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Poker “home” games

Although some of these games (notably Chowaha and Tic tac toe) have been played in formal casino settings, they are generally better suited to less serious low-stakes home games. They also lend themselves to ad-hoc variation, since the games themselves have not been time-tested for balanced play as have many casino games, so making variations is likely to make the game much worse.


Each player is dealt five hole cards, and then one community card is dealt face up to the table. After a first betting round, a second community card is dealt, followed by a second betting round. This continues until a fifth community card is dealt, followed by a fifth betting round and showdown. Each player plays the best five-card hand he can make from his five hole cards plus the five community cards in any combination. Some variants restrict each player to using exactly two of his hole cards (as in Omaha) or no more than two (as in Pineapple).

Iron cross

Each player is dealt five hole cards, and then five community cards are dealt one at a time followed by a betting round, exactly as in Cincinnati. But they are dealt in a cross pattern with a center card (dealt last) and four other cards to its left, right, top, and bottom. Each player plays the best five-card poker hand he can make from his five hole cards plus the three cards from either the vertical arm or the horizontal arm of the cross. A common variant is to make the center card wild, or the center card and all of the same rank wild.

One can also make a better game by reducing to four betting rounds: one after the hole cards are dealt but before any community cards are, then another after the left and right cards of the cross are dealt at the same time, a third after the top and bottom cards of the cross are dealt, and a final round after the center card is dealt.


Each player is dealt two hole cards and there is a round of betting as in Texas hold’em. After betting is complete the dealer deals three sets of three communities cards (F1, F2 and F3 in the diagram below). There is another round of betting and the dealer deals two turn cards (T1 and T2 in the diagram) followed by another round of betting. A single card is dealt (R1 in the diagram) and there is a final round of betting. Each player makes their best hand using both their hole cards plus three from one of the valid boards. There are four valid boards F1-F1-F1-T1-R1, F2-F2-F2-T1-R1, F2-F2-F2-T2-R1 and F3-F3-F3-T2-R1.

F1-F1-F1 \
F2-F2-F2 < > R1
F3-F3-F3 /

Chowaha is often played as a high-low split game in which case you can use one board for the high hand and another for the low hand.

Chowaha is occasionally played at low limits in casinos (usually in conjunction with B.A.R.G.E) and under must-drink, must-toke conditions.

Tic tac toe

In this game, each player will end up with two private cards, and there will be a board of nine cards arranged in a 3×3 square. Each player will make a five-card hand from a combination of his two cards plus any consecutive row of three on the board, either a horizontally, vertically, or diagonally (as in Tic-tac-toe). Variations exist in the number of betting rounds based on which community cards are revealed in what order. The simplest is probably to deal each player both hole cards then deal the three cards across the top of the 3×3 array before the first betting round; then deal the three cards across the bottom of the array followed by a second betting round; then deal the two cards on the left and right edge of the middle row, followed by a third round; and finally deal the center community card followed by a fourth betting round and showdown.

Another variation is to deal three or four hole cards to each player, though each player may still only play exactly two of them with any consecutive row of three from the grid.

A poker-like beginner’s home game is also called “Tic tac toe”; it involves dealing each player two hole cards and then dealing the 3×3 grid face up, followed by a single betting round after which players announce the best hand they can make from their two cards plus any consecutive row, column, or diagonal of the board as above. Hole cards can be redealt several times to the same board of community cards. This is primarily for practice at recognizing and evaluating poker hands.

Lame-brain Pete

Three hole cards are dealt to each player, followed by a first betting round. Then a single community card is dealt, followed by a second betting round. Play continues with a single community card being added to the board followed by a betting round, until there are four community cards, for a total of five betting rounds. Upon showdown, the lowest-ranking card on the board, and all cards of that same rank either on the board or in players’ hole cards, play as wild cards (thus, it is not possible to know exactly which cards will be wild until the end, unless a deuce appears on the board earlier than that). Each player makes his best five-card poker hand from his three hole cards plus the four community cards in any combination, with the low board card wild.


At showdown, each player will have two hole cards, and there will be six community cards on the board arranged in a circle (something like the even-hour marks on a clock). The rounds go like this: each player is dealt two hole cards, followed by the first betting round. Then two of the board cards at opposite sides of the circle (call them 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock) are dealt, followed by a second betting round. Two more opposite community cards are dealt (2 o’clock and 8 o’clock), followed by a third betting round. Finally, the 4 o’clock and 10 o’clock cards are dealt followed by a fourth and final betting round, and showdown.

At showdown, each player makes a hand by combining his two cards with any three consecutive cards of the board. That is, he can use 12, 2, and 4; or 2, 4, and 6; or 6, 8, and 10; etc. So cards dealt to opposite sides of the circle will never appear in the same final hand. With exactly two hole cards, there are only six possible choices for which hand to play. The game can be modified a bit by dealing three hole cards, where each player is required to use exactly two of them plus three consecutive board cards.

Spit in the ocean

While cards are dealt as in stud poker, at any time during the deal one player can call “spit”, whereupon the next card is turned face up as a community card. (This variant is mentioned in the Ray Stevens song Shriner’s Convention.)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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