Poker Home Games: Greedy Grill

April 26, 2009

There’s something I just love about guts games. Or any drop game for that matter. The difference is in the risk, as anyone will tell you, the all or nothing gamble that can really only be equaled in regular tournament or cash games by the all-in. Putting yourself “in” knowing if you lose, you have to match the pot regardless of how much is in there, gives you a different rush than incremental betting.

So, it should be no surprise that I know, play and practice dozens of different drop games. Anything that tweaks guts or high-low to make things a little more interesting or increase the pot size a little more is worth a look.

Here’s the latest one I’ve learned, and it’s a nice addition to the list.

Now, before I start with the rules, which are really quite simple, I have to open with my frustration for when guts players try to buy the pot. This means, they’ll take the risk of losing by going in on garbage, just hoping nobody else will go in, and he’ll then win by default. Of course, soon after these people showed up, the house dealers got wise and introduced the “grill,” a deck hand that would come into the play in the event that only one person stayed in for any given hand. And, like continents, eventually the grill hand made its way into every hand, regardless of how many people were staying in.

OK, so, this guts game takes that and adds another twist. Here are the rules.

1) Straight guts rules apply. It’s a 1,2,3 drop game where you hold if you’re in and you drop if you’re out. If you’re in and win, the pot is yours. If you’re in and you lose, you match the pot (in our games we always did match the pot plus 1 ante to keep the size of the pot growing even if only one person lost, but this is house preference).

2) Every player in typical guts gets three cards to work with. Straights and flushes don’t count. (Another house rule, while straights and flushes don’t count in terms of poker hand hierarchy, they would afford you the choice of trading in your hand for three fresh cards – however, if you chose to do this, you would automatically be “in” unless someone raised you back, which would give you the “out” to fold if you wanted to.) In this game, though, every player starts out with 5 cards. And yes, this time straights and flushes do count.

3) The 1,2,3 all is made to determine who will stay “in.”

4) Players who stayed “in” then receive two more cards to add to their hand. They’ll use these and the five they already have to determine their best five-card poker hand.

5) As in all guts games, best hand wins. Losing hands match the pot.

6) Here’s the twist. If only one player goes in, the grill not only gets a hand, but gets eight cards against the player’s seven. This, mathematically, should be all that’s needed to discourage even the most reckless player from going in just to buy the pot. It doesn’t make sense in this game, and that’s an aspect of it I absolutely love.

So, if you’re looking for something that evens the playing field a little bit but still retains the edge and rush of guts, all the while expanding the hands to include all of poker, this is the game for you. Give it a try.