Selecting What You Want to Play: Your Game Options

Home games typically have more game options than card clubs or casinos. The type of games is limited only by the imagination of the players. This section describes a number of the most common home games.

Seven-Card Stud

Seven-Card Stud is very popular and can be played high-only or high-low. Two down cards and one up card is first dealt to each player. Four more cards are dealt, three up, and the last one down, with betting intervals following each card. From the seven cards played, the best five cards win.

Texas Hold’em

In Hold’em, each player receives two cards face-down, and then a bet ensues. Then three common cards are dealt face-up, followed by a common fourth and a common fifth card, with betting intervals. The best five cards out of the two in your hand and the five on the board constitutes the hand.

Omaha High

In Omaha High, each player gets four cards face-down, and then a bet occurs. Then three cards are dealt face-up all at once on the board as common cards, with a betting round. Then a fourth common card is dealt face-up with a bet, with a betting round, and a fifth common card is dealt face-up with a common card and with a betting round. A player must use two (and only two cards) from his hand, together with three of the common cards. Hands in Omaha tend to be higher than those in Seven Stud or Hold’em because of the greater number of cards dealt out and the greater number of possibilities.

Omaha High-Low, 8-or-Better

Omaha High-Low, 8-or-Better (Omaha/8) is played in the same way as Omaha (four cards in your hand, five common cards ultimately on the board), but there is a high hand and a low hand that splits the pot. A qualifying hand of 8 or better is needed for a hand to be in contention to win half of the pot.


Pineapple starts with three cards dealt face-down to each player, and then a betting round ensues. Then three common cards are dealt face-up followed by a betting round. Then each player must discard one of the cards in his hand. Then a fourth common card is dealt face-up followed by betting, followed by a fifth common card face-up and then betting. The best five cards from the two in your hand and five on the board are played. Pineapple can also be played high-low.

Five-Card Draw

In Five-Card Draw Poker, each player is dealt five cards face-down. After the deal, a betting round occurs. After the betting round, beginning with the player on the dealer’s left, a player may discard one or more cards, and the dealer then deals her from the deck as many cards as she has discarded (the draw). A player doesn’t have to draw and can stay pat. (For example, if you already have a straight, flush, or full house, you should stay pat and not draw any cards.)

After the draw, there is another betting round, followed by the show of hands. Some games limit the number of cards that can be drawn, some not.

In one variation of Five-Card Draw, a person is allowed to bet only if she has a pair of jacks or better.


Lowball is like Five-Card Draw, but the lowest hand wins the pot. Ace always counts as a low card and A-2-3-4-5 is the best possible low. Straights and flushes don’t count, although some players play that 6-4-3-2-A is the lowest hand.

Like Five-Card Draw, five cards are dealt face-down, followed by a betting round. Then a player may discard cards to improve his hand, followed by a final betting round.

The best hand is referred to by the highest card in your hand. If two players have the same card that is the highest card, then the next lowest card counts. For example,

7-6-5-4-2 beats 8-6-4-3-2

7-5-4-2-A beats 7-6-4-3-A

6-5-3-2-A beats 6-5-4-2-A

No pair beats any pair. So even K-10-9-8-7 Beats 2-2-3-4-5.

Lowball is typically a game that should be played conservatively, waiting for pat hands or hands with one-card draws.

Five-Card Stud

In Five-Card Stud, each player gets one card down and one card up initially, followed by a bet. Then each player gets a second up card, followed by a bet. A third and fourth card face-up is given to each player, each followed by a bet.

The best high hand at the end wins. There are variations of the game where players are allowed to buy one or two replacement cards after all five cards are dealt. The game can also be played high-low, although in this variation, no minimum 8-low-or better is typically required.

A high pair in regular Five-Card Stud can often win the hand.


Baseball is typically a version of Seven-Card Stud, where each player gets two cards down, four cards dealt face-up, and a final card face-down. But in Baseball, all 9s and 3s are wild. If a 4 is dealt face-up, it entitles the player to an extra down card.

Baseball is a game where big, big hands often come up. With eight wild cards, you can see four of a kind easily, with straight flushes and five of a kind happening not infrequently.

Black Mariah

Black Mariah (sometimes referred to as Chicago) is a Seven-Card Stud game, except that the high spade in the hole splits half the pot. Sometimes Q♠ counts as the highest spade.

If you have the highest spade in the hole in the first two cards you get, you can keep betting and raising at will.

Indian Poker

Indian Poker is a one-card game dealt face-down to each player. Each player, without looking at his card, simultaneously places it on his forehead so that other player can see all cards but his own. Then there is a single round of betting, and then a showdown.


Razz is Seven-Card Stud, played low. Each player starts with two cards down and one card up. Each player must ante initially, and the high card on the board is typically required to make a small bet. Subsequent players may then call or raise.

As long as he stays in, a player gets ultimately a total of three hole cards and four exposed up cards. The best hand is A-2-3-4-5. The key to this game is starting with three low cards and being able to read your opponents’ hands and remember what cards have been already played and folded.

Crisscross (or Iron Cross)

Five cards are dealt to each player face-down. Then five cards are placed face-down on the board as common cards, in two intersecting rows forming a crisscross arrangement. The common cards are revealed clockwise, with the center card last, and with betting after each exposed card.

Two cards from a player’s hand and one row from the crisscross are used. The game can be played high-only or high-low.

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