Mike's Universal Variant Rules For Poker Games
While most of the games outlined on these pages have
variants listed with them, many of them are lacking. In
fact, most games have (or could have) many more variants
than those listed. The variants I chose to list are ones
that I either a) have played or b) know a name for. The
latter being the rule, not the exception. Actually, there's
plenty of games I've played but didn't list because I
didn't have a good name for them -- you've seen the names
of some of the games, so you probably can't imagine how
I couldn't come up with a name. Anyway, this section is
meant to provide you with the tools of the trade. These are
the rule manglers that can transform an otherwise reasonable
game into one that evokes hatred, fear, a yearning for a
simpler time, or simply adds a bit 'o fun to the game.
Change the max/min bet. Possible choices include, but
are not limited to:
The maximum bet/raise allowed is equal to the amount
currently in the pot plus the amount to the caller. To
clarify, if there's $5.00 in the pot, and you're the
first better this round, then you can bet up to $5.00;
if you bet $5.00, the next person may raise the bet up
to $10.00 (the initial $5.00 + your $5.00 = $10.00).
Don't forget to count any lights twice when calculating
the amount in the pot.
The maximum bet/raise allowed is equal to the amount of
money, in chips, on the table. This implies that people
cannot purchase more chips during the hand, as that would
affect the maximum bet/raise.
- Change the maximum bet to some arbitrary dollar amount,
preferably something weird, like $2.55.
- Have a minimum bet. Make sure that it's fair, i.e. not
too high, and that it is determined by something other than
position relative to the dealer.
Add any of the following rules to a game, and see what happens.
These are the most general of variants, and as such each may
have examples rather than actual specific rules.
- Roll Cards:
Rolling cards is the act of revealing cards one at a time
and betting after each card is rolled. The most well
known game that has players roll their cards is
Anaconda (Pass The Trash)
and all of its variants. Another game that has it is
Midnight (Blind, Night)
Baseball, although when the betting occurs is slightly
- Twist Cards:
Players can get rid of a card in exchange for another card.
Usually, an up-card is replaced with an up-card, and a
down-card with a down-card.
- Split Pot:
There are many ways to split the pot, here are some
examples from games that we know and love:
- Match Pot/Burn: You can almost always come up with a way to make
a game into a match pot or burn game.
- Blind Cards: Players have down cards in their hands that they can't
look at. Midnight (Blind, Night)
Baseball, Indian Poker, and
(Guts Style) are good examples.
- Pass Cards: There are more ways to pass cards than there are
particles in the universe, but suffice it to say that you don't
always have to pass left or right, 3-2-1, 1, etc.. You could
pass across, or Heart's style; you could pass 1-2-3, or any
number of cards in any order you want.
- Take It Or Leave It: Based on the popular 5 stud game,
Take It Or Leave It.
Players get a choice for up cards, they can either take the top
card from the deck, which they get to see, or the next card blind.
- Roll Your Own: Based on the popular 7 stud game,
Players get up-cards dealt down, and then must flip a card.
The lowest card down is wild for that player.
- Pay for it: Make players pay an amount to the pot in order
for that player to do something like Twist or "Leave it" in
a Take It Or Leave It game. The amount of money depends
on the action being taken, so twisting an up-card or "Leaving It"
might be a low payment, like $0.10 to $0.50, whereas twisting a
card in 727 or getting a 3 up in
Baseball might be as much as
pot. Just make sure that the amount equals the action, nobody's
going to match put for a 4 in
- On event do X: This will be by example:
- Wild Cards: add wild cards, here are some suggestions for those
without an imagination:
- Duces, Treys, etc.
- Black Duces, Red Treys, etc.
- One-Eyed Jacks
- Suicide King
- Lowest card in your hand
- Lowest hole card in your hand
- Lowest Heart, Spade, Diamond, etc.
- Anything with a mustache
- The lowest card in the player's hand to your left
- Board Cards: These are cards that are flipped up in the middle
of the table, and have some meaning. Here are some possibilities:
Players act for other players: Have players choose what other
players will discard, twist, pass, roll, etc.. Players should not
look at each other's hands, but must choose blindly.
- Cards on the board are common cards, i.e. they can be used
by players to construct hands.
- Cards on the board mark wild cards, i.e. they may not be
common, but they dictate which cards are wild
- Players that match a card on the board have to fold,
discard that card, or perform some other unpleasant action.
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