Chicago, Follow the Queen, The Bitch and Black Mariah
In most of these seven card stud poker variants, a special role is played by the spades, the queens or the queen of spades.
This poker variant, also known as High Chicago, is a seven card stud game in which the pot is split between the highest hand and the highest spade in the hole. Face up spades do not count, so for example if the ace of spades is dealt face up, the king of spades in the hole is sure to win half the pot.
The cards are dealt as in seven card stud: two cards face down, four cards face up and the last card face down. There are five betting rounds: one after each round of face up cards and one after the final card. Each betting round is begun by the player with the highest hand showing.
After the final betting round the active players declare whether they are going for highest (face down) spade, highest hand or both. A player declaring both wins only if holding both the highest spade and the highest hand. Declaration can be either in sequence, starting to the left of the dealer, or simultaneous, using chips.
You must have a spade face down to be eligible to win the spade half of the pot. Without this, you cannot declare spade and win, even if all the other players are going for high.
In Low Chicago the pot is split between the lowest spade (ace counting high) and the highest hand (it is not a low poker game). Similar games can of course be played using any suit: for example in High or Low San Francisco the high hand splits the pot with the highest or lowest heart.
Follow the Queen
This is seven card stud in which when a queen is dealt face up, the next card dealt face up and the other three cards of the same rank become wild for all players. For example a player gets the Q face up and the next player is dealt the 7 face up: all sevens are now wild. If another queen is dealt face up, the previous wild card is cancelled, and the face up card following the new queen becomes wild instead. If the last face up card dealt is a queen, there are no wild cards. In the showdown the highest hand wins.
Some play that all queens in the hole are wild. In this version there can be as many as seven wild cards in play: three concealed queens and four wild cards created by an exposed queen.
Some play that if no queens are dealt face up, no one wins and there is a new deal, played for the same pot, involving only the players who did not fold on the deal without a face up queen.
Some play that if the last card dealt face up is a queen., the dealer deals one further card face up. This card belongs to no one, but the other three cards of the same rank are wild.
This is similar to Follow the Queen, except that the event that causes the next card to become wild is the appearance of a natural pair among any player's face up cards.
So whenever a card is dealt face up that is the same rank as another face up card held by that player, the next card that is dealt becomes wild (as do all cards that are equal to it), and the previous wild card (if any) ceases to be wild. If the very last face up card that is dealt creates a pair, then there nothing at all is wild.
Two details need to be clarified before playing this variant:
- What happens if a player who has a wild card face up is dealt a second (equal) wild card face up? My suggestion: these cards are equal so they count as a pair, and the next card dealt will change the wild card.
- What happens if a player who already has a natural pair is dealt a third equal card face up? My suggestion: this is not a new pair, so the wild card does not change. However, if a player has 5, 8 face up and 5's are currently wild, and the player is then dealt a second 8 face up, this pair of 8's is a new natural pair, and the next card dealt changes the wild card.
Some play that after a pair is dealt, the next card is immediately dealt face up to the centre of the table. This centre card belongs to no one, but all cards of the same rank as it are wild. Whenever a new pair appears, another card is dealt to the centre on top of the previous one, and this will normally change the wild card. In this version, a wild card is dealt to the centre even if the very last card dealt face up to a player is wild - so there will always be a wild card if any player has a pair showing.
Some play that each player's seventh card is dealt face up, unless the player pays a fixed price to the pot to have the seventh card dealt face down. By buying a face down card at the end you avoid the risk of changing the wild card if it pairs one of your face up cards, and also gain the advantage of having three rather than two cards concealed from the other players.
The Bitch in this seven card stud variant is the queen of spades. If the queen of spades is dealt face up, the deal and betting immediately stop, all the cards are thrown in and shuffled, and there is a new deal involving only those players who had not folded when the queen of spades appeared.
In the showdown the player with the highest hand splits the pot with the player who has the queen of spades in the hole (if any). If the queen of spades was not dealt at all the high hand wins the whole pot.
Some play that the queen of spades in the hole is wild. In this case the pot is not split.
This name is used for at least four different variants.
- Often, Black Mariah is used as an alternative name for The Bitch.
- Some play Black Mariah as a variant of Follow the Queen in which if the Q is dealt face up, the play immediately ends, as in The Bitch.
- Some play Black Mariah as a seven card stud variant in which you must have the best hand and the highest spade to win the pot. The high spade can be any of your seven cards, not necessarily face down. If the best hand and the highest spade in the showdown are held by different players, or if no one has any spades, no one wins and the pot remains for the new deal, in which only the players who were in the showdown take part.
- Sometimes Black Mariah is used as an alternative name for High Chicago.