Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back to basics pt. 2: Liar's Poker

I have to be honest and say that I find most styles of Poker, especially Texas Hold 'Em, to be exceedingly tedious.  The big decisions occur at the beginning when one decides to either fold or stay in.  I admit that there is skill there but sitting out more than half the hands bores me to no end.

Having said that, I'll still play Poker if someone asks as I like the act of gaming.  (Although I'd much rather be losing my money in a nasty gambling game like Cheapass Games' brilliant but out-of-print Renfield which is now available for free online here.)  So at the pub two nights ago, when someone said, "let's play Silly Bugger Poker", I agreed.  What followed was a fantastic little card game which played like the Poker equivalent of the classic Liar's Dice.  It scratched that Poker itch without causing any of us to lose any money (although I'm sure we could have gambled on who would buy the next pitcher, if we'd thought of it).  And all with a simple, regular deck of cards.  I forget how useful those are.

Here's the rules, if you're interested.  I think it should be called Liar's Poker, personally, since it is so similar to Liar's Dice, so that's what I'll call it here.  We played with five, although I'm sure you could play with more...

Liar's Poker (for around 5 people)

Deal every player one card face-down which they keep to themselves.  The dealer opens by bidding a specific poker hand that he thinks will be in all the cards amongst the players.  The next player has three options:

1)  Raise the bid with a higher poker hand.  For example, Player 1 opens with "Ace high".  Player 2 calls "a pair of Kings".

2)  Call Bluff on the previous player.  Everyone reveals their cards.  If the last player's bid cannot be made, the that player loses the round.  If the bid can be made from everyone's cards, then the the player who called bluff loses the round.

3)  Call Nuts on the last player (this is a house rule we played).  If you call Nuts, you are claiming that the previous bid can be made with the cards but it is the highest-valued possible bid that can actually be made with all the cards dealt.  This is a great bid when someone calls 4 aces and you think it is actually makeable.  If you are right, the previous bidder loses.  Otherwise, you lose.

Whoever loses the round is dealt another card in the next round.  So as the game progresses, the losing players have more cards to consider when when bidding on the possible hands, which actually balances things out quite nicely.  Once a player has 5 cards and they lose a round, then they are out of the game and not dealt into the rounds anymore.  So the number of cards (and possible value of hands) expands and then decreases in the end rounds.

We played a few extra rules, which you could include or leave out.  We played with 2's wild which makes the hands much more interesting and the bids a little more daring.  We also played that in the case of a flush or straight flush, you had to declare the suit and in all cases you had to name the rank of the cards involved.  For example, valid calls would be things like "straight King high" or "Spade flush Jack high" (which would fail if there were five spades, one being the Ace).

For hand rankings, click on the pic above to embiggen.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes...

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