Tired of playing Hold 'em or even Stud in your Dealer's Choice game? Want to change things up? But you still want to have an edge over the rest of the field – without having to think too hard. I have the perfect "crazy" game for you. It's my Christmas Present to you.
This game is crazy like a fox. It will interest the traditionalists in the room – and it is sufficiently bizarre to amuse everyone who plays it. It's 5-card Draw (for the traditionalists) played hi lo, with a declare, and with the players rolling their own cards at the end, and betting on each card as it is rolled face up.
Each player gets five cards dealt face down as they do in regular 5-Card draw. Hand values remain exactly as they are in a standard hi-lo game. We played with the A2345 being the lowest possible hand. But you can call it any way you want. Some people like to discount straights and flushes – not allowing them to be low hands. For them, the best possible low is A2346, not of the same suit. Others always consider an Ace to be high, except in a straight, and so for them the best possible low is 23457.
In any event, for the deal and the draw, the game is exactly like 5-Card Draw hi-lo. But when the betting is completed on the draw there are still five more betting rounds. Let me explain.
After the bet on the drawing round, each remaining player arranges his cards to determine the order in which the cards will be revealed, one by one. Each player then puts his hand face down with the first card to be revealed on top of his stack, and each subsequent card to be revealed sequentially below it. He then turns over the top card. The high poker hand showing has the option of beginning the betting and players bet in turn as they would in a stud game. After this betting round is concluded each remaining player turns over his next card, followed by another betting round, and so forth until all but one card is revealed for the players remaining in the hand.
With the betting round concluded following four of the five cards showing, there is a simultaneous declare and then a final betting round. When that round is finished the players turn over their hands and the pot is awarded – with half the pot going to the highest of the hands declaring high and the other half going to the best hand declaring low. Obviously, if all of the remaining players declare in the same direction, then the pot is awarded to only one winner.
Here's a sample hand. The game is $1 game but the limits double on each betting round: $1, 2, 4, 8, 16 etc. The wheel (A2345) is the best low hand. Straights and flushes don't hurt a low. Five players: Abba, Barry, Carl, David, and Froida.
Abba: Ks Jd 3c 2s Ac
Barry: 7c 7s 6s 6c Kd
Carl: 9s 8c 7d 4c As
David: Qs Qd 5d 3d 2c
Froida: Tc 9c 6h 5s 4s
Abba is the first player to act and checks.
Barry bets $1
Carl calls $1
David calls $1
Abba calls $1.
$4 in the pot
Abba draws two, discarding the K and J.
Barry draws one, discarding the K.
Carl draws one, discarding the T.
David draws three, discarding the 5, 3, and 2.
Abba is dealt the 3h and 5c for: 5c 3h 3c 2s Ac
Barry is dealt the Ah for: Ah 7c 7s 6s 6c
Carl is dealt the 3s for: 8c 7d 4c 3s As
David is dealt the 5d 5s and 2h for Qs Qd 5h 5s 2h
Abba bets $2. (He's decided to run an expensive bluff)
Barry calls $2.
Carl calls $2.
David calls $2.
$12 in the pot.
Abba rolls the: 5c (3h 3c 2s Ac are face down)
Barry rolls the: Ah (7c 7s 6s 6c are face down)
Carl rolls the: 3s (8c 7d 4c As are face down)
David rolls the: 2h (Qs Qd 5h 5s are face down)
Barry is high and acts first. He checks.
Carl bets $4.
David calls raises to $8
Abba raises to $12
Carl calls the $8 raise.
David calls the $4 raise.
$48 in the pot.
Abba rolls the: 5c 3h (3c 2s Ac are face down)
Carl rolls the: 3s 4c (8c 7d As are face down)
David rolls the: 2h 5h (Qs Qd 5s are face down)
Abba is high and bets $8.
Carl calls the $8.
David raises to $16
Abba re-raises to $24.
Carl calls the $16 raise.
David raises to $32, capping the raising.
Abba calls the $8 raise.
Carl calls the $8 raise.
$144 in the pot.
Abba rolls the: 5c 3h 2s (3c Ac are face down)
Carl rolls the: 3s 4c As (8c 7d are face down)
David rolls the: 2h 5h 5s (Qs Qd are face down)
David is high and he bets $16
Abba raises to $32
Carl calls $32
David calls the $16 raise.
$238 in the pot.
Abba rolls the: 5c 3h 2s Ac (3c is face down)
Carl rolls the: 3s 4c As 7d (8c is face down)
David rolls the: 2h 5h 5s Qd (Qs is face down)
David is high and bets $32
Abba raises to $64
David raises to $96
Abba calls the $32 raise.
Carl calls the $32 raise.
$526 in the pot.
They simultaneously declare as follows:
Abba declares low
Carl declares low
David declares high
David is the "lock" and has no competition. By house rules he may not initiate or escalate the betting. So the betting goes to the lower of the low hands to begin. That is Abba.
Abba bets $64.
Carl calls $64.
David calls $64.
Abba has the: 5c 3h 2s Ac 3c for a pair of 3s for low.
Carl rolls the: 3s 4c As 7d 8c for the winning low hand of an 8 low
David rolls the:2h 5h 5s Qd Qs — and is the uncontested winner for high with two pair
$718 is split between Carl and David, who win $359 each.
I won't go into any strategy. But I will tell you that this game gives the skilled player perhaps the largest advantage of any home poker game. It provides seven rounds of betting – six after the hand is complete – for a player to exploit his advantage. And it provides the attentive dealer with many opportunities to gauge the strength of his opponents before he has to decide whether to bet and how to declare. I consider it, without question, to be the best game to call when calling dealer's choice. And assuming you're the only one in your home game to have read this article, you'll be the only one to recognize all of the advantages in it for you! Isn't that a nice Christmas Present.
Ed Note: Give yourself an early Christmas present by signing up at Full Tilt today.