Poker in its traditional form is nothing short of a thrilling game. Yet, even its most avid fans sometimes want to switch it up and try something new. Hey, that’s ok! Because even though the poker template we know has been around generations, its success lies in its adaptability. Below we’ve outlined some of the most creative variations of the game of poker. Read on to find your favourite and spice up your poker game!
Spit in the Ocean
Our first game is called Spit in the Ocean. If you’re familiar with the traditional five-card stud and Texas hold 'em, then Spit in the Ocean won’t be too far removed from what you know. In fact, think of this game as a hybrid of the two.
Unlike five-card stud, players of Spit in the Ocean will only receive four cards in this game. As a further deviation to five-card stud, when it comes to replacing cars, players can discard up to two cards. There’s also the “spit” card to consider. This is a player’s fifth card but it’s also a community card that can be seen by the whole of the table.
If these adjustments aren’t enough of a change for you, Spit in the Ocean can be modified further for even more thrills. More specifically, players can decide to make the spit a wild card, regardless of which card is the spit. The effect this has on the game is interesting to say the least. When this occurs, all cards the same as the spit card become wild - including any that players may be holding. Interestingly enough, making the spit wild also increases the odds of the winning hand being a full house as a wild automatically upgrades two pairs to a full house.
If you’re a poker lover looking for a Paddy’s Day game, Irish poker might be for you. This variant combines the high thrill pace of Omaha poker with the familiarity of Texas hold’em.
Like Omaha, the game begins with each player being dealt four cards. The first round of the game is a betting round. Following this, the standard community cards are distributed. Now, it’s time for each player to discard two of their chosen cards. After this point, the game follows the structure of Texas hold’em. As you can imagine, forcing players to relinquish two of their cards after the flop can cause quite a stir in the game. Players have to quickly decide which cards in their hand hold the most value and pray they don’t regret their choice on the turn or the river. Irish poker is a perfect mix that lets you liven up the game without the extreme swings of Omaha poker busting your bankroll.
Follow the Queen
Follow the Queen is particularly unique in how it deals with wild cards. The rules of this variation are designed to continually change the power dynamics during gameplay. This is achieved in this seven-card stud game by the use of the Queen card. When the queen is dealt to a player, the next card dealt to the following player becomes the wild card. As the game progresses and further Queen cards are distributed, the wild card changes to the new card that follows the Queen (Hence the name).
Of course, this changing wild card can make it difficult to keep track of the rules. Here are a couple of helpful guidelines to keep you straight. If fate deems it that the final face card is a Queen, this cancels out all previous wild cards. Also, when a wild card is named, all other cards of that rank become wild cards.
As you can imagine, in Follow the Queen, luck plays a more prominent role than in traditional poker. You never know when a wild card will change in your favour or not, therefore you need to capitalise on it while you can. Still, if you’ve found your games have become stagnant and you’re looking for something more lighthearted, Follow the Queen could be for you. Given its extreme unpredictability, you’ll probably never see it installed in an official casino but it’s perfect for your home game.
Now, if Follow the Queen isn’t complex enough for you, then you could challenge yourself and your friends to a game of Vanunu. Unlike the other names on our list, this mention takes inspiration from draw games, razz and seven-card stud.
As the above suggests, each player begins with seven face-down cards each. In Vanunu, players aren’t permitted to look at these cards before everyone turns over one of their cards each. Once this action is completed by all players, a betting round commences. Here players have to bet on whether they think they have the highest or lowest hand - or both! This entire process from exposing cards to betting repeats for four more rounds. Following this, players should have five cards face up on the table and two concealed.
Following this, players have the chance to exchange one of their cards with a new one from the deck. If they choose an upturned card, they must pay a set amount to do so. If they choose a concealed card, they must pay double that set amount. When all players have made their choices and added their payment to the pot, another betting round begins.
Once again players add money to the pot but they do it simultaneously. Again players are betting that their given hand is the high or low hand or both. Generally, the rules are one chip (or set amount) for low, two for high or three for both. As you may have gauged from the above, Vanunu isn’t for the poker novice. Given its demand on a player’s focus and ability to adapt, we’d recommend only the most avid players need apply.
With their unique gameplay and rules, each of these games demonstrates the most exciting element of poker is the human one. Whichever of these creative variations you try to turn your hand at, you’re guaranteed a thrilling new poker experience. Each game outlined within this article also shows that poker has the ability to include players of all tastes and skill levels. So, whether you’re a beginner wanting to try some Irish poker or a champion with a taste for Vanunu, get the cards out and get playing!