Poker Variants

SoftSource Poker Variants

Here are a few new twists on poker that we've come up with that may intrigue you. We also have a contest to see who can come up with the most interesting poker variation. The winners (and their names) will be added to our list. Send a description of the rules to your game to

Here are a few games we've come up with...

Here are good games others have sent in...


pronounced like a lion roar (by Gary Rohrabaugh)

A Texas Holdem variant with, multiple hands per deck, bluffing edge, and "All In" option.


  • Dealer sets ante
  • Deals two cards down to each player
  • Then deals one card up to each player
  • Players look at the down cards
  • Players make best 5 card poker hand from down and up cards

Player can use any combination of the two down cards and the displayed up cards to make the best 5 card poker hand.

Like tournament Texas Holdem the betting goal is to have the best five-card hand from the possible cards or bluff leveraging the players table stakes to win. One difference Is the match the pot option. Instead of rounds of betting and rolling the possible cards one at a time or in groups Rohr places all the cards on the table at one time. Players can use the Match the pot option or All In option, depending on pot size maximize their win. match the pot option verses the All In option allows all players to participate in the game. If only one player declares All In, they win the pot and the game ends.

To simultaneously indicate if they are not in, "in", "All In", or "Not In" all players secretly put a coin or token in their hand and open their hands at the same time. To indicate they are "In" places one coin in their hand, two coins for "All In" or no coin in hand to indicate they are "Not In" and they are not competing in this hand. Everyone puts their closed hands on the table and opens them, revealing their bet, at the same time. Players who are "Not In" risk nothing and gain nothing.

Betting requires that each player declares if they are:

  • “In” (Player reveals one coin in hand)
  • "All In" (Player reveals two coins in hand)
  • "Not In" (Player reveals no coins in hand)

If the player reveals one coin or “In” with no "All In":

  • is the only player “In” the player wins the pot. Everyone antes and the dealer deals a new hand.
  • is one of multiple players declaring "In" and has highest poker hand wins the pot.
  • is one of players “In” and does not have the highest hand, that player matches the current pot which becomes the next hands pot.
    If the player reveals two coins or “All In”:
  • is the only player “All In” the player wins the pot and the game is over.
  • is the one of multiple players “All In” the player with the highest poker hand wins the pot and all other plays "All In" match the winning players table stake or all of their holdings if it is less than the amount the winning table stake.
The players that were "Not In” play the next hand if no player declares "All In".

The game is over when any player declares "All In" and takes the pot.

Choose Your Own

(by Scott Sherman)

Summary. 7 card stud where the lowest hand showing gets to choose their card from several face up cards.

Rules. After the ante, players are dealt two cards face down and one card face up, as in 7 card stud. After a round of betting, one card is dealt face up in the middle for every player. So if five people are playing, five cards are dealt face up. The player who has the lowest hand showing gets to pick which card they want. Hands are ranked as in low ball with ties going to the player closest to the dealer's left. After that, the next lowest hand chooses, and so on, until the highest hand takes the last card. Another round of betting is followed by another round of face up cards, with the lowest hand again choosing first. Players bet and there is a final round of face up cards that players choose from. After betting, everyone is dealt one more card face down (for a total of seven) followed by a final round of betting and showdown. The player with the best five card hand takes the pot.

Strategy. Strategy can be interesting, because it is often in a player's best interest to choose a low card that will allow them to choose early in the next round. Matching one of your down cards often works well because you don't have a pair showing, which would cause you to choose later in the next round. Straights and flushes can be chosen without your up cards beating other's up cards. Of course, your selection may also be influenced by trying to prevent the next player from getting the card they want.

5 Card Stud. Players are dealt one card down and one card up. After betting, one card is dealt face up in the middle for each player, with the lowest hands choosing first as above. Players bet and choose twice more, for a total of five cards. Showdown follows the final round of betting.


(by Scott Sherman and Gary Rohrabaugh)

Summary. Players are dealt one card at a time, betting after each card, alternately competing for high or low hand.

Rules. After the ante, each player is dealt one card face down, which they can look at. For this first hand, players are competing for the highest card. To allow players to simultaneously indicate if they are going to compete for the pot, everyone secretly puts a coin in his or her hand to indicate they are competing or doesn't to indicate they are not competing. Everyone puts their closed fist on the table and opens them at the same time. Players who did not compete risk nothing and gain nothing. Players who did compete swap their cards to determine who wins - the other players do not get to see the competing players' cards. The player with the highest hand takes the pot. The competing players who lost have to match the pot. If there is a tie or no one stayed in, the pot carries over.

The dealer then deals one more card face down to each player, which everyone adds to his or her hands. This time players are competing for the lowest hand (just like in Low Ball). Again each player simultaneously indicates if they are competing by secretly placing a coin in their hand to indicate they are staying. Competing players again swap hands to determine the winner with the lowest hand taking the pot. Losing players match the pot - noncompeting players do nothing.

After the third card, players compete for highest hand the same way. After the fourth card, players compete for lowest hand the same way. After the final card, there is a showdown (with everyone automatically competing). The highest hand takes the pot and the game is over.

As the rules are stated, if only a single player competes for a hand, he takes the pot and there is no pot for the next competition. There are a couple ways to remedy this situation.

Ante every time. Before each card, every player antes. This insures that there is always money in the pot and can allow the pot to increase more quickly.

Punishment. If only one player stays in, everyone else matches the pot. If no one stays, everyone matches the pot. This encourages more people to compete.

Bid Poker

(by Scott Sherman)

Summary. Cards are auctioned off one at a time. The highest bidder takes the card and puts the money in the pot.

Rules. After everyone antes, each player is dealt five cards face down that they can look at. One card is turned face up. The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding. Bidding then proceeds to the left, with each player either topping the previous bid, or passing. Once a player passes, they can no longer bid on that card, but they can bid on subsequent cards. When everyone has passed except one player, that player puts his bid in the pot and takes the card. He then discards any of his cards (including the one he just bought) face down in the discard pile. The dealer then turns the next card in the deck face up. The player to the left of whoever started the bidding the previous round starts the bidding for the new card. Play proceeds until everyone has started the bidding once. At this point, there is a showdown, with the best hand taking the pot.

Instead of going around once (every player getting a chance to start the bidding once), you can go around multiple times. Usually, once or twice around works best.

Bid Slam. Instead of discarding to a discard pile, the player who bought the last card slams the person of his choice. He chooses a card and places it face down in front of another player. Before looking at the card, this player has to discard one card to the discard pile. He can then pick up the card he was given. A typical penalty for looking at the card before discarding is to have to match the pot. In this game, it is tough to keep any hand that requires 5 cards (straight, flush, full house, etc.). This can make the last card very valuable.

Bid Double Slam. Same as Bid Slam, except the player who was slammed can choose another player to slam - including the player who just slammed him. In this variant, even buying the last card doesn't assure you of being able to keep a 5 card hand intact.

Final Round of Betting. Before showdown, there can be a final round of betting, starting with the player to the dealer's left. Without this rule, it's possible to win the pot without putting in any money (except the ante), which may be desirable.

Kenosha Cheese P0rn

(by Dave Kaufman)

Background. "This one my friends and I invented a few months ago on a baseball road trip. It is called Kenosha Cheese P0rn, after the place we invented it (Kenosha, WI) and what we saw out the car window at the time (cheese stores and p0rnography stores)."

Summary. Players alternate between receiving cards and betting until someone feels they have the best hand.

Rules. After the ante, each player is dealt two cards, face down, which they look at. There is a round of betting. Then each player is dealt another card face down to look at. There is another round of betting. This continues until one player feels his/her hand can beat everybody else's at the table. After the bet, the player calls "Cheese P0rn!" and contributes to the pot (we usually say $1 in a $0.25-$0.50-$1.00 game). There is a final bet and then everyone who hasn't folded shows their hand. The highest 5 card hand wins the pot. The only requirement in calling "Cheese P0rn" is that you must have a pair of Jacks or better. Notice that everyone could have as few as 2 cards or even 10 or more cards. If the dealer runs out of cards, highest hand from the previous bet wins.

Open Hand Version ("Voyeur Edition") Works similar to stud in that each player starts with two cards down and one card up. There is a bet. Then the dealer gives everyone another up card and another round of betting is completed. This continues until "Cheese P0rn" is called. The caller contributes to the pot. Afterwards, one card is dealt to the remaining players face down, but NOT to the caller. There is a final bet and then the highest five card hand wins.



Rules. All jacks and kings in your hand are wild unless you have a queen in which case you have no wild cards. However, if you get 3 queens, you have a harem that is an automatic win. This game can be played with any type of poker. We have found that it plays very well with 7-card no peek.

All of the games listed above are for personal use only. Any commercial, casino, or for profit betting use requires a license from the copyright holding author.

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