Home Poker Games

Below are a list of poker variations suitable for Dealer’s Choice games. We’ve tried them all and they’re a great way to change things up.

 

Halloween Themed Games can be found here.

Kings
Taps
Guts
Blackjack Poker
Go Low
Switch Blade
Colours of the Rainbow

 

Kings

Objective: Get the lowest number of points.

Each play antes to form the final pot. (No betting during the game)

Each player is dealt 5 cards face down. DO NOT look at the cards. Remaining cards are placed in a draw pile, with one card face up to start the discard pile.

Before the FIRST turn only, look at 2 cards. Memorize your cards, then place them face down again. Players will not know what the middle 3 cards are.

Each round, choose a card from the deck or discard pile to replace one of the cards in your hand. Cards are replaced blindly. Players must remember what all their cards are.

Players can ‘knock’ instead of taking a new card. This means all other players can take one last card to better their hand.

Count the number of points in your hand. Lowest total wins.

  • Aces = 11 points
  • Pair = 0 points
  • Kings = 0 points
  • Jacks and Queens = 10 points
  • All other cards face value

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Taps

Each player antes to form the initial pot.

Players will challenge each other with 2 cards, then 3, then 4, then 5 as a new card is added to their hand with each round.

Round 1: Each player is dealt 2 cards.

The first player makes a bet or says “pot” if they want to try to take the entire pot. Players can also pass, giving the right of first bet or calling “pot” to the next player.

Subsequent players have the option to fold (quit until the next series of rounds starts with 2 new cards), pass (out for this round, but retain their cards), or call the first player (match the bet and challenge).

All players who are in on the betting share hands between all players who called, secretly from the other players, and the loser(s) pay double the amount of the bet into the pot. The winner takes the amount bet out of the pot.

If the amount bet was “pot”, the winner takes everything. If they lose, they pay double the pot and the round continues.

Rounds 3, 4, 5: Add one card each round to a maximum of 5 cards, where poker hands come into effect. If there’s still money in the pot, a new set of rounds begins. When the pot is empty, the game is finished.

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Guts

Same rules as Taps, but players must beat a hand dealt in the middle to take the pot.

Eg) A player calls pot. No other players challenge. The better secretly looks at the hand in the middle. If they can beat it, they turn over the cards, take the pot, and the game is finished. If they can’t beat the middle, they pay double the size of the pot, leave the cards in the middle, and the game continues.

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Blackjack Poker

Each player is the dealer for a round.

If player and dealer draw, no bet is taken or paid (‘push’). If player has blackjack, payout is 1.5 times. (eg. If the player bets $10, payout is $15).

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Go Low

(by Joe Diederichs)

Each card or combo is worth points. The objective is to get the lowest number of points between all 5 cards.

Each player antes to make the final pot. Win the game twice to take the pot. (No betting during the game)

Each turn, players can draw from the draw deck, the discard pile, or ‘knock’, which gives the other players one last draw opportunity before the end of the game and points are counted.

Points:

Numbered cards are face value.

  • Face cards = 10 points
  • Aces are high or low (used in high or low runs), but high for points = 11 points
  • 2 of a kind = 2 points
  • 3 of a kind = 0 points
  • Run of three = 2 points
  • Run of four = 0 points
  • Four of the same suit = 3 points
  • Five of the same suit = 0 points

Eg)

7QQKA = 7 + 10 + 2 (run of three) = 19 points
8810JA = 2 (pair) + 10 + 10 + 11 = 33 points
A2347 = 7 points
6661010 = 2 points

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Switch Blade

(by Joe Diederichs)

Players ante.

Each player gets 5 cards. Deal cards into the middle, facedown, equal to the number of players. (5 players = 5 cards face down in the middle)

Each player discards one card at the same time. Player discarding the highest card gets to draw first. They choose from the face down cards. Repeat with the rest of the players until the cards in the middle are gone.

Remove all discarded face up cards. Players bet.

Repeat for 3 total rounds.

Best hand wins.

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Colours of the Rainbow

(by Joe Diederichs)

Players ante to form the final pot. (No betting during the game.)

5 card draw. 2’s wild. Three draws, maximum of 2 cards each.

Must get ALL of the following to win the game:

  • 4 card straight flush
  • 4 of a kind
  • Full house
  • Flush
  • Royal Jumble (AKQJ)

Players cannot use a hand towards more than one point. For example, a 5 card royal straight flush, 10JQKA of hearts, can be used as either 4 card straight flush, flush or Royal Jumble, but not all three.

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Halloween Poker Variations

Some variations of poker for a fun and friendly Halloween-themed poker game.

Monetary values are based on a game with a $20 buy-in. Feel free to modify.

Monster 7 Card Stud
Halloween Guts
Trick or Treat
Deadly Chicago

Monster 7 Card Stud

Halloween is full of monsters, and in this game, each one has a special power. Some are bad, some are good. But they are all unexpected when they jump out of the deck at us.

There are a lot of monster cards to remember, and each one can turn the tide of the game, so we’ll always be on our toes. 

Normal play of 7 card stud with the following special exceptions:
(only applies to cards face up)

  • Ace (the Reaper) – Player receiving an Ace pays 50 cents into the pot
  • Black Queen (the Witch) – person to the left of the player receiving this card discards the last card they were dealt
  • Red Queen (the Vampire) – player receiving this card pays 10 cents for each red card face up, including the bloody Red Queen
  • Black King (the Mummy) – player immediately receives an extra card hidden face down. Bonus!
  • King of Diamonds (the Werewolf) – player on the left of the receiver must expose one face down card of their choice
  • King of Hearts (the Suicide) – player must discard one card of their choice, from either face up or face down cards
  • Joker – next card face up is wild for every player who has a card of the same value (if next card is 7, all 7s are now wild). Jokers are not wild (dead card) unless the last card face up in the game is a Joker, then only Jokers are wild. Jokers face down are dead.
  • Jack of Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds (the Undead Knights) – Special cards both from their own hand and other players have no effect. Perfect defense.
  • Jack of Spades (the One-Eyed Thief) – steal one face up card from any other player
  • 666 (the Devil) – If any one player is dealt three 6s face up (in any order), or three 6s are dealt consecutively, face up, to 3 different players during the deal, all players must pay $1 into the pot

Can apply the same rules to 5 or 6 card stud.

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Halloween Guts

The object of this game is to grab a treasure horde guarded by a deadly ghost. We see who has the guts to take it, and who’ll get their guts spilled when they fail trying.

Players will challenge each other with 2 cards, then 3, then 4, then 5 as a new card is added to their hand with each round.

Each player antes to form the pot. (eg. $2 each)

Round 1: Each player is dealt 2 cards, and two cards are dealt face down in the middle (the Ghost hand).

The first player makes a bet or says “pot” if they want to try to take the entire pot. Players can also pass, giving the right of first bet or calling “pot” to the next player.

Subsequent players have the option to fold (quit until the next series of rounds starts), pass (out for this round, but retain their cards), call the first player (match the bet and challenge), raise (double the bet and challenge), or call “half-pot”. Only one raise is allowed per round (not one per player per round).

All players who are in on the betting share hands between all players who called, secretly from the other players, and the loser(s) pay double the amount of the bet into the pot. The winner takes the amount bet out of the pot.

If the amount bet was “pot”, the winner must beat the Ghost. If they do, they take everything. If they lose, they pay double and round continues.

If “half-pot” was called, the winner must also beat the Ghost, and if they do, half the pot is removed before any losers pay the amount of the full pot (double the bet). If the Ghost beats the winner, that player pays an amount equal to the size of the pot.

If no players call and challenge anyone calling “pot” or “half-pot”, the player must still beat the middle hand (the Ghost) to win.

Rounds 3, 4, 5: Add one card each round to a maximum of 5 cards, where poker hands come into effect. If there’s still money in the pot, a new set of rounds begins. When the pot is empty, the game is finished.

Special Rules

  • Raising
  • Calling “half-pot” anytime
  • The middle, Ghost, hand is always +1 for each card. So a Ghost hand of 25JKA becomes 36QAA. (Ace is max.) A hand of 228QQA becomes 339KKA. If the Ghost holds a straight or straight flush to the Ace, its cards do not change value in order to preserve the straight.
  • Devil’s Hand (natural 666) – Player automatically wins half the pot, regardless of the Ghost’s hand. Natural 666 beats any higher trips or poker hand. Losers all pay TRIPLE instead of double. All cards are discarded and a new round starts from 2 cards per hand. If the Ghost has a natural 666 (not including 555+1), the players automatically loses, pays triple, and the round is over. The next round starts with 2 cards.

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Trick or Treat

When Trick-or-treating, we go around to different houses, threatening to trick the homeowners unless they give us a treat. This game is similar. The Dealer threatens the players into paying treats. If the Player doesn’t pay, they have to play a game where the Dealer has an advantage. But when it comes to wins, Players bigger more than Dealers do. 

Imagine the Dealer is a snotty kid threatening to egg the house if they don’t get a bribe. Sometimes, the homeowners want to take less risk and just pay up. It’s easier. When the homeowners refuse pay, the kid tries to egg the house. Chances are, the kid will get away with it. But if the homeowners catch them, the kid really has to pay up.

One round per player. Each player is the Dealer for one round.

Dealer asks each Player, “Trick or Treat?”

If Player says “Treat”, they pay the dealer 5 cents.

If Player says “Trick”, they and the dealer play high-card-draw. But the dealer’s cards are all +2 in value, to a maximum of Ace.

Dealer 8 (+2) =10
Player 8
Dealer wins

If Dealer loses, pay 25 cents to Player.

If Dealer wins, Player pays 15 cents.

Dealer always draws first, and does not replace the card.

In the event of a tie, neither Dealer no Player pay.

Special Rules

  • Suicide King of Hearts automatically loses

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Deadly Chicago

Chicago is a deadly town where Charon, the grim reaper himself is king. Insane jokers wander the streets. Beatings, theft and murder plague us all. Buried bodies haunt us with the tell-tale beating of a ghostly heart. Only the strongest, and luckiest, will survive.

Players ante (eg $2 each)

Game is 7 card stud, similar to Chicago when played for points.

Must collect 6 points to win the pot.

Points come from:

  • Highest spade face down
  • Lowest spade face down
  • Highest hand
  • Monster hand (black JQK combined)
  • Tell-tale Hearts (red J, Q, K of hearts, face down, individually)

Players can collect multiple points per round. For example, if they have the highest spade face down, highest hand and a monster hand, they earn 3 points.

Highest hand, monster hand, and the J of hearts face down would be 3 points.

Special Rules

  • Jokers wild (but can only be used towards hand, not other points)
  • Highest total points in clubs (the beating) – that player steals a point from the person with the highest points. If more than one player has the highest number of points earned, the point is taken from the player closest to the left. (minimum 10 points in clubs to qualify)
  • Highest points in diamonds (the greedy bastard) – player earns 25 cents from each player (minimum 20 points in diamonds to qualify)
  • Murdered – player with red JQK combined automatically loses one point
  • Tell-tale Hearts – (JQK of hearts, face down, individually)
  • Charon’s payment – any natural 4-of-a-kind wipes all points off the table, leaving the player with 4-of-a-kind with 2 points and all other players with zero.

For counting suit points, numerical cards are face value, JQK=10, A=11.

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All variations designed by Timothy Baril.

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