Poker Home Games: Anaconda

March 30, 2008

Poker Home Games – Anaconda.

Yes, you read that right, the card game is named after a giant snake and/or said movie with Jon Voight, Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez, which was almost as painful.

The game, however, is much more fun, and often can lead to some fairly large pots if you’re playing in a group that actually has some balls.

I’ve played this at every regular home game I’ve ever been associated with, it always seems to be a big hit. Over the years, in an effort to spice up the game (as we tend to do with most home games), it evolved from 7-card to 10-card, but for the purposes of explanation, we’ll just stick with the straight 7-card Anaconda variety.

Also, just for the record, I have absolutely no idea why it’s called Anaconda.

1.) Each player is dealt 7 cards, face down. When all cards are dealt you are free to look at your hand, all 7 cards at once.

2.) Each player determines which 5 cards he wants to keep to make his best poker hand.

3.) Each player then discards 2 to a common trash pile in the middle, and arranges the remaining five cards in the order that he wants them to come up individually when the game begins.

***Note, this step is absolutely crucial in so many ways, as will become apparent as the explanation continues****

4.) Now that everyone has their stack of 5 cards, face down, in front of them, everyone flips their first card up and there is an initial round of betting – starting with the high card (high hand).

5.) The single-card flip up and round of betting is repeated until everyone has 4 cards face up and 1 left face down. At this point, again starting with the high hand, each person must declare if they are “in” or “out.” If you go “in” and win, the pot, of course, is yours. If you go “in” and lose, you must match the pot (along with anyone else who went “in” and lost) and the game continues with another hand and another round of betting to add to the already built up pot. If you go “out”, you are not penalized if the game continues…meaning you still will be part of the next hand.

*** As you now can see, the order in which you arrange your cards before they’re revealed can play in your favor or to your detriment. Example: If you’re sitting with two pair, Aces and whatever, you’re likely going to have to be the first one to declare if you’re in or out…which means you get to bluff first if you’re bluffing, or you get to sit there after declaring “in” and watch three other people go in, as well. Let me tell you, nothing tests your poker face as much as knowing immediately you’re going to be forced to match a $30 pot.****

***Note*** Once you go “in” you’re in, that’s it. There’s no turning back — with one exception. As this declare round is also a round of betting, if someone raises you or re-raises you, that frees you from your commitment to go in, and you’re free to fold if you want. Of course, it could just be another bluff, albeit a very, very nervy one with such a high penalty for going in and losing. It also should be mentioned that if you raise someone during this round, that puts you “in.”

VARIATION — This also can be played as a high low game. In this instance:

A) When you get to the declare round, each person holds a coin in his hand. Heads for high, tails for low. It’s hidden until everyone reveals at the same time (having it hidden takes away the possibility of someone changing if they’re going high or low based on what others are going for).

B) The high hands battle first…picks up same rules as above, best hand showing declares “in” or “out” first.

C) Low hands battle in the same way.

***Note, you CAN go both if you want, you just have to say “both” during the coin reveal. And that’s assuming your low straight or flush can count as high and low under the house rules. ****

D) High winner claims half, Low winner claims half….but all losers match the FULL pot, and the game goes again.

If you are interested in playing Anaconda online, then contact FullTiltPoker and let them know to add that game.