'Old Man' is a high-low game with a common card that is wild. The winner must not only beat other players declaring the same way as he. He must also beat the old man –a non-existent player's hand that is dealt out at the beginning but not revealed until the very end. Losers must match the pot.
Each player should ante an amount larger than a typical ante but not a huge amount – let's say $1.00 for this game.
Deal everyone three down cards and two upcards. Deal one card face down in the middle. Also, deal a hand of six down cards for "the old man" (a non-existent player). No one looks at the down cards held by "the old man".
Each player then looks at his cards, exposes one of them and then turns another down card face up and passes it to his right. Each player will then end up with one down card and four upcards.
Beginning with the player with the high hand showing, players declare whether they will play or fold. If they play they are in the hand. If they are in the hand they must put up another ante.
The center card is then turned face up. Note that this is done AFTER the players decide whether they will play. It is a mutual card, is wild, and all cards of the rank of the center card are wild as well.
All remaining players then receive another down card. After looking at it they declare, beginning with the player with the high hand, whether they will continue to play. If they continue to play they must put in two antes.
Players then declare, simultaneously, whether they are going high, low, or high-low. To win they must not only beat all other players, they must also beat the old man's hand, which is exposed at the end.
Right before they expose their hands and the old man's hand, each player must declare whether he will continue to a showdown for whichever end of the pot he has declared, by declaring "go" or "stop".
If he declares "stop" then he forfeits his ability to win the pot. He is out. If he has a single opponent who declares "go" then his opponent wins the pot that he was vying for. If he declares "go" and wins, either because he is unopposed or because his hand is the best hand in the direction he declared, he wins his share of the pot he was vying for. If he declares "go" and loses he must match the pot that he is vying for. If no one declares "go" then the pot is divided evenly among all players still left for that declaration.
Here's a sample game.
Six players: Jim, Eric, Nas, Fredo, Bottoms, and Ashley. Each antes $1.00. Pot is initially $6.00
The deal, going clockwise around the table starting to the dealer, Ashley's, left:
Jim: (x x x)
Eric: (x x x)
Nas: (x x x)
Fredo: (x x x)
Bottoms: (x x x)
Ashley: (x x x)
OLD MAN: (?????)
Players turn up one down card and then expose another down card and pass it to the right. Their hands look as follows after this is done:
After reviewing their hands they decide whether to play or not play.
Jim is the high hand showing. He goes first. He decides to play and puts in another $1.00.
Eric goes next. He decides to play too and puts in a buck.
Nas decides to not play and folds.
Fredo does not play and folds.
Bottoms decides to play and puts in $1.00.
Ashley decides to play and puts in $1.00.
And of course no one knows what the old man hand is.
The pot is $10.00
The remaining four players have five cards each. . It is a common card. It and all of its rank are wild. Each player is then dealt another down card. They have six cards: four face up and two face down. A center card is turned face up
The center card is the .
Each remaining player has the following hand:
The high hand showing is Jim's, who has his two exposed King and the new mutual wild card for trip Kings. He declares that he will play and puts in a double ante of $2.00.
Eric also says he's playing and puts in $2.00.
Bottoms, showing trip Jacks, plays and puts in $2.00.
And Ashley does the same, putting in $2.00 and driving drunk.
The pot is $18.00
Four players remain in the hand. They make their declarations as follows:
Everyone declares the same way, high. There will be only one winner for the entire pot. Now they must decide whether to actually risk matching the pot by declaring "go".
They make their simultaneous declaration of go/stop. One chip is "go"; no chip is "stop":
Realize that since no one declared low, they are vying for the entire pot. If they lose they will have to match the entire pot.
They expose their hands:
Ashley has the and in the hole. When combined with the wild mutual card he has an 8 high straight flush.
Jim is out because he declared "stop". He does not show his hand. He does not have to match the pot.
Eric has the and the in his hand. When combined with the wild card he has four 6s. He loses and must match the pot of $18.00.
Bottoms has the and the in the hole. When combined with the wild card he has Jacks full. He loses as well. He too must match the pot of $18.00.
Ashley has the best hand among the active players, with his 8 high straight flush. He must now compare it to the old man's hand to see if he wins the pot, or whether he, like his two opponents, must match the pot.
The old man's hand is:
. When combined with the wild it is trip Aces. It's also a great low: 6432A. But since no one declared low, this is irrelevant.
Ashley beats the old man's hand and so wins the entire pot of $18.00. Eric and Bottoms must match the pot, which stays in for the next hand. The game is played until either there is no one matching the pot or until the players decide the next hand will be their final hand. If they decide that, then the losers in the next and final hand pay the winner the amount of the pot. Players may also decide to cap the maximum amount that players will be required to match.
Assuming we continue to play this game, the pot begins at $36.00. When the pot is matched there is no anteing. Players are dealt their hand; the old man is dealt his hand; the players each expose a card and expose and pass a card; the wild card is dealt face up; players declare high, low, or high-low, and then they each declare "go" or "stop". The pot matching rules apply again, unless the hand was declared the last of the game, in which case the loser pays the amount required to be matched to the winner.
Let's continue for one more round and assume that this is the last round of the game.
The pot is $36.00. After the cards are dealt, down cards are exposed and passed, the final down card is dealt, and the wild mutual card is dealt, this is what each of the players has.
Wild mutual card:
Jim: (x x )
Eric: (x x )
Nas: (x x )
Fredo: (x x )
Bottoms: (x x )
Ashley: (x x )
Players declare as follows:
Jim: (x x ) HIGH
Eric: (x x ) HIGH
Nas: (x x ) HIGH
Fredo: (x x ) HIGH
Bottoms: (x x ) HIGH
Ashley: (x x ) HIGH-LOW
They then must decide whether to declare "go" or "stop". They declare as follows:
Jim: (x x ) HIGH Stop
Eric: (x x ) HIGH Stop
Nas: (x x ) HIGH Stop
Fredo: (x x ) HIGH Stop
Bottoms: (x x ) HIGH Stop
Ashley: (x x ) HIGH-LOW Go
No one wants to take on Ashley for either high or low, since he's showing a paired wild card and an Ace. His exposed hand, even without any down cards, is a perfect low – the wheel of 5432A. He has another 7 in the hole, giving him four Aces for high to go with his perfect low for low. He must still beat the old man's hand, however, before he can take down the $36 pot.
The old man has . He also has a pair of wild cards. Fortunately for Ashley, and unfortunately for everyone else, he can't beat Ashley's high of four Aces. The best he can make is a Queen high straight for high and an 8432A for low. Ashley wins the $36.00.
Had he lost, the pot of $36 would have been divided up among all of the players. Had anyone declared go and lost, they would have paid $36 to Ashley, since this was declared the last round of this game.