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Fun Home Poker Game Rules - Passover Poker

Fun Home Poker Game Rules -  Passover Poker 0001

I play sporadically with a group of older guys – mostly in their late 50s and 60s. They've been playing together since the 1970s. In this game they are just as they were then – children of the 60s. They are among the nicest and most laid back guys I've ever met. Their poker is meant to be fun, slyly but not too seriously competitive, and relaxed.

They've moved very gradually from the nickel, dime, quarter game of their youth to what is now a dealer's choice game where the dealer declares the limit of up to $5.00. Though the limits have risen in recent years, the seriousness of purpose has not. I enjoy their camaraderie and their light-heartedness. It is what makes the game fun and special.

During my last visit I was exposed to two games I had never seen before – and I introduced one as well. In this and my next two columns I'll tell you about each: Passover Poker (which was very timely because of the Jewish holiday of Passover in a few weeks), The Cross (which was also very timely now that I think of it because of the Christian holiday of Easter that is also coming in a few weeks), and Armenian Star (which may also be timely but I don't know why). They proved fun and interesting – the only important criteria for making my list of worthwhile dealer's choice games.

Passover Poker

This game is dealt exactly like Omaha8. Each player gets dealt four down cards, there's a flop of three cards, there's a turn, and there's a river. But there's one twist. After the flop, but before the betting on the flop, each player passes one card to his left. You make the pass whether you want to or not. You're dealt {a-Hearts} {a-Spades} {2-Hearts} {k-Spades}? The flop is {a-Diamonds}{4-Spades}{5-Spades}? It doesn't seem fair that you should have to bust up such a wonderful hand? Too bad! Pass one of the Aces, the deuce or the suited King.

Here's a hand from the other night. Keep in mind that most of the players were at least slightly stoned and very loose. Also, this home game has the rule that there are no blinds. Each player antes $1.00. On the first round, betting begins to the left of the dealer; but on subsequent rounds it starts with the last aggressor (bettor or raiser). Check-raising is allowed – but you'll usually get some good natured razzing if you do it. The best low is the A2346. Straights and flushes do hurt your low.

(The names of the players have been changed to protect the guilty).

The author reserves the right to invent some of the hands that were in fact unknown to him to make this article more readable and the game more comprehensible.

Phil Dealt. Hands read top to bottom, clockwise around the table ending with the dealer.

Betting Action Pre-Flop. $5 in antes to start.

Robb {k-Hearts} {9-Clubs} {2-Diamonds} {2-Spades} Check

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {9-Diamonds} Bet $1

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {4-Diamonds} Call $1

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {6-Spades} {4-Clubs} Raise to $6.00

Phil {10-Spades} {4-Hearts} {3-Spades} {2-Clubs} Fold

Robb {k-Hearts} {9-Clubs} {2-Diamonds} {2-Spades} Fold

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {9-Diamonds} Call $5.00

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {4-Diamonds} Call $5.00

Ashley, Laddy, and Derrick see the Flop. $23 in the pot

FLOP: {j-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {3-Hearts}

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {6-Spades} {4-Clubs}

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {9-Diamonds}

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {4-Diamonds}

This was a great flop for me, but the crazy rule that forced me to pass a card now was irritating. Under normal Omaha8 rules I'd be happy to keep a straight draw, a flush draw and both low cards in case one of them were counterfeited. As it was I'd have to pass to Laddy one of the cards that gave me a good combination. Fortunately, I could keep my low draw and my flush draw and my pair of Aces. So I passed my 6s.

Derrick passed me the {4-Diamonds}. And Laddy passed to Derrick the {9-Diamonds}.

After the "pass-over" (get it: "Passover") we had the following hands:

FLOP: {j-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {3-Hearts}

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds}

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {6-Spades}

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {9-Diamonds}

I was the last aggressor, with my $5.00 raise. So I began the betting after the flop and pass-over.

FLOP: {j-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {3-Hearts}

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} Bet $5.00

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {6-Spades} Call $5.00

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {9-Diamonds} Call $5.00

All three of us saw the turn. The pot was $38.00.

I was the aggressor on the flop so I once again began the betting.

TURN {j-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {3-Hearts} {10-Hearts}

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} Bet $5.00

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {6-Spades} Call $5.00

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {9-Diamonds} Call $5.00

I bet because I had two Aces, a draw to a great low, and a draw to the nut flush. Laddy had an overpair but no low possible. And Derrick had a draw to an awful low and a straight.

$53 in the pot. I was the last aggressor and so I began the betting

RIVER: {j-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {3-Hearts} {10-Hearts} {q-Hearts}

The {q-Hearts} was just about the worst card in the deck for me. It made a flush and straight possible, it made it fairly likely that someone hit at least two pair or trips, and it eliminated my chance for the best low.

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} Check

Laddy {q-Spades} {q-Clubs} {j-Hearts} {6-Spades} Bet $5.00

Derrick {8-Hearts} {8-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} {9-Diamonds} Call $5.00

Ashley {a-Clubs} {a-Spades} {4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} Fold

I figured that I must be beaten. I figured that even though I'd be getting 13:1 on my call, there were just too many ways I could be beaten by either the bettor or the caller. So I folded.

Sure enough I was third best – from hero to zero in one card. Derrick took down the pot with the weak end of the straight, beating Laddy's trip Queens.

I laughed it off, as did Laddy. They smoked some more, and I reached for a caffeine free diet Pepsi. After about three minutes of gabbing and breaking out some of the munchies (which included corned beef in honor of St. Patrick's Day) Robb called the next game, "The Cross". I couldn't wait!

Next time: "The Cross".

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