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Quarterly, Phil has been hosting no-limit Hold ‘Em tournaments at his house for the last three years. He manages to squeeze  two, nine-player poker tables into his basement rec room . His tournaments are popular.  He has no trouble getting players to pony-up $300 each for participation, receiving $1,500 in tournament chips. In addition, each player pays $20 for refreshment and tourney management. Phil does not play. When tourney gets down to three or four players, Phil usually deals. As players are eliminated, they wait for others to join them, so they can start a cash game when one table frees-up. Phil has a yappy, five-year old Beagle he purposely named Ranch,  just so that every-so-often, when he is in a game at his house and has a great hand,  he can jokingly use the expression, “I bet the Ranch” and call his dog to the table.

The payouts are 1st place, $2,700 ; 2nd, $1,350;  3rd,  $900 ; 4th, $450. The tourney table is down to three players:   Tim, the small blind, in the 1 seat with $10,240;  Don, the big blind, in the 5 seat  with $10,880; and Ray in the 6 seat with $2,880.   Ranch is yapping as two parting players leave and slam the door. Phil is mediating a  ruckus going on at the cash game. Seth, who finished 4th, sits-in to deal the tourney for Phil. Seth makes an aside statement to Tim, that with the blinds still being so low and with two players having the bulk of chips almost evenly distributed between them combined with the constant bickering at the cash game, he could be stuck dealing for a long time. To Seth, Tim responds, “If I go all-in most of the time, it might speed things up.”  Hearing Tim say, “All-in,” Don says, “I call.” Ray folds, mucking his cards.

Tim says that he did not go all-in and that he was just chatting with Seth. Seth, who heard most of what Tim said to him, agreed.  Don insisted that since the action was to Tim, Tim was bound by his commitment. Furthermore, Ray also thought he heard Tim say that he was all-in.

For sure, at any casino cardroom, with the action on Tim, his statement–intentional or unintentional– would be construed as a commitment. Players at casinos are bound by actions. Players could say things like, “I think I’ll go all-in…” and a few seconds later “…but not now.” Players could test reactions of other players.  That being said, Phil needs to make a decision. This is a house game and house guidelines, whatever they are, need to be in effect.  For sure, if there were only two players left, Phil’s decision would be simpler. However, the decision also drastically effects Ray.

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At a casino cardroom,  the game is No Limit Hold ‘Em. It is head-to-head action.  The river card, a four, has just been shown. The board shows king, five, jack, queen, four. The action is to Fred  in seat 2.  Will is in seat 9.  Fred says “I’m all-in.” Fred concentrates on pushing-in all his $340 in $5-chips.  Hearing Will say “me too,”  Fred exposes his king-queen hand, revealing the top two pair, kings and queens. Will (holding king-jack) sees Fred expose his king-queen and just sits there, making no action. Fred waits. Ginny, in seat 8, gets up from the table. Will is about to muck his cards. The dealer instructs Will, who has about $600 in chips in front of him, to match the $340. Will insists that he was about to get up and join Ginny for a cigarette. Will claims he was saying “me too” to Ginny, who, he claims, said to him, “I’m going out for a smoke.” WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Super Spit

I created it on the fly about three weeks ago at one of the games at which I occasionally play.  The players at this game always played a game they called Spit. “Spit” is just another term for common card, also known as community card. The original game the players dealt and called Spit, per se, got plenty of action and would have received six or seven Å‘s had Super Spit not come along. In comparison, the pots that Super Spit develop are 20% or 30% larger than the Spit pots were. The game is played as a hi-lo, declare game. The game is simple to deal and fun to play.  We play the game with nine players and have not run into the need to use mucked cards, since not all players call to the final round. 

Basically, the game is a Five-Card Stud game with a common and most likely a second common card. In addition, there is a replacement card after all players have each received their own five cards.

 Process:

Initially, each player receives one card face down and one card face up (as in Five-Card Stud). After each player has received the two initial cards, one common card is placed face-up in the center of the table.  There is a round of betting.

If and when the first pair appears in any player’s face cards or with any player’s face card and initial common card, another common card will is placed in the center of the table. [If a pair happens to appear on the original flop (if the common card matches any of the players’ up-cards), the additional spit card will be opened after the initial round of betting and after the next up card is dealt to each player.] If during the course of the game, the first pair to show appears after the initial round of betting, the second spit card is opened before the betting commences for that round .  (Seeing all this in print makes all this seem much more complex than it is.) Note: There are never more than two spit cards.  Sometimes, (rarely) no pairs appear on the table, and there is only the one original spit card.  Therefore, this game is actually Five-Card Stud with two spit cards; sometimes (again, rarely), Five-Card Stud with one spit card.

To recap, each player receives one card face down; one card face up. A common card is placed in the center of the table. There is a round of betting. Each remaining player receives a second  face card.  If the original common card “paired” at least one player’s original face card, a second and final spit card appears at this time. If  the initial common card did not pair any of the players’ initial  face cards and, in fact, none of the second up-cards paired any player’s original face card or matched the original common card, a second round of betting occurs. However, if any player’s face cards “paired” (by matching original face card or matching original common card), a second and final “spit” card is turned face-up in the center of the table, and, then, the second betting round starts. The final up-card is dealt to each player. If prior to this final up-card no pair appeared, an initial pair may yet appear on this round.  If so, a the final and second spit card will appear.  Otherwise, there is no chance for a second common card.  There is a round of betting.

Each remaining player then receives a final hole-card and now has five cards in all–two down, three up. There will either be one or two common cards.  Players may use both cards (or if only one common, just the one) as part of their hands. Then, each player, in turn, has an option to replace any of his or her five cards–an up-card for an up-card or a down-card for a down-card.

After replacements have been completed, there is a round of betting. Then, there is declaration–high or low. In some games, there is a round of betting again–after the declare. Pot is split between best high hand and best low hand. If all players declared in the same direction, there may possibly be just one winner. If any player opts to “swing,” that player may possibly take the entire pot, provided his or her high and low hands are both the best hands available. If  “swing” player loses in either direction, she or he gets no part of pot. 

 

GAME: Super Spit (AKA Double Spit)
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ
As soon as I can figure-out how to describe this game in fewer words, I will revise this cumbersome explanation.

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Make Seven

Since so many of the home games at which I play have eight, nine, and sometimes ten players, it’s nice to come up with new games that work with nine (or even ten).  When these newly introduced games gain some popularity, a sense of satisfaction is achieved.  Many players just enjoy the variety offered by new games; others, like I, relish the challenges. Many new games are proffered all the time.  Not too many stick.  Here’s one, Make Seven, I came up with in October of this year (2009).  This game is gaining in popularity.  Action is ever-improving.

Make Seven is played as a hi-lo, split game, eight-low required, cards-speak. (Game could possibly be played as a declare game.  I have never tried it.)

Process:
When played with up to nine players, each player receives five cards, face-down; with ten players, four cards. 
After all players have received their face-down cards, seven cards are placed face-down in the center of table, thusly:
        Row 1                       A  B D F
        Row 2                           C E G
Players use seven-cards from which they form their best five-card hands.
Players may use 1, 2, or 3 cards from their hand with Row 1 or 1, 2, 3, or 4 cards from their hand with Row 2. [For clarification, players may not use 4 cards in their hand and 1 card from Row 1 nor may they use all 5 cards in their hand and none from either row.]
There is a round of betting. Then cards A B and C are opened simultaneously.  
There is second round of betting. Then cards D and E are opened.
There is another round of betting. Finally, remaining cards F and G are opened.
There is a final round of betting.        
Remaining players reveal their hole cards. Best five-card high hand splits pot with best five-card low hand. It is possible to win both high and low using same row or both rows. Note: Cards from Row 1 may never be combined with cards from Row 2.         
GAME: Make Seven
RANKING: Six   ÅÅÅÅÅÅ

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HI-SEQUENCE

It seems that Omaha attracts a little older set of players than Hold ‘Em does.  Of course, at the lower limit Seven Stud games it seems all the players are on-break from a geriatric ward.

Sometime back in 1994 or 1995 , I was playing Omaha Hi-Lo at Foxwoods. One of the younger players at the table  started a conversation about a home game at which he plays. This game, which he called *Sequence,  is not dealer’s choice nor strictly Hold ‘Em nor Omaha. Neither is this game hi-lo.

As far as he knew, the game had been in existence for at least fifteen years before he joined it. *Sequence is a split game: Best high hand splits the pot with best sequence hand. I was fascinated with the prospect of playing this game and introducing it at a Thursday night game in Newton, MA at which I had been playing since sometime in the 1970’s.  This Thursday night game was always at the same place, hosted by a fellow player and his wife, an extraordinary cook, who plied us with scrumptious food.  She  always seemed to know whose birthday it was and managed to prepare the birthday-boy’s favorite dish. The group was composed of a nucleus of five.  The balance were transients who stayed as part of the group for anywhere from one week to a few years. At another time I will probably elaborate on this long, on-going game, since defunct and now in its new propagation at my house. 

In due respect to what I call Hi-Sequence, it differs from Sequence as defined on various poker web sites. *Sequence as it appears on various web sites is defined as a wild-card game.  I have defined that game below the sequence game I was taught which contains no wild cards.

Hi-Sequence

First, let’s define what I refer to as sequence.
The lowest possible sequence would be two cards: Ace-deuce of clubs, followed by ace-deuce of diamonds, etc. Therefore, the highest possible sequence would be ten-jack-queen-king-ace–all in spades. Any three-card sequence beats any two-card sequence. Any four-card sequence beats any three-card sequence, etc.
Sequence must be a combination of  touching cards in the same suit. In most instances, two-card and three-card sequences win the sequence half of the pot. Unlike low portion split hands, there is no possibility of a tie-hand in sequence segment of game. If  one plays the game without a common (community) card, there is not always a sequence, and the high hand takes the entire pot. (I prefer the game without a community card.) The beauty of this game is that unlike hi-lo, one is never too sure if someone is betting or raising on a high hand or a sequence hand.
 
The game can be played declare or cards-speak (lay-down).
Process:   (May be played as a five-, six-, or seven-card game. My preference is as a six-card game.)
Each player is dealt two cards, face-down and one card face-up. There is a round of betting.
Each remaining player is then dealt another card face-up. There is another round of betting.
Each remaining player now receives another card, face-up. There is another round of betting.
Each remaining player now receives a final card, face-down. There is a final round of betting.
Supposing game is played as non-declare, players show their hands. Best high Poker hand splits with best sequence hand (assuming there is one). As a declare game, this game leaves a reasonable betting round after declaration– if players prefer another betting round—and ample opportunity to bluff a sequence, if in fact, you do not have one and opt to gamble on being the only sequence player. With let’s say a flush for high and a king-ace sequence, a player may opt to swing and win both high and sequence.
GAME: Hi-Sequence
RANKING: Four ÅÅÅÅ   (I would choose to rank it higher because it does get a lot of action. However, due to its lack of popularity, it gets a mediocre ranking.)

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*Sequence  [As defined on some Poker web sites, but not as I play it]

Sequence is a seven card stud poker game with wild cards. If at some moment during the game a two is dealt face-up to one of the players, twos become wild. If after a two has become wild, a three is dealt face-up, threes become wild and twos are not wild anymore, and so on up until the Ace. If two was never dealt face-up until the end of the game, no cards are wild, and the game is played as standard seven card stud.

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SPLITS and TITS

Splits and Tits

Though both of these games are just variations of  six-card stud and five-card stud-with-a-common , they are unique enough to have garnered major popularity at three of the home-card games I frequent from time-to-time.  Of the two games, Splits and Tits, Tits is the one that has become the mainstay.

Both of these games were introduced by an astute card player, who has a studied command of poker. As I understand, he has applied for a patent for Fifty-Two Splits, which is what he calls Tits.  The players all refer to the game as Tits because it was a cute take-off on splits, the original game that was introduced to us. Splits and Tits are unique because of their card hierarchy and hi-lo aspects . 

Hierarchy:  ( •A take-off on Canadian Stud)
Straight flush
Four of a kind
Full house
Five-card flush
Five-card straight
Four-card straight flush
Three-of-a-kind
Two-pair
 •Four-card flush
•Four-card straight
Pair
High card

 Now for the other aspect, the one that gives these games that extra Åction factor: After all betting is completed, the best high hand and the best low hand split the pot. Note, there are no requirements for winning low–no declare, no eight low. In some instances, a pair or more might be low winner. Since there are low-hand players and high-hand players betting, and  sometimes straights and flushes win both ways (the high and the low),the pots bespeak the Åction.

The added benefit of Tits, it works well even with ten-players!

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SPLITS
Process
Each player receives three cards, two face down (hole cards), the third face up.
There is a round of betting. Each player then receives another card, face up.
There is another round of betting. Each player then receives another card, face up.
There is another round of betting. Then, each player receives a final card, this one, face down.
There is a final round of betting.  Players show their hole cards.
Best high hand and best low hand split the pot.
 
GAME: Splits
RANKING: *Five ÅÅÅÅÅ
* Ranking would be higher if not for popularity of game of Tits.
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 TITS
Process
Each player receives three cards, two face down (hole cards), the third face up.
There is a round of betting. Next, two common cards are then placed face up in center of table.
There is another round of betting. Each player then receives another card, face up.
There is another round of betting. Then, each player receives a final card, this one, face down.
There is a final round of betting.  Players show their hole cards.
By combining the best combination of their five cards and one or the other of the common cards, the players form their best five-card hand.  Players have the option of using one of the common cards for high hand; the other, for low hand. Note: Players may use one common card or the other common card, but not both common cards together in any one high or low hand. Players have the option, as well, to use neither of the common cards.
Best high hand and best low hand split the pot.
 
GAME: Tits
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ
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THE HENNY’s

Henny. The name stems from Henny Youngman, King of One-Liners like: “I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.” ” If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.” ” I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up because they have no holidays.”  

I was first introduced to Henny in about 2005 when I was invited to play in a weekly, Wednesday night poker game in Wellesley, MA. I knew only the one person that invited me. That night I was introduced to a few new games, one of which was Henny–as in a one-liner, five cards in one line as  laid out in Hold ‘Em and Omaha. More important to me than the new games played, was the camaraderie of this warm, friendly group of men playing there.  Ever since this night, many of these Wednesday night poker players have remained as important parts of my life.  

Henny [Now referred to as Single Henny (redundant, yet self-explanatory) or as R O H (Regular Ole Henny)]  

Process
Each player receives five cards, face down.
In the center of the table, five common cards are placed face down–thusly
                       A B C  D  E
         
Game is played, Hi-Lo, 8 or better. This is a Vegas style  (meaning non-declare) game.
To achieve best possible hands, players may use any of the following options:
1-All five cards in their hand, utilizing none of the common cards.
2-Three cards in their hand with any two of the five common cards.
3-Two cards in their hand with any three of  the five common cards.
    
Players may use one option for best high hand; another option for best low hand.
It is possible, as well, to use the same option for the best of both hands.
    
There is a round of betting. Then, cards A B C are turned face up. FLOP
There is a second round of betting. Then, card D is turned face up. TURN
There is a third round of betting. Then, card E is turned face up.  RIVER
There is a final round  of betting. Hands of remaining players are then revealed.
 
GAME: Henny
RANKING: Six  ÅÅÅÅÅÅ
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Double Henny.  I came up this bastardized version of Henny soon after I joined the Wednesday night Wellesley game.   Most nights we have nine players. Henny (aka, Single Henny) works very well with nine players. One night, when we were only eight players, I introduced Double Henny.  

 
 
Process
Each player receives five cards, face down.
In the center of the table, ten common cards are placed face down in two rows of five cards–thusly
                       A B C  G I 
                       D E F  H J
Game is played, Hi-Lo, 8 or better. This is a Vegas style  (meaning non-declare) game.
To achieve best possible hands, players may use any of the following options:
1-All five cards in their hand, utilizing none of the common cards. 
2-Three cards in their hand with any two of the five common cards in any one row.
3-Two cards in their hand with any three of  the five common cards in any one row.
    
Players may use one option for best high hand; another option for best low hand.
It is possible, as well, to use the same option for the best of both hands.
    
There is a round of betting. Then, cards A B C  and DEF are turned face up. FLOP
There is a second round of betting. Then, cards G and H are turned face up. TURN
There is a third round of betting. Then, cards I and J  are turned face up. RIVER
There is a final round  of betting. Hands of remaining players are then revealed.
 
GAME: Double Henny
RANKING: Six  ÅÅÅÅÅÅ

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Henny and a Half.  The staunchest member of our Wednesday night game came up with the idea for this game, combining the variables of Henny and Double Henny. The beauty of this game is that it, like Henny, per se, can be played with nine players. Henny and a Half is probably the most popular of all the Henny’s.  

Process
Each player receives five cards, face down.
In the center of the table, seven common cards are placed face down–thusly
                       A B
          G F C
                      D E
Game is played, Hi-Lo, 8 or better. This is a Vegas style  (meaning non-declare) game.
To achieve best possible hands, players may use any of the following options:
1-All five cards in their hand, utilizing none of the board cards. 
2-Three cards in their hand with two of  the following five cards
     A  B  C  F G  or D E C F G.
3-Two cards in their hand with three of  the following five cards
     A  B  C  F G  or D E C F G.
 
Players may use one option for best high hand; another option for best low hand.
It is possible, as well, to use the same option for the best of both hands.
    
There is a round of betting. Then, cards A B C are turned face up. FLOP
There is a second round of betting. Then, cards D E F are turned face up. TURN
There is a third round of betting. Then, card G is turned face up. RIVER
There is a final round  of betting. Hands of remaining players are then revealed.
 
GAME: Henny and a Half
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ

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