Poker Home Games – Spots

November 12, 2007

3’s get no respect.

In any game, really. Sure, they’re wild in baseball, but they have to share the spotlight with 9’s, and when the 9’s show up you don’t have to match or fold. So, really, 3’s can be your enemy in baseball just the same.

So why does the bastard cousin of the Deuce get no respect? Well, obviously, 3’s just aren’t worth that much.

But I’m about to change all that.

Oh yes, welcome to Spots. I can’t believe it’s been months of writing for this blog/corner of the Web site and I haven’t gotten to Spots yet. Refuse to believe it, unbelievable. That’s how much I love this game.

Now, before we go any further into the rules, I’ll add a little disclaimer. This game is not one bit for the poker purists…and really goes one step further than implementing a wild card into a poker home game. So if you’d rather sit a few hold ‘em or Omaha tournaments instead of fooling around with some wild-card cash games, you’ll probably want to move along.

So, what is spots? Well, spots is a variation of seven-card stud poker that can be played two ways.

1.) It ends up a split pot after each hand

or

2.) The hands continue and the pot grows until someone wins both the hand and has the most number of spots.

Most number of spots???? No, I don’t mean freckles or back moles. Damn, that’s gross.

Spots are tallied by the number of suit representations that are going down the middle column of a card. 3’s are the best card to have for spots, because they have three spades, hearts, etc… running down the center. Face cards, 4’s and 6’s are the worst because they have none.

Here’s a quick run through of the cards.

2 – 2 spots
3 – 3 spots (ahh, the 3 gets his day in the sun!)
4 – 0 spots
5 – 1 spot
6 – Zero spots
7 – 1 spot
8 – 2 spots
9 – 1 spot
10 – 2 spots
Jack, Queen, King – Zero spots (take that, face cards)
Ace – 1 spot

So, if you start your seven-card hand with a pocket pair of three’s, you’re in good shape.

Basic play of seven-card stud poker apply, same betting, same rules (2 down, 4 up, 1 down).

Then at the end of the game, you flip up and as mentioned before can either go 1 of 2 ways.

1.) High hand takes half the pot and whomever has the most spots in his or her hand takes half the pot, with an odd chip going to the high hand. Now, this is fine if you’re playing in a group of 7 or 8 and the pot gets up there each time, but if you’re only playing with 4 or 5 people, this probably isn’t the best way to go.

2.) This is the best way to go. If 1 person doesn’t have both the high hand and the best spots, everyone throws in their cards, re-antes on top of the pot that remains in the middle, and another hand is dealt. The rule here is similar to jacks or better. If you fold at any time, you’re out for the remainder of the game until the pot clears. So there’s extra incentive to stay in. First because it keeps you in the game, and second because even though you might not think you have a great hand, that 1 extra spot you have may be what keeps your opponent from clearing the pot.

Usually for #2, you need something extremely strong like trip 3’s, or two pair 8’s and 3’s to clear the middle. I’ve seen spots pots (that rhymes by the way….go ahead and say it 10 times fast, I know you want to)…get up to $200 bucks and more because there were so many people playing and it was so difficult for 1 person to get both the spots and the hand.

Makes for a nice break between hold ‘em tournaments at FullTilt. But be careful, because when you go back to playing regular stud games, as any 3 will tell you, they’re not worth much anymore. So enjoy it while you can!