Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Draw, and Stud. These poker variants have long been the staple of home games around the world. But maybe it’s time to try something different?
Home games, whether for real money or matchsticks, are all about having fun. If you’re looking for a different form of poker that you and your friends can all learn together in time for your next kitchen table get-together, we’ve got you covered.
Here are four fun and unique poker games you could try.
Unique quality: Passing cards to other players
The ability to stitch up an opponent by giving them three of your junk cards? That sounds pretty fun. The only problem is someone will be trying to stitch you up too.
Anaconda is a fun take on poker in which each player is dealt seven hole cards. After examining their hand and looking for the best possible five-card poker hand, players must then ruin it by ditching three cards and passing them to the player on their left. A round of betting follows.
Players must then get rid of two of their cards, only this time they pass them to the player on their right. Another round of betting ensues before each player passes one final card to the player on their left. A third and final betting round takes place, after which it’s time for showdown. Whichever remaining player holds the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.
We all know there are no friends at the poker table. But in a game of Anaconda, your seat at the table is more important than ever. Who do you want to stitch up the most?
Unique quality: roshambo-esque live reads required
Former PokerStars Ambassador Daniel Negreanu has waxed lyrical about his love of Vanunu in the past, as it’s one of the games he grew up playing in Toronto. According to Kid Poker, it helped him hone his poker talents, and with the number of different poker formats Vanunu combines, that’s hardly surprising.
Each player is dealt seven cards face down, which they do not look at. One at a time each player exposes a card and a round of betting follows each card as players wager that they have the best high or low hand. This continues until there are five cards face up and two down.
At this point, players have the option to ditch one of their cards in exchange for another. They’ve got to pay for the privilege, however, with a pre-determined amount going into the pot for an exposed card, and double that amount for a down card.
With their hands set (five up and two down), each player must then declare either low, high or both. This means they think their hand is the best low hand out there, or the best high hand out there, or both. All players do this by dropping chips (or coins) into the pot at the same time, so there can be no cheating (like a game of roshambo): one for low, two for high, or three for both.
If you declare both and your hand does not win both the high and the low, you cannot win any part of the pot. If there are only low hands out there, the best low hand scoops the pot. The same goes for high hands. Otherwise, the best low hand and the best high hand chop the pot.
With elements of seven-card stud, razz, draw games, and plenty of live reads, this one is sure to keep your next home game interesting. Who knows? It could help your poker game like it did Negreanu’s.
Unique quality: Community cards used must be adjacent
Like Vanunu, the awesomely-named Death Wheel is also commonly played hi/lo (although playing high is an option too). But there’s a particular element to it which makes it a fun yet infuriating format for your next poker home game.
Each player is dealt four hole cards, while six community cards are dealt face down in a circle in the centre. The idea is to make the best five-card hand using only two from your holding and three from the six community cards (like Pot Limit Omaha). However, the three community cards you use must be adjacent to each other in the circle (aka the Death Wheel).
There’s a round of betting when hole cards are dealt, then a community card is exposed followed by a betting round. This is repeated until all six community cards are face-up. However, you never expose adjacent cards. You must only expose a card opposite a face-up card, with the idea being you won’t know which three cards you can use until the end.
There are six possible three-card combinations you can use to make your hand, and with four cards also in the hole, the winning hand is usually a pretty good one, so you might want to muck your junk hands early on.
What makes it infuriating? Well, you might have made a royal flush, but if the cards you need don’t line up, then it’s a no-go.
Simultaneous (aka Holdemaha)
Unique quality: The PokerStars Blog team plays it
Now this game right here is a favourite among the PokerStars Blog team, and we’ve spent many hours playing it in hotel rooms and airports whilst on the road for poker events.
Compared with some of the other poker formats we’ve discussed in this article, Simultaneous is going to seem comparatively simple. All players get dealt six hole cards, and they must split those into two hands: a No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) hand (two cards) and a Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) hand (four cards). Once these hands are set, they cannot be changed.
The action proceeds like a regular PLO hand (the game can be played both pot limit or no limit, but as each hand creates so much action, you might want to stick to pot limit). There are rounds of betting pre-flop, on the flop, turn and river.
Players are playing both their NLHE and PLO hands simultaneously (it’s not just a clever name). If a hand gets to showdown, the player with the best NLHE hand will win half the pot, and the player with the best PLO hand will win the other hand. If one player has both the best NLHE and PLO hand, they scoop the whole pot.
The fun comes in figuring out whether your opponent has just one good hand–i.e. are they betting to try and get you off a chop, or do they have both hands covered? Then again, maybe they have nothing at all.
So what do you say? Have a game at home with friends, then come sit in our game.
We need some new blood.
While you can’t play any of the aforementioned games online, you can play more popular forms of poker for free on PokerStars. Simply click here to open an account.