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Progressive Poker

A game based on Poker, but without gambling, contributed by Karlis.

Up to four players use 36 cards from a standard pack: AKQJT9876 of each suit. It is also possible to play with a full pack (52 cards) and this is necessary with more than four players. One joker (acting as a wild card) can be added to the deck if required.

The dealer deals three cards face down to each player. These are known as start cards. For a shorter game only 2 start cards each or 1 start card each can be dealt.

All players look at their start cards puts out one of them cards face up on the table. These face up cards form the winner pile, which will be won by the holder of the best poker hand, and added to their start cards for the next deal. (Normally the players don't look at each other's winner pile cards when putting out cards. This can be formalised by requiring every player to put their winner card out face down, and then turning the whole pile face up when everyone has chosen.)

Now the dealer deals 5 cards face down to each player, to make the player's hand. Players look at their hand cards, and can exchange as many cards as they wish between their 5-card hand and their remaining start cards. After exchanging, they must have 5 cards in their hand and the same number of start cards as before. (For example on the first deal, you will have 2 start cards, having contributed one to the winner pile. These are added to your 5 card hand and you choose which 5 of these 7 cards to keep for your hand, and which 2 cards to put aside as start cards for the future.)

However, in later deals, when players have unequal numbers of start cards, the player with most start cards is not allowed to exchange his regular hand cards with his start cards. If two or more (but not all) players tie for most start cards, none of the players with most cards can exchange. But if all players have the same number of start cards (as in the first deal), all can exchange.

Now each player in turn, starting to the left of the dealer, can discard any number of cards from 0 to 5, and is dealt an equal number of replacement cards. If the pack runs out at this stage, the discards are shuffled to provide replacement cards for the later players. After receiving new cards from the deck you are not allowed to exchange cards with your replaced startcards anymore.

All players show their resulting five-card hands, and the holder of the best hand takes the whole winner pile and adds it to his or her start cards.

Now once again, everybody (including the winner) puts one card of theirs into a new winner pile. The rest of the pack (formed from the players' previous hands and discards and any undealt cards) is shuffled, the dealer deals a new 5-card hand to each player, and the game continues as before - players can exchange cards with their start cards and then discard cards and receive replacements, and a showdown follows.

The process is repeated until a player has no start cards at the point when a card must be contributed to the winner pile. A player unable to contribute to the winner pile is out of the game. The others continue to play, and the last remaining player is the winner.

When the game is reduced to two players, the number of start cards should be even, so that a tie (where both players can exchange with their start cards) is possible. To achieve this, one card is removed from the winner pile if necessary at the moment when one of three remaining players has no start cards and fails to win the showdown. The card removed should be the last card that this player placed in the winner pile.

If there is a moment when you suddenly have to end the game (example: school bell), there is a "sudden death" option. Deal 5 cards to everyone (there is no winner pile) and everybody is allowed to exchange their start cards with their regular cards. After exchanging you have to have 5 cards in your hand (of course). The winner of the "sudden death" wins the whole game. This may give an unfair advantage to a player who is far ahead in start cards, so it may be better in such a case to play a few regular deals before the "sudden death".

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Last updated: 28th January 2005