Poker Home Games: Black Poker

June 28, 2009

One of my favorite things in the world of home gaming is combining games. Taking a hybrid of two or more tried and true forms of gambling and meshing them into one big melting pot can spawn some unusual but rewarding results. Take double-hand baseball, for instance, or idiots blackjack for that matter. In fact, most of the games that I’ve posted on this site have been the brainchild of a group of bored kids looking for the next variation to ramp up the stakes and keep things interesting.

And that brings me to the latest creating to share with the masses. Not much to this one, sort of the simple genius that was staring you right in the face and you didn’t even know it.

Usually, when you release two titans into the same arena, they’ll spar, fight, teeth and claw at each other. It won’t make for pretty results. One will be left standing, and shout to the mob, “Are you not entertained???”

OK, that’s getting a bit carried away. Anyway, here’s the game. Let’s call it Black Poker. No racial undertones implied, you’ll see what this means in just a moment.

  1. Rules are straight seven card stud, including the deal, bets, etc…

  2. Here’s the twist. Your hidden cards represent not only part of your poker hand, but a separate, independent blackjack hand, as well.

  3. At the end of the hand, dealer will go around the table and offer everyone the chance, for a price of course, to take their last card face up, so as not to “hit” their hidden cards’ blackjack hand if they choose not to. Otherwise, it will be dealt face down. The amount you pay to have it face up is at the discretion of the house. Usually, though, it amounts to the ante or twice the ante.

  4. Cards are revealed. It’s a split pot game. High poker hand wins half, high blackjack hand wins the other half.

Yeah, this is where it REALLY pays off to have a pair of kings underneath. Even more so than that fearsome pair of aces.

My recommendation is to play this game with a group that not only likes blackjack, but is large enough to build decent pots. Usually in home cash games, the house is playing with a betting limit – meaning there’s no all-in. Therefore, the pots usually accumulate from generous betting or matching throughout the hand (see Moose, Continents, etc…)

If you have six plus players, this is a great game to work into the rotation every once in a while. It satisfies those that secretly wish they were at a casino playing blackjack while maintaining the fun of poker, and the ability to keep the best part of your hand hidden until the end. Throw in the buy on the river, and it opens an entirely new avenue into the final round of betting (which can come after the decision if the house prefers).

I like that option, actually, because it pours a little more information onto the “reading your opponents” fire. If you see someone take the card up, you know you’re going to have a decent blackjack hand to face, in addition to whatever poker hand they managed to scrape together.

Having a great blackjack hand off the deal is also a great way to build a pot, since you know that person or people are staying in to see it through to the end no matter what other crap cards they’re dealt.