Invented Poker Variants - miscellaneous
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Invented Poker Variants - miscellaneous


Contributed by Brenton (

This is a poker variant called switch which can be added to most other poker games. The primary bet is made. The deal of five cards (or seven, if that is the rule in your game). A round of betting and folding follows as usual.

Now the first switch is made. Each remaining player takes a card from their neighbor in the direction of play, all at the same time. As in old maid, you do not know what card you are going to take, and the player you are taking the card from does not know which one you will take. Each of the players fans out their cards, and then the player behind them, in order of play, takes a card.

Next the draw is made, if your game involves a draw. After the draw another switch is made. Then betting commences with raises, calls and folds as usual.

Screwin' Herman

Contributed by Ian Blessing (

This game is based on basic poker hands, but 5's are always wild. Deal two cards to each player. Everyone looks at their cards, picks one card to keep, and discards the other. Two more cards are dealt to everyone, and another card is thrown out. Now comes a round of betting. Two cards are again dealt to everyone, and another one is discarded. Everyone has three cards now. Go around and bet again. Now the last two cards are dealt, and everyone must keep them. Everyone should have 5 cards by now. Everyone bets for the last time, and then shows.

High Card Poker

Contributed by Andy Drew (, who says it is his party favorite: exciting, with a lot of bluffing.

Players: 3 to 8

Deal: 3 cards to each player, and an extra hand of 5 cards.

Each player secretly orders their hand from smallest to largest (aces high). Players are trying to get as many high cards as possible. After a round of betting, each player gets dealt two more cards and orders them into their hand. After another betting round, the player who started each betting round turns the extra hand face up and arranges them in order. Any player whose lowest card is not higher than the extra hand's lowest card is eliminated. Then (if more than one player is left in) the players' second lowest cards are compared against the second lowest card in the extra hand, and any players whose cards are lower are knocked out. This is continued, if needed, with the third, fourth and fifth cards until there is just one survivor, who wins the pot. If the last two or more players are knocked out by the same card, or there are two or more survivors after all five cards have been turned, the pot is carried over to the next deal.


There is a non-playing dealer who takes charge of the extra hand and arranges its cards in order without showing the other players. As dealer reveals these cards one by one, there is a further round of betting after each card is revealed.

Five cards are dealt to each player initially and no extra cards are dealt.

Five cards are dealt initially. After the first betting round, each player discards their two lowest cards and receives two replacement cards from the dealer.

In the final round, only the dealer's highest card is shown. There is a round of betting. The person with the most cards in their hand that beats the dealer's high card wins.

In case of a tie the pot is split.


Contributed by Ella Bowerman

This game for 3 to 6 players requires a 52-card pack (no wild cards) and one 6-sided die.

Deal seven cards face down to each player. The player to dealer's left can check or bet based on the player's hand. If the player bets, there is a betting round which continues as usual until all except the player who bet or raised have called or folded. If player #1 just checks, there is no betting round. Then the player #1 throws the die and whatever number comes up, player #1 selects that number of cards from his or her hand and passes them face down to the next active player on the left - player #2 if this player has not folded. This second player picks up the passed cards and has the same choices as the first player.

This continues around the table, skipping any players who fold before the turn to roll reaches them. At your turn you either check and roll the die, or you bet, which initiates a complete betting round, and roll after the stakes are equalised. You then select as many cards from your hand as the number you rolled and pass them to the next active player.

It's possible that a player might choose to bet at their turn, but then fold during the consequent betting round when raised by another player. The player who began the betting must still roll the die and pass cards.

The turn to bet and roll passes once around the table. When all the active players have rolled and passed cards, any players left without enough cards to make up a five card hand are dealt enough replacement cards from the deck to make up their hands to five cards. Then there is one last round of betting, followed by a showdown in which the best five card hand wins.

In a 3-player or 4-player game the dealer can deal 11 cards each and specify that the turn to roll and pass will go twice around the table rather than just once.

Mystery Wheelbarrow

Created by Richard Peluso and Jason McCrone

A maximum of four players can play, the game requires a normal 52-card deck of playing cards (Jokers removed).

Each player gets dealt three cards, which they keep hidden from the other players. Then, five cards are dealt face up on the table in the shape of a pentagon. One card is then placed face down in the middle of it. This is the mystery card. These six table cards form the "wheelbarrow".

Then in turns, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, players can exchange one of their cards for one of the cards in the wheelbarrow. For example, if they want to swap one of their cards for one of the face up ones, they can do so, placing their discarded card in place of the picked up one (face up). However, if a player wishes to pick up the mystery card, they can do so, but they must place their card face down where the mystery card was, thus causing additional mayhem. Note: a player can pick up the mystery card and look at it before they throw down, but they must keep it as soon as they pick it up (the player can choose to look at the mystery card and put it back if they don't want it, but their turn ends).

Each player gets two trade ins. If you wish to keep all three cards in your hand, say "puncture" and your turn ends. When each player had had two turns each, the mystery card is turned over, and players make their best five card poker hand, which must include all three cards in their hand. So in deciding a winner, normal poker hand rules apply.

Betting: This game can be played for a fixed stake or with normal poker betting. In the latter case there would be a betting round after the deal to the players, a second after the wheelbarrow had been dealt, a third after the first round of trading, and a fourth just before the showdown.

3-Hole Poker

Contributed anonymously.

Best for 2-6 players.

Players ante and each is dealt 3 cards face down.

Players look at their cards and there is a betting interval.

The players who have not folded then select one card from their hand and place it face up on the table. All players do this simultaneously so that their selection does not influence other players.

There is another betting interval.

A second card from each player who has not folded is placed face up in the same manner as the first.

There is a third and final betting interval.

All players still in the pot show their final card. The best hand is selected using ALL 3 of the player's own cards plus any other 2 cards showing on the table, including cards revealed by players who may have folded in betting rounds 2 and 3.

Tips to the Fat One

Contributed by Alan Kross-Vinson

This is a two-player game with five unequal pots, the object being to win as much money from the pots as possible. The pots are placed side by side in a line between the two players. They progress in size from one end to the other. For this example, each player will contribute 2 to pot A, 3 to pot B, 4 to pot C, 6 to pot D, and 9 to pot E. Any amount of money or tokens can be used, but should follow this formula: A<B, C=A+B-1, D=B+C-1, E=C+D-1.

Ten cards are dealt to each player. Players make a five card poker hand and lay it face down in front of them. Five more cards are dealt to each player then again, and each again lays a five card poker hand face down. This is repeated until there are just two cards left. Each player must make two hands with their last 10 cards. Then each player assigns each of their hands to a different pot by moving it close to that pot, still face down, ready for a showdown from pot A to pot E. Typically, players might put their worst hands at pot A and best hands at pot E. But here's where strategy comes in - if you feel your best hand may not win pot E, you might scrap that pot by putting your worst hand there and try to win the other four pots. Of course, your opponent may be thinking the same thing.

There are two notable variations to this game. One is to place the last two cards in the deck face up near the E pot and they can be used as community cards for that hand. The other is to deal 15 cards to start and replace 5 cards at a time. This gives players the opportunity to make much bigger hands, lots of flushes and full houses.

Bonus Round

A variant on dealer's choice poker by Jason Krueger

This is not a single game, but way of organising a whole card evening, as an alternative to dealer's choice poker in which the dealer selects the variant to be played.

You need a randomising device. Jason suggests a 20-sided die (obtainable from specialist game stores) or a Prize Wheel, but a pair of 6-sided dice of different colors is a practical and maybe preferable alternative. Then you list the game variants you like to play and assign them to the different outcomes. Now, before each deal, instead of pondering what game to play, the dealer simply rolls the die (or dice) and you play the indicated game. If using two six-sided dice, they should be read in a particular order - for example if you have a red die and a white die, always read them in the order red-white, so that 2-5 can designate a different game from 5-2. So with a pair of dice you can have 36 possible variants, which for convenience of reference you can list in a 6x6 grid. If you have fewer games or if you prefer some games to others, you can list the same game in more than one place on the grid.

Because the game selection is random, it is possible to include some outcomes that are "bonus rounds", which are special games that give an advantage to the dealer. For example when using two dice, the six "doubles" 1-1, 2-2, etc. could be bonus rounds. Jason gives some examples of possible bonus rounds:

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
The dealer rolls the die or dice and whatever result comes up is that player's 'lucky number' for the rest of the night. He gets paid a quarter by anyone who rolls that number during the game selection process. If he rolls his own lucky number when it's his turn to select a game, everyone at the table has to pay him a quarter. Each roll for the rest of the night becomes exciting to any player that has a lucky number.
Jack and Coke
Take a Coca-Cola deck and a Jack Daniels deck (found in many American department stores) and leave the Jokers in. Dealer shuffles both decks separately and places them side by side. Dealer takes the top cards off each deck and lays them down face-up. For a perfect match (e.g. 2 of clubs / 2 of clubs) everyone pays the dealer a quarter. For a value match (e.g. 2 of clubs, 2 of spades) everyone pays the dealer a dime. For two Jokers everyone pays 50 cents. The dealer continues dealing the top cards from the decks and comparing them until both decks are exhausted, getting paid whenever matches come up.
Everyone Loves Elvis
The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 15 cards face down. He then rolls a 6 sided die to determine the size of his bonus pile. One by one the player flips over cards from his original 15 cards. Any Heart is worth a dime from everyone. 'King' of hearts is worth a quarter from everyone. Once the original 15 cards are exhausted, the player has a choice of taking his winnings or risking them by going through his bonus pile. All payouts are double if hit in the bonus pile. However, if any Ace comes up in the bonus pile the player wins nothing and all money paid out from his first 15 cards is placed in the pot as a 'booster' in the next game played.

With the right group of players, the conversation when selecting the next game changes from 'Hmmm.... what should we play? How about... hmm...' to 'Come on! Bonus round... Bonus round...' with lots of excitement.

It would also be possible to have an anti-bonus result in which on a certain result the dealer has to pay everyone. That should give the non-rollers something to cheer for when someone else is rolling the die.

Rochester Poker

A five card game by Mark Brown in which players pass four, then three, then two, then one card to the left, each followed by a betting round. See this archive copy of his simple games page for further details.


Contributed by Les Stanwood

In this high-low split game, everyone is dealt six cards. Players look at their hands, and each in turn will have an opportunity to sell one of their six cards to the highest bidder.

First, players bid for the privilege of being the first to sell a card. The highest bidder pays the amount he bid to the pot. If no one bids, the player to dealer's left is the first to sell.

Now the first seller selects one of his six cards to sell, puts it face up in front of him, and may state the minimum price he is prepared to accept for it. The other active players bid to buy the card. The highest bidder pays the seller the amount of his bid, adds the offered card to his hand, and discards one card. If no one bids, or the bids do not reach the minimum price, the seller takes back the offered card and discards one card from his hand face down - this could be the card he was trying to sell or a different card. In this case the seller must also pay the amount of the minimum price, if any, to the pot.

After each auction there is a betting round, begun by the buyer of the card, or by the unsuccessful seller if it was not sold. In each betting round, there is a maximum of one bet and three raises, and a player who has checked or called is not allowed to raise subsequently in the same betting round. After the betting round, the next surviving player to the left of the previous seller offers a card for sale, and so on around the table, until all active players have had a turn to sell and everyone has five cards.

After the final betting round, the hands are revealed and the highest and lowest hand split the pot. (The showdown can alternatively be played with "chip declare").


Contributed by Charles Pierce,

Players ante as usual, then 5 cards are dealt face-down to each player. 7 cards are laid out face down in a row representing the journey from the base of the mountain to the top.

After the first round of betting, the first (base camp) mountain card is turned face-up. All players whose 5 cards cannot beat the first card must fold.

Then there is another round of betting after which the next mountain card is turned up. Again all players who cannot beat the mountain must fold.

This procedure is repeated until the sixth mountain card is turned up. Now players must fold if their hand cannot beat the best 5-card poker hand that can be made from the 6 face-up mountain cards.

After the seventh round of betting the final card at the mountain top is turned face-up. This time no one has to fold, but all cards held by the players that are the same rank as the mountain top card become wild.

There is a final round of betting followed if necessary by a showdown in which the highest poker hand wins.

If all players are beaten by the mountain and forced to fold before the seventh card, the money in the pot is carried forward to the next deal, and all players add a new ante.

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