Last updated 8 April, 2002, with new variants at end.

Transcribing "LASFS Poker Up-to-Date"

This is a listing of poker games that the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society used to play (or perhaps, still plays). This is the entire listing from over 20 years ago, including all the preliminary material. As you can see, they played a heck of a lot of different and strange poker games. The group at that time included Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, David Gerrold, and quite a few other pleasant folk. I found this list in an old storage box, hopefully someone out there will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed those old poker games. I've tried to copy it word for word, so if there's something you don't understand, there's a good chance I don't, either. Some of my comments to clarify various games are listed in brackets [***]. If there's an asterisk next to a game name, that means the author of the list deemed the game "unplayable".

I found out that this list was originally made up by Bruce Pelz of LASFS, who graciously gave me permission to post it on my web site. He's been with LASFS for over 25 years that I know of, and I was a little surprised to actually get ahold of him about posting this, but the fact that LASFS has a web site helped a lot. If you like science fiction and fantasy, you might check it out. LASFS

There are also a few games at the end of the list that I've encountered in the years since I played in this group, or games that have been forwarded to me by other poker players. Take a look, but take care, some of these are really nasty poker variants.

Tom Jolly


"The LASFS is, to say the least, game-oriented. We have gone through various fad games such as Diplomacy and Risk, through such mundane competitive games as bowling and miniature golf, and through various gambling games such as Brag, Bouree, Hearts and Oh Hell. There are also segments of LASFS that are, or have been, fanatics toward chess, Go, Bridge, etc.

The most endurable and universal game has been, of course, Poker. There was a time when it was played penny-ante, dime-limit, and losing two or three dollars in an evening of play was thought to be terrible. Although some of us still think it terrible to lose two or three dollars in an evening of play, the days of penny-ante and dime-limit are long-gone, replaced by table stakes and pot limit betting. The amount of money that changes hands during the evening is sometimes appalling -- especially to those of the minus-side.

A typical LASFS after-meeting poker session has two games. At the so-called cheap table, the players buy in for a couple dollars, and may play with as little as a dollar in front of them each hand. As long as they still have a dollar, they must play with that minimum, unless they are near to quitting the game, and announce they are "playing down" the loose change -- at which point , they can't put more money into the game if they lose. At the expensive table, there is a $5 minimum buy-in [this was $20 last time I played, 20 years ago], and no "rat-holing" is allowed. If you win, you entire stack of chips stays in front of you and is subject to being tapped. Needless to say, it is at the expensive table that swings of $100+ may happen in an evening.

With that much money involved, one would think that the LASFS would play reasonably sensible kinds of Poker, for which the odds can be easily calculated. One would, of course, be completely wrong. The games played are a collection of the most ridiculous inventions known to as motley a crew as ever attempted to shuffle a deck of cards. The purpose of this article is to catalog these games so we can keep track of them; the probable result of the article is that the inventive lunatics among us will use it to see what hasn't been invented yet -- and then invent new games to fill the lacunae. So let it be.

As a base of information, it will be assumed that one know how to play standard poker: 5 draw, 5-and 7-stud, and their low-ball equivalents. With a few exceptions, LASFS plays a wheel or bike (1-2-3-4-5) as the best low hand. When used at all, the Joker is called a Bug, and can be used in straights, flushes, low hands, or as an Ace. (Generally the cheap table doesn't use it at all, and the expensive table uses it all the time.) All split pots must be declared for, except the Maria games and Baton Rouge, by players taking two chips under the table and bringing up a clenched fist on top of the table, to be opened simultaneously with those of all other players still in the hand. If the fist contains no chip, the player is competing for best low hand, one chip, he is competing for best high hand, and two chips, he is competing for both best low and best high hand -- or "going Pig". A player declaring both ways must beat all other players in the directions they declare in order to win; should any of them even tie him, he loses everything. Thus the screams of anguish when two players pig, each beat the other one way, and the guy with the pair of fives splits everything with the guy that has the 9-low. However, with table stakes, it is sometimes worthwhile pigging a hand even when one knows he is beaten, if the guy with the winning hand has tapped out early [see below], and you can get a large side pot established, since a player can have no effect on a pot to which he has not contributed.

[editor's note; "tapping out" refers to the table rule that if you run out of money during a hand, you do NOT have to dig into your pocket to keep playing, you are in for the portion of the pot you have put into, and the rest of the hand is a free ride. Any bets made by other players who still have money go into a "side pot", which the tapped out player has no effect on at all. This has obvious plusses and minuses, and there can be more than one side-pot going on, since it's possible for more than one player to run out of money during a hand]

Visitors to the LASFS card games are almost always welcome; we're glad to take your money. Of course, if you only play standard Poker... ANACONDA; Seven card dealt face down immediately. Player passes three cards to left, receiving three from right. He then passes two, and finally one card. Two cards are then discarded and the remaining five arranged in order to be rolled and be as 5-stud, high-low [split]. A high full house and a wheel are usually winners.

ARCTIC CIRCLE; 7-stud high-low. Your *middle* hole card is wild both ways. If you have a pair down, both are wild. Aces swing [high or low], and can be split to make the third down card wild if you have two aces down. (Blame J. Minne)

ASSASSINATION; 5-stud high-low. A thoroughly nasty game where low hands get blown by face cards and small pairs on the last card, and a J-9-9-5-2 is probably a decent low hand (Blame R. Geis). [editor's note; it's just 5 stud high-low split, the explanation confuses it a bit]

*AUCTION-A-CARD; 7-stud high-low. Each round of up-cards, the cards are auctioned to the highest bidder as they come up. Once a player has a card in a particular round, he may not bid further during that round. Generally unplayable [editor's note; see "Market" under free games][also see "Granny's Kitchen", a very playable variation of this idea, after the end of the list].

BASEBALL; 7-stud high. Threes and nines are wild, fours get you an extra card at the end of the round. If a three is dealt as an up-card, it costs a quarter. (It can be played that up-threes make the player match the pot, or fold, but that is too much even for LASFS poker).

BATON ROUGE; 7-stud high-low; High spade in the hole, low diamond in the hole, best low hand, and best high hand split the pot [four ways], but player must declare all portions for which he is competing. (Player takes a red chip, a blue chip, and three white chips for declaration: red chip for low diamond; blue chip for high spade, 1 white chip for low, 2 white chips for high, and three white chips for both high and low poker hands.) As usual, if you lose any part of your several-way declaration, you lose it all. Playable, but messy, and has been banned at times. (Blame J. Pournelle)

BIG SQUEEZE; 6 card high-low with a burn [a discard]. (After the sixth card -- 1 down, 4 up, 1 down -- player may discard any card, in turn, and get a replacement. If he discards an up-card, the replacement is dealt up, etc.) In this and its variants, the best low hand is a 6-4-3-2-A, not all of the same suit. Straights and flushes count against you for low. The burn is not mandatory, but it is sequential for those who want it, thus giving dealer some advantage.

BLACK MARIA; the original 7-stud with the high spade in the hole splitting the pot. As originated, the Queen of Spades was the highest spade, then Ace, King, Jack, etc. It got too confusing as to what was meant by the high spade, so the game mutated to either ACE MARIA or QUEEN MARIA, q.v.

BLOODSUCKER: VAMPIRE, without the final burn. See under VAMPIRE for rules.

*BUY-A-CARD: 7-stud high-low. At each round of up-cards, the player may reject an offered card by paying a fee into the pot. For the first e rejects, he pays 5, for the second on any one round, 10, for the third, 15 , etc. The card is offered in turn to each player, who may pay to reject it or may take it. If all players eligible to do so pay to reject the card, it goes into the discard pile and another card is offered. The round continues until each player has accepted a card, at which time there is a betting round. Then another round of offered up-cards. The seventh card is dealt down, as usual, with no choice. After the betting round that follows the down card, there are two replacement rounds, costing 25 for the first and 50 for the second, if players wish to replace a card with the next one on the deck. Each replacement round is, of course, followed by a betting round. At long last, after 7 betting rounds, the hands are declared. This, like AUCTION-A-CARD which it spawned, is generally unplayable.

CALIFORNIA DRAW; straight 5 draw, open on guts [anything].

CHICAGO; 7-stud high only. Your low hole card and all others like it in your hand are wild. (Though sometimes played with the option of receiving the last card up in order to avoid undercutting your wild card, LASFS plays it with mandatory deal of last card down.)

DR. PEPPER: 7-stud high. Tens, deuces and fours are wild. Playable, but not very.

DR. TEPPER; 7 stud high-low. Tens, deuces and fours are non-existent cards, and you must have five cards in any low hand, so three non-existent cards kill you for low. (One can go high with anything.) (Blame J. Harness.)

DOUBLE JESUS; 5-draw. Deuces wild, and 1-eyed jacks (hearts, spades) count as any two cards. Best way to play is to fold immediately without one of the 1-eyed jacks on the first deal. High only, by the way.

ELEVATOR; 6-stud high-low, roll your own [starting with your self-stacked cards face down, turn them up one at a time]. All cards dealt face down, two the first round, one each of the next four rounds. Each round, player turns one of his two down cards face up. The one still left down, and all like it in his hand, are wild. Once turned up, a card may not later be turned down again.

ESCALATOR; 5-stud high-low with a burn [a discard]. Played as ELEVATOR except that the sixth round is a replacement round instead of adding a sixth card to the hand.

FIRE SALE; basically 6-stud high-low, but played only when there are 8 players. After the players are each dealt 6 cards, the remaining 4 are auctioned off, one at a time (the others remaining face down in the deck), to the highest bidder. The money is paid into the pot. After the fourth auction, each player discards enough cards to reduce his hand to five cards, which are then put in order and rolled.

*FLYING OUTHOUSE; 5-draw high. Deuces wild, 1-eyed jacks count as any two cards, and the King-with-the-Axe (diamonds) counts as any three cards. Fold any hand that doesn't have either the diamond King or both wild jacks. Unplayable.


*1492; 7-stud high, with aces, fours, nines and deuces wild. Unplayable.

FRANKENSTEIN; WEREWOLF without the VAMPIRE -- see BIG SQUEEZE (Blame J. Harness.)

GIRDLE SALE; BIG SQUEEZE at WOOLWORTHs. BIG SQUEEZE played with 5's and 10's wild.

GRODNIKONDA; (also called GROD); 7-stud high-low. All seven cards are dealt immediately. Player makes his best 5-card hand, discarding the other two cards, and roll the cards as in 5-stud.

HA-HA-HERMAN; 6-stud with a burn, roll your own. Generally BIG SQUEEZE, but with all cards dealt down and player deciding which to roll. At any time a player may decide to keep both cards down -- announcing "HA-HA-HERMAN" -- and from that point until the burn round, his cards are dealt face up. The burn may be, as usual, either an up or a down card. (Blame Fuzzy Pink)

HIGH-LOW; 7-stud high-low. One of the closest thing to actual poker played by LASFS.

HOLD ME; 7-stud high-low. Each player is dealt two cards, and five cards are dealt face down in the center of the table. One of the center cards is turned [over], followed by a betting round, then a second card is turned, followed by another betting round, etc. The "gun" (first chance to bet) passes, from the player on dealer's left at the first round, to the next player on the left at the second, and so on. Each player may use as many of the five center cards as he wishes to make up his best hand either or both ways. A low hand must have five cards.

HONG KONG; 7-stud low only. High hole card wild, and all like it in your hand. (The opposite of CHICAGO; same mandatory last-card-down rule.) (Blame Fuzzy Pink again.)

HOO-HAH; see HIGH-LOW; (A corruption of the words) (Blame B. Pelz.)

HOT PASTRAMI; 5-draw high-low. ("It's MURDER without the roll.") (Blame J. Harness)

*INCINERATOR; ESCALATOR, with a burn of a down-card permitted every round: A player is dealt two down cards. Everyone who wants to burn one of his cards does so. Each player rolls a card, and there is a betting round. Another down card is dealt around, and everyone who wants to burn a down-card does so. Then another card is rolled, followed by a betting round. Etc. The final burn, following the fourth betting round, may be up or down. Generally unplayable.

INDIANAPOLIS; 7-stud high-low, roll your own, with a final burn, and then a drive (a bet after the declaration). The drive doesn't happen too often, as most players are tapped out by that time [have run out of money].

*INSANITY; 7-stud high only. Deuces are wild if you have a 3 in your hand; threes are wild if you have a four in your hand; fours are always wild. And a natural pair of sevens rakes the pot. (If two people have a pair of natural sevens, they split it.) TOTALLY unplayable.

IT; 6-stud high-low with a burn. Five cards are dealt down immediately. Four rounds of roll-a-card-and-bet follow, then a sixth card is dealt down, followed by a betting round, a burn, and a final round of betting before the declaration. (Blame G. Knuth.)

JACKS BACK; 5-draw high only, open on a pair of jacks or better. If no one can open, it becomes 5-draw low only. This one is almost poker.

JACKS PROGRESSIVE; or REGRESSIVE); 5-draw high only, open on a pair of jacks or better. If no one can open, the hand is redealt, and opener must have at least a pair of queens (or, in REGRESSIVE, tens). Not playable in a Dealer's Choice game, as it ties things up. (Also in Dealer's Choice, only Dealer ante's to start the pot, and PROGRESSIVE works best when everyone has to ante, then, if the hand cannot be opened, everyone ante's again for the second deal, which is dealt by the next dealer.)

LET'S MAKE A DEAL; ANACONDA, but after the final pass of a card, each player must offer one of his seven cards for bid to the other players, keeping whatever money it brings. (If you have a hand that isn't worth playing, you can sell off a good card, otherwise, you sell off -- or try to -- one of your cruds.) (Blame J. Minne)

LIEBSCHER; 7-stud high-only, with the addition of three not-generally-recognized hands being possible winners; The Blaze (all face cards) beats any two pair but loses to three of a kind. The skip straight (A-3-5-7-9, 2-4-6-8-10, 3-5-7-9-J, 4-6-8-10-Q, 5-7-9-J-K, 6-8-10-Q-A, or A-4-7-10-K) beats three of a kind, loses to a straight. And the round-the-corner straight is allowable as the lowest straights (viz., a 4- 3- or 2-high straight). The skip straight may not go around the corner. (Blame D. Hulan, though the hands are cited in Hoyle.)

LINGERING DEATH; 7-stud low only. (Blame Fuzzy Pink for the name; see also SUDDEN DEATH, SLOW DEATH, and TERMINAL ACNE)

*LITTLE SQUEEZE; 5-stud high-low with a burn. SQUEEZE Rules (straights and flushes are bad low hands). Not playable because of the tremendous D.A. (Dealer Advantage).

*LOW FLYING OUTHOUSE; 5-draw high-low, deuces wild, 1 eyed jacks count as any two cards, the king-with-the-axe (diamonds) counts as any three cards for high, and as a zero for low, so the best possible low hand is 0-A-2-3-4. Quite unplayable.

MACKINTOSH; 5-stud high. Your hole card is wild only if it is paired. A player with a pair showing pays a quarter penalty into the pot.

MAKEABLE SEVENS; 7-stud high only. Sevens wild, and lower-value cards may be combined to make a wild seven, as long as the player has five cards in his final hand. Example; Ace-3-3 makes a wild seven, but you have eliminated two cards by combination, so you may not, in addition, combine a deuce and a five for another wild seven, since that would leave you with only four cards our of the seven you were dealt (Blame L. Atkins.)


METAPHYSICAL HYENA; Big Squeeze, but both down cards are dealt first, instead of one down, four up, and one down. {Blame J. Harness.}


MISERY; 7-stud high-low. You low hole card is wild for high, your high hole card is wild for low.

MOPSQUEEZER; 7-stud high-low. (As originally presented, it was high only, but... .) If a queen is dealt up, the card following it is wild, and so are the other three like it -- until/unless another up-queen is dealt. Wild cards dealt up cost a quarter, unless the recipient prefers to fold his hand. If the dealer's last up-card is a queen, there are no wild cards. After the seventh card (down), there is a burn. (Blame L. Atkins for presenting this thing originally, and see VAMPIRE, WEREWOLF, and BLOODSUCKER for what the LASFS turned it into.)

MURDER; 5-card draw, high-low, and roll. After an initial betting round, players draw to their best high or low hand, then arrange their cards in the order they want them to be seen, then turn them one at a time, with a betting round following each roll.

NIGHT BASEBALL; BASEBALL combined with NO-PEEKIE. Seven cards are dealt face down to each player, who may not look at them. Eldest hand turns a card, and a betting round follows. Best player turns cards until he beats the card turned by the first. (If it was a face card, he may have to turn a pair to beat it.) Rules are as in BASEBALL: 3's and 9's are wild, 3's cost you 25 into the pot, fours get you another card (face down at the bottom of your stack, in this case). If the second player turns a combination of cards to beat what the first is showing, a betting round follows; if he cannot do so by the time he runs out of cards, he is out of the hand, and the next player turns his cards. Each in turn rolls cards until he beats the previous high hand, after which there is a betting round. Game continues until there is one winner.

NO-PEEKIE; 7-stud high only, played as in NIGHT BASEBALL with players rolling cards to try to beat the previously rolled high hand. None of the wild cards, or extra cards, however.

OPTION, 5-CARD; 5-stud high-low with a burn. After the first round down-card, an up-card is offered to the eldest hand, who may take it or refuse it. If he refuses it, the card passes to the next player, and the eldest hand receives the next card on the deck, which he must take. Each player may refuse one card offered to him each round of up-cards. When all players have received their card for a round, there is a bet, after which another round of offered cards is dealt. When all players have five cards, there is a burn round. If the burn is an up card or a down card, it is without choice of refusal. A final betting round follows the burn.

OPTION, 7-CARD; 7-stud high-low. Dealt two down without choice, four up with choice of refusal as in the 5-card version, and a final down card, without choice.

P.O.P.; see OPTION, 7-CARD [editor's note, P.O.P. refers to an amusement park, Pacific Ocean Park in Venice Beach, in California. I'm not sure whether or not it still exists, it was closed for many years].

*PARADISE LOST; 7-stud, in which on takes his best high hand, and goes low with it. TOTALLY unplayable. J. Minne invented it, keeps threatening to deal it, and is informed he will be killed and defenestrated if he tries.

PASS THE GARBAGE; ANACONDA, without the second and third passes of cards. Seven cards are dealt face down immediately, players pass three to the left, discard two, and roll the hand, betting as in stud, high-low.

PASS THE TRASH; Same as PASS THE GARBAGE, but with SQUEEZE rules -- straights and flushes are bad low hands.

PIG SQUEEZER; MOPSQUEEZER, but with the cards following threes being wild. {Blame J. Harness.)

PIGGISH MOPSQUEEZER; MOPSQUEEZER, with cards following queens wild for low and cards following threes wild for high. (Blame J. Harness again.)



QUEEN MARIA; Same as ACE MARIA, but the queen of spades is the highest spade for the purpose of splitting the pot with the best poker hand. It is followed by the ace, king, then jack, etc.

RAZE; 5-stud high. The player with the high card up must bet on the first round. He may not check, and he may not even fold until he makes the initial bet. (Those unwilling to abide by the rule may fold before being dealt any cards.)

SCRIBE; 6-stud high-low. A combination of 6-card GRODNIKONDA with ESCALATOR. Six cards are dealt face down immediately. Players make their best 5-card hand, putting the cards in the order they want them seen, so that the bottom card -- the final hole card -- is wild, together with any like it in the same hand. (Blame S. Burns.)

SLOW DEATH; 5-card stud high-low, with all cards dealt face down at once. Players arrange their hands in the order they want the top four cards seen, and roll them, betting as in stud.

SOUTHERN CROSS; 7-stud high-low. Each player is dealt four cards, face down, immediately. Five additional cards are arranged, face down, in the form of a cross, in the center of the table. The center cards are turned on at a time, with a betting round following each turned card. The card in the middle of the cross is turned last. Each player may use any 1, 2, or 3 cards in either arm of the cross to improve his hand; if he elects to go both ways, he may use cards in one arm for low and cards in the other arm for high. The central card and all others like it are wild [editor; sometimes it isn't, in other games I've played]. The guns passes -- each round, the opportunity to make the first bet passes to the next player to the left.


SPIT IN THE OCEAN; 5-draw high only. Four cards are dealt to each player. During the deal, at some random time, a player calls "Spit," & the next card is turned face up in the center of the table. This card is common to all hands, and it, and all like it, are wild.


STAN BURNS; 7-stud high-low, but after the seventh card one may replace a card at a cost of 25 into the pot. A betting round follows the burn. Then one may buy a second burn for 50, after which there is a final betting round. (Blame S. Cohen.)

SUDDEN DEATH; 5-stud low only. (Blame Fuzzy Pink; see also SLOW DEATH, LINGERING DEATH, and TERMINAL ACNE.)

SUPER-LOW; 6-stud low, but begun with five cards dealt face down. Players discard two, roll one of the remaining three, and bet. The remaining three cards are dealt face up, one at a time, each followed by a betting round, as in regular stud.

TERMINAL ACNE; LINGERING DEATH, with a burn. (Blame Fuzzy Pink)

*TIC TAC TOE; Each player is dealt four cards face down, and nine other cards are set face-down in rows of three in the center of the table. Two cards in the center are turned two at a time at the whim of the dealer, though the central one is usually turned last. The game is high-low, and each player may use any 1, 2, or 3 cards in any tic-tac-toe row to improve his hand. (C.F. SOUTHERN CROSS). The gun passes each round. (Blame J. Harness for developing this from TWIN BEDS.)

TWIN BEDS; Each player gets 5 cards face-down, with five rows of 2 each set face-down in the center of the table. Each round, one of the rows is turned up, followed by a betting round, high-low, with the gun passing.

*2001 (A Spades Idiocy); 7-stud high-low. A spade in your hand is wild -- but only one spade. All other spades in your hand are dead cards, and you must have five live cards in your hand to win, out of the seven dealt. (E.g., four spades in the same hand, and it is dead.)(Blame B. Pelz).

VAMPIRE; 7-stud high-low, with a burn. Queens are always wild, and cards following the last up-Queen are also wild. (Cf. MOPSQUEEZER.) Wild cards dealt up cost you 25 to stay in, except that a wild card caught on the burn is free -- and a Queen caught face-up on the burn doesn't change the wild card. (Blame F. Whitledge for developing this from MOPSQUEEZER.)

WEREWOLF; VAMPIRE, played with SQUEEZE rules, so the best hand for low is a 6-4-3-2-A. (So the 5 may be a killing card, and is therefore referred to as Death.)

WOOLWORTHS; 7-stud high only, 5's and 10's wild.

ZOMBIE; 5-card OPTION, but half the pack -- 8's through Kings -- are "dead", and count as zeros. Best low hand is 5 zeros. Ace is a 1; highest card is the 7. A zero of the right suit may be used in a flush, but only one of them. A zero may be used on the bottom end of a straight: 0-A-2-3-4. Otherwise, they are of no use for high hands. A pair of 6's is a decent high hand, while it usually takes 5 zeros to win low (Blame B. Pelz.)


*BRAIN SURGERY; 7-stud high-low, but all cards dealt face-down, and bet by passing the hand of the player to his left, keeping it separate from the rest of his cards. The next player draws from the hand to his left and so on until player to the right of eldest hand draws a card from the latter's original hand. A final betting round is followed by a declaration (and several suicides.) (Blame J. Harness.)

DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUN; Dealt as 7-stud high-low, all cards face-down, the gun passing. When all cards are dealt, player's still in discard two and roll as in GRODNIKONDA, betting after each roll. (Blame L. Atkins.)


SLOW DEATH; Fuzzy pink disclaims responsibility for this name.

STAN BURNS; There is a third burn, costing $1.00, according to Sandy Cohen.

SUDDEN DEATH; Fuzzy Pink also disclaims responsibility for this name. (She accepts it for LINGERING DEATH and TERMINAL ACNE, however.)

	* - generally unplayable. 


More poker games! (if you-all have any suggestions, I'll add them to this list)

Here's a couple more that I've played here and there and enjoyed over the years, hopefully you will, too!

Tom Jolly

BLOOD AND GUTS; This is not from the original list, but a game I played and enjoyed years before I played with the LASFS crowd. This is played for a Pot to which everyone contributes at the start of the game (usually 25 each). There are no "betting rounds". On the first round, each player is dealt 2 cards and they look for the lowest hand possible (1-2 is lowest, a 2-4 isn't bad). If a player thinks he has the lowest hand, he puts his 2 cards in the center of the table (starting with the player to the dealer's left). Any other player (in order) may challenge him for the low hand, the two players swapping hands, looking at one another's (no other players see them), then the loser pays the winner the amount of the pot and the pot remains untouched. If there are no challengers, the player who put his hand in wins the pot and the game ends. If there is any challenge, the hand goes around yet again AFTER all players are dealt one more card. This hand is played for HIGH, the best being 3 aces, pairs usually win this round, but ace-high junk often wins. Once a player puts his cards out, any number of other players may challenge him. If there's any challenge on this one, a fourth card is dealt and a LOW round is played, but any aces used as HIGH on the 3-card round are frozen that way, so they tend not to be useful for the 4-card low round. Then, if it goes around again (that is, a challenge occurs, or no one at all puts their hand in), a fifth card is dealt for HIGH, and hand values are as in regular poker. Once again, if one player doesn't win the pot, then everyone ante's up again and the game starts over with a doubled pot. This can also be played with a blind man; if it wins, you match the pot to the pot. This can get expensive.

BLACK DEATH; This was forwarded to me by Jamie Nossal. It's 7-card stud (2 down, 4 up, 1 down), high hand only. low hole card is wild with option to buy your last card up for a nominal fee. The fun part is that any player dealt a black 2 face up at any time must match the pot.

CUT IT OFF; You can guess what gets cut off. This is 7 stud high-low split, but if you take the seventh card dealt, you are OBLIGATED to stay in for all the betting of the 7th round (there is usually a 3-raise limit and a max bet for this game), and, if you lose, you match the pot and it goes around again with all the players back in the game. This can get really, really expensive.

GRANNY'S KITCHEN; this is not from the original list, but it's so good I wanted to include it here. 7 stud high-low, another in the class of "bidding" games. Two cards dealt face down to each player, then 4 cards face up in a row in the center of the table. When it's your turn to take a card, you can either take a free one from the deck or buy a card from the 4 face up cards. The one on the dealer's left will cost you a quarter, the next is 50, the next 75, and the last is a dollar. If you buy one of these, it immediately gets replaced from the deck, so there are always 4 cards face up from which to buy. You see some very high and low hands here. 64321 is a common low, full boat a common high. Don't know who created it, but I learned it from Jim Johnson, an American in England

THE DRAFT; This is one I designed. Players get one card face down. Then, a number of cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table, equal to the number of players still in. The player to the left of the dealer gets first choice of these cards, then play goes to the left, each player selecting a card. Betting occurs after each round, and the "first player to select" rotates to the left each round. Play 5 cards, high-low, call at the end. The player who goes first each round has an obvious advantage for that one round, and it's very easy to screw the player who goes last, especially if he's going for a low hand. But, since the First Player changes as the game progresses, the "screwee" is never quite certain, since players will drop out. This can be a very strategic poker game.


GUTS 22; Each player antes and is dealt two cards down. All players decide if they want to "drop" or "hold" and all hold their cards parallel to the table about five inches above it. The dealer counts "One, Two, Three" and precisely on the count of "three" players must drop or continue to hold their cards. Strictly enforce the "A late drop is a hold" rule. Dropped players fold, holders have a showdown, high hand wins. The highest possible hand (with two cards) is a pair of aces. The high hand takes the pot and counts it, and all other "holders" contribute the amount of the pot (so if three people held, high hand takes the pot, the other two contribute the former amount, so the pot doubles). If everyone drops, everyone re-antes and play continues with a shuffle between each deal. Former "droppers" are dealt new cards and are still in the game. Play continues until exactly one person holds (they take the pot and it is now empty as no one has to contribute to it). Remember, there is no betting round in Guts, and a jack-high hand is pretty good.

GUTS 44; As Guts 22, but with four cards to each player per deal. No straights or flushes allowed (as there are too few cards) so four-of-a-kind is the highest possible hand.

BLOOD AND GUTS (alternate version) As Guts 22, except five cards are dealt and all normal hands are in play. Before the usual count there is another count. At the count of "Three" each player slaps down the number of cards he wishes to discard. In turn the dealer deals replacement cards, which must be purchased at the ante cost. (The count is to eliminate the dealer's advantage, as all must decide their number of discards simultaneously.) Then the normal Guts 22 count ensues and show downs, contributions, and re-antes are the same as Guts 22.

HIGH-LOW BLOOD AND GUTS; Identical to Blood and Guts (alternate version), except initially all players ante into two pots, the high and low pot, which are somehow marked High and Low. Contributions to purchase cards are split among the two pots as long as there are two pots, otherwise they all go to the remaining pot. Uneven remains or misplaced money always goes into the High pot. On the final count of three, "droppers" showdown for the low pot and "holders" showdown for the high pot. You can drop part of your hand and showdown for both pots. Losers contribute to the pot(s) they competed for. If everyone drops or holds, all players showdown for the corresponding pot, but must re-ante into the other pot. This can cause a pot that has been reduced to $0 to be re-started. The game ends when both pots are gone. I have seen a five-player pot of one cent ante grow to over forty dollars, hence the name.

Example: Four players ante $1 into each pot, making two $4 pots marked High and Low. Player One deals five cards to all, they examine their hands. Player One waits until all signify that they are ready, then counts to three. On "three" Player One and Three set two cards on the table, Player Two zero cards, and Player Four his whole hand. Player One collects the discards and deals two cards to player Three, who pays $1 to each pot ($2 for two cards). Player Four pays $2.50 to each pot ($5 for five cards). Player One deals two replacement cards to himself and also contributes $1 to each pot.

The Players again examine their hands and hold them face down a few inches above the table. Player One counts three again, and on "three" Players One, Two, and Three drop their hands to the table, while Player Four holds onto his. The high pot ("holders") is uncontested and goes to Player Four and no one must contribute, so only the Low pot remains. Players One, Two, and Three have a showdown. Player Two wins, takes the Low pot and counts it ($8.50 at this point, I believe). Players One and Three contribute this amount to the Low pot. After a shuffle Player One deals all four layers five cards and play continues with the Low pot at $17 and the High pot at $0. The "winner" of a non-existant pot obviously wins nothing.