Poker Home Games: Pot Luck

May 31, 2009

 Ready for a new home game to try? I am – or was – until this one was taught to me recently. It’s an incredible game, perhaps not for the poker skill involved, perhaps not for the betting technique it forces you to perform, and perhaps not for the patience-building skills it encourages you to develop. What it does offer, though, in spades (pardon the pun) is the ability to build the biggest pots this side of a half hour Continents session. That’s right folks, bored with small, dinky Hold ‘Em pots? Are you “over” follow the Queen because you’re only winning $2-$4 a hand? Fear not, this game will quickly come to your rescue.

Called Pot Luck (that’s my name for it, since it didn’t have one when it was taught to me – but I admit you could probably come up with something better), it’s a blend of Omaha, Hold ‘Em and, dare I say, blackjack? Well, it offers one element you’ll find it blackjack, at least. OK, here we go:

Basics – You can play with between 3-7 players ideally. No wild cards. And it’s a high/low game, so the massive pot might get distributed between a couple players unless you take the whole thing (which you planned to do anyway, right?)

Every player receives six cards.

Players then split their cards evenly into two different hands of three cards each. Players must use two cards (and only two – shades of Omaha here) from each hand respectively, which will combine – separately – with the community cards that are yet to come.

  • Note – If you plan to play one hand, that’s fine. You can fold one of your hands whenever you like and continue on with the other hand. You cannot, however, keep both hands in and then only call or raise with one. If you raise or call, you must do so with both hands, which in turn costs that player double the contribution to the pot than that of the player only going in with one hand. Also, a player can’t bet against himself to increase the value of the pot (believe me, it’s going to get large enough as is). This means if you know you have a winning hand, you can’t bet with that hand and then re-raise with your second hand.

OK, moving on, after an initial round of betting, you get to see a typical Hold ‘Em flop (three cards).

Now, each player, regardless of how many hands he might be playing, must either discard one card from his hand or buy insurance on a card. Insurance will mean you can keep the card in your hand through the discard section. Insurance will be some fraction of the ante you determine before the game begins (and can be whatever the house wants).

So, if you have K, K, J for instance, you can buy insurance on them all, so you don’t miss out on the possibility of a Jack also improving your hand on the turn or the river. If two more jacks come up and no more kings, obviously you’ll want to use the Jack you saved to make trips instead of getting stuck selecting two kings and discarding your jack. Same situation with a flush draw or a straight draw.

After the insurance, there is a second round of betting.

There are no more insurance rounds after the flop bet. It’s simply turn card, then another round of betting, then river and another round of betting, similar to Texas Hold ‘Em.

Once the river round is complete, there is the declare (for high low, whatever works best for your house rules). Winner takes his half of the pot, or all of it if he wins both the high and the low.

I think this game has major potential for huge pots, but it might be contingent on how high you set the insurance. You can really make this a nasty burn ($5 to stay in the game, for example) and give anyone considering a flush or straight or a few high cards plenty to think about – similar to the match or fold rule if a 3 comes up late in the game of baseball.