I play, or I should say I used to play, in a weekly pot limit home game. Two excellent players, and a couple of very good players dominated the game. There were a couple of us who barely held our own, and one large loser who funded the game.
To make the game fun, the traditional casino games were largely eschewed in favor of wild variations. Were it not for these weird versions of traditional games, the excellent players would have much more quickly and effectively convinced the fish that the game was no good. The mediocre players would have become bored. And the game would have ended.
As it was, the two excellent players made off with the lion's share of the money and the game died – after about a three-year run with them in it. It lasted as long as it did largely thanks to games such as the one I'm describing here: double pneumonia.
Double pneumonia is like Omaha8, with the 'turbo' button pressed. Each player is first dealt five cards face down. There is a betting round. Then two flops are dealt – three face up cards in two rows going across. There is a betting round. A turn card is dealt next to each flop in each row. There is another betting round, and finally a river card is dealt in each row.
Players make their best high hand and best low hand using two cards from their hand and three cards from the board — as in Omaha8 – the only difference being that they have five instead of four hole cards and two boards to work with. The best high hand in either row wins high. The best low hand in either row wins low if it is an 8 low or better.
So, for example, three players hold the following hands:
The boards are:
Ashley's best high hand is a King high flush, made by using his Kd and Qd with the bottom row's 4d8d and 9d.
Ashley's best low hand is a 7653A made on the top row by using his 7h and 6h in conjunction with the top row's Ac3c and 5s.
Ming's best high hand and best low hand is the wheel A2345, made on the top row using his 2d and 4h with the board's Ac3c and 5s.
Rick's best high hand is a Jack high straight made on the bottom row, using his Jc and Td with the board's 9d, 8d, and one of the sevens. His best low hand is an 86 low made with his 3h and 6s with the top row's Ac, 5s and 8s.
In this sample contest Ashley would win high with his flush while Ming would win low with his wheel.
One key to fun home games is having games that produce high value winning hands. Players like getting flushes, straights, full houses and quads. Though all hand values are relative – it just seems to liven up the game to have the relative values higher than in conventional games. It also helps the more skilled player to have his lesser skilled player not understand the concept of relative hand values. Bad players think that a flush is good – even if both of the boards are paired. He thinks that having a 65 low is a strong hand even though there are two wheels possible. He doesn't have the inclination or perhaps the ability to think beyond that list of hand values that has flushes and full houses near the top of the list.
The game also lent itself to a slight variation for times early or late in the evening when the table was shorthanded. If six or fewer players were competing we played double pneumonia with a 'bonus' card. Each player got dealt six cards. He discarded one after the flop, as in Crazy Pineapple. This further inflates hand values, which boosts the winning players prospects even further.