, the tied players draw cards to decide which of them will deal next.

When one or more players reaches a cumulative score of 100 points or more, the player with the highest score wins the game. In case of a tie for highest, further deals are played until there is a single winner.

Irregularities

If a player fails to draw from the deck, and this is not realised until they have tapped the table to end their turn, the error is not corrected and the player plays the remainder of the hand with one card fewer.

If a player taps without playing a card on their board and has not called or challenged, thus keeping a hand of six cards, the player must play a card to their board as soon as the error is discovered.

Strategy

The caller may choose to bluff with a worthless hand hoping that he or she will not be challenged. If the caller is not challenged, the caller can then declare a concealed hand and can take 15 points without showing the hand, or may chose to show its winning hand if it’s worth 15 points or more.

Another example: If a player already has 85 points and needs only 15 more points to win the game the player may call. This makes it necessary for at least one opponent to challenge the caller in order to prevent the caller from winning the game with a concealed hand. (15 points)

If you have already have a completed a high ranked hand such as an ace high full house or four of a kind or higher, then rather than calling, you may do better to wait until another player calls, so as to win a challenge against them for an extra 15 bonus points, plus the value of any further hands you manage to complete while waiting.

Players may consider calling at their first opportunity if they think they have an impossible hand, knowing that they will not lose any points if they lose. However the player must be aware of the opponent’s score, because if the caller is challenged and loses the hand, the caller may lose the game to the challenger. Remember that a challenger who wins will get a 15-point bonus in addition to the total points for their completed sets.

The most important decision is where to place your original two face-up cards. Many times after your play is made, you will wish you made a different choice. For example, if between your two face-up cards on the board and the 5 cards in your hand, you have three of a kind, you must decide whether to try for a full house, four of a kind, or just go ahead and safely play your 3 cards on the three of a kind hand. Depending on what the present scores are, these choices are crucial.

Remember the possibility that if the hand lasts long enough the deck could run out or all the boards could be filled without a call, voiding the deal. So pay attention to how many cards are left in the deck. Remember that players are not permitted to play more cards in any board position than the hand type calls for.


“THE GAME OF POKER CHALLENGE“ is the sole owned property of Flugaur Games. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.