Poker Home Games – Moose

June 1, 2007

Ah, Moose. My favorite home game. I learned it one way and then it evolved in our home game to Buy-A-Card Moose…but then we only played it the new way, so that’s the way I’m going to teach it, and just call it Moose. Make sense?

All right, so Moose is a split pot game in which everyone is dealt 4 cards, and three cards are dealt face down in the middle. These three cards will be turned up one by one, and will serve as community cards for the table.

What you’re trying to do is, of course, get the best 5 card poker hand, and you can use any combination of the cards in your hand and the cards in the middle. To the high hand goes half the pot.

The other half of the pot goes to he (or she) who holds the lowest card in his hand of the same suit of the middle community card.

So, as you can imagine, four 2’s does the trick pretty nicely to clean house in this game.

Let’s go through a hand step-by-step, and as you’ll quickly find out, Moose easily grows into a big pot game, even if you’re only playing for quarters.

1. 4 cards dealt to each player, three cards dealt face down in the middle.

2. Community card on the left is flipped up.

3. At this time, going around the table in clockwise order from the dealer, each player has the option to exchange a card in their hand for a fresh card off the deck by buying in for the cost of the ante. However, he must first decide if his hand is strong enough to continue. If it is, and he wants to remain in the game, he must put in the amount of the ante to remain in the game, and then the additional ante amount to buy the right to exchange a card.

A lot of choices present themselves here as players battle with what card (if any) to exchange, and whether to hold onto a potentially powerful 2 or 3 in favor of trying to improve a high hand.

*** Important to remember, you’re exchanging a card for the price of an ante, not buying an extra one, and you must discard the card you will be exchanging before you receive your new card (nothing is more frustrating than dropping a 7 and getting another 7.). ***

4. After each player has had the opportunity to buy in for a new card or pass, there is a round of betting. You can set whatever limit, or none, that you wish.

5. This step repeats step 2, this time with the community card on the right being flipped up. However, at this point, the price of staying in the game and continuing is twice the amount of the initial ante, again adding on another ante’s worth to exchange a card. So if the ante were $1, it would cost $3 at this point to stay in the game and exchange a card.

6. Second round of betting.

7. Middle card is flipped up. At this point, you’ll know whether that lone 2 you were holding onto is worth a damn thing, or if you’re busted out. If it’s the latter, you’ll probably want to toss in the cards, because the cost to stay in this hand (you guessed it), is three times the ante. There is one more round of exchanging cards for the price of an ante here, as well. So again, if the ante were $1, it would cost $4 in this round to stay in the game and exchange a card, or just $3 if you are content with the hand you have.

8. Final round of betting.

9. Turn them over, and weep as your 3 of diamonds is undercut again by the winning 2 of your friend across the table. High hand takes half, lowest card of the same suit of the middle community card takes the other half.

And, as in any game, being undercut will get under your skin…but it’s the immensely irritating calls of Mooooooooooose by the drunk idiot that’s doing it to you that will really make you boil.  You won’t find moose on Full Tilt Poker, but you will find Texas Hold’em.

Have fun!