Poker Home Games: 3-5-7

October 5, 2008

I’m digging into my old-school bag of games with this one.  In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until I learned another new game this past weekend, of which the name was all numbers, too.  Make me think of this, so here we go.
3-5-7 is a match pot game, meaning at each stage of the game (and there are 3 major ones here) instead of a round of betting, each player declares in a 1-2-3-drop method whether they intend to remain “in” the game.  If a player is in and loses, he matches the amount in the pot (plus an ante), if he wins, he clears the pot.
Now, 3-5-7 isn’t quite a match pot in the traditional sense.  And by this I mean in order to progress from stage 1 to stage 2, and from stage 2 to stage 3, you must remain “in” the game.  You might now have a winning hand on stage 1, but by the time you get around to the major pot of stage 3, that might very well change, and thus be worth giving up a small pot match to have a crack at the big one.
Now for the rules:
1) Each player antes (whatever amount you want)
2) Each player is dealt 3 cards, face down.  During this first stage of the game 3’s and only 3’s are wild. 
3) Players declare in or out by holding or dropping cards at the same time.
4) Winning 3-card poker hand (no runs or suits, just high card, pairs and triples count here) clears the pot.  All losers match plus 1 ante.
5) Players who went “out” are now done for the game. 
6) Players who went “in” are each dealt 2 more cards to continue the game.  These two cards will be added to the three cards they already have. 
7) In stage 2 of the game, 5’s and only 5’s are wild.  (Yes, that lone 3 you had to win the first part of the game is pretty worthless now). 
8: Again there is a “declare” and the winning traditional 5-card poker hand gets the pot.  Losers match the current level of the pot plus an ante.
9) Players who went “in” again are dealt 2 final cards.  These 2 cards are added to the five they already have.
10) In stage 3 of the game, 7’s and only 7’s are wild.
11) Last round of “declare.”  Winning 5-card poker hand takes all. 
12) If someone goes in and loses, he still must match the pot.  All players are “live” again, and the game resets to the first 3-card stage again.  So there can be a severe penalty for going in and losing even on the last stage of the game.
***Very important note*** You only have to show (order depending on who’s sitting to the left of the dealer – rotating one spot through each stage) as much of your hand to guarantee you the win for that round.  Meaning if you show a 3 on the first stage, and nobody else can beat a guaranteed pair, you win without having to disclose the rest of your hand.  What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, it makes a big difference when you’re able to keep future wild cards (5’s and 7’s) secret in your hand.
And, if you’re dealt a pair of 5’s or 7’s (or even one of each or either) on the first round, you’re probably going to want to stick it out and stay in the first one, even if you know you’re going to lose….odds are it’ll be worth it for you come stage 2 or stage 3.
Depending on how many people you have (as is usually the case), this can end up generating some sizable pots, of which you don’t have to feed along the way in order to see it grow.  You can either sit out and watch, or keep pumping the “match pots” into the game…there’s really no gray area on this one.
So, for people who hate wild card games, I’d stay away.  Not only is this one full of wilds, but it’s full of rotating wild cards.  Believe me, even I hate this game sometimes.  Nothing worse than sitting with a pair of sevens on the second stage, and nobody goes in but you.