Five Poker Alternatives to Spice up Your Home Game
Traditional poker played in most casinos and tournaments is hardly lacking in variety.
Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, 5-Card Draw, Badugi, and HORSE are just some of the most commonly-played variants.
However, it seems that the creative potential of the basic game rules offers plenty more. With a few twists and turns, new and bizarre poker variations have emerged to provide alternatives to the mainstream game.
Unique Poker Variants You Didn’t Know About
If you’ve had enough of conventional poker and need something to spice things up, join us as we explore the lesser-known game variants that are anything but typical.
Pineapple (Crazy and Lazy)
There’s no better way to shake things up than tossing in a few tropical flavors with Pineapple poker. The juicy name encompasses three slightly different game variations: regular Pineapple, Crazy Pineapple and Lazy Pineapple.
The game’s rules are pretty similar to Texas Hold’em, with some differences in the set-up. To begin, every participant gets three cards instead of two. Next, each player evaluates their hand and discards one of the cards before the beginning of the betting round.
The difference between regular Pineapple and its Crazy sibling is that, in the latter, the players keep all three cards for the pre-flop and the flop rounds. However, they do have to ditch one card before the turn is dealt.
On the other hand, in Lazy Pineapple, you can keep all of your cards until the end of all betting rounds. Nevertheless, you can’t show all three cards. After the river is dealt, you can choose which two cards to show at the end of the last betting round.
Pineapple poker has never been played in the World Series of Poker, but there have been attempts at introducing it in other less significant events. However intriguing, the game has not been able to find its place in casinos. Nevertheless, we don’t need an official seal of approval to enjoy playing it at home.
When you’re done sipping Pina Colada on a tropical beach, join me as I hop over to the green valleys of Ireland.
The next poker alternative I’ve listed, Irish poker, is a crossover between two of the most well-known poker variants. It combines the action of Omaha with the simplicity of Texas Hold’em.
The game of Irish poker starts similarly to Omaha, with each player dealt four cards. The first round of betting starts, after which the community cards are dealt as per usual. However, after the flop, each player has to get rid of two of their cards. From then on, the game is identical to Texas Hold’em.
The game has you at the edge of your seat until the final round, as the twist of giving up two cards after the flop creates some added tension and suspense. Players are often left wondering whether the cards they discarded could have made a better hand on the turn and 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.
If you think poker games couldn’t get more complicated, wait until you hear about Vanunu. The game features elements of draw games, razz, and seven-card stud.
In the beginning, the players are dealt seven cards each. The cards are dealt face down, and the players can’t look at them. Then, every player exposes one card, after which a round of betting ensues. The players have three options: they can bet that they have the best high hand, the best low hand, or both. This repeats for four more rounds, after which the players are left with five exposed cards and two hidden.
Then, players can choose to exchange one of their cards for another. However, if they decide to do so, they have to pay a set sum. The sum is doubled if you choose to trade a down card.
When the cards are set, players place their bets by tossing chips or coins into the pot. They opt for the high hand, the low hand, or both (one chip for low, two for high, three for both). All players place bets at the same time to prevent cheating.
This game was popularized by Daniel Negreanu, a multiple World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour champion. He claimed to have honed his poker skills by playing Vanunu in his high-school days. Well, considering the demanding and thought-provoking nature of the game, it’s no wonder it breeds poker champions.
Death Wheel is a cleverly-named and beautifully-complex game avid poker players will welcome with open arms. Each player gets four cards, and there are six community cards dealt face down in a circle. The aim of the game is to make the strongest hand by combining two of your cards with three community cards from the Death Wheel.
The element that makes the game complex is that players can’t choose any old community card they like. Instead, the three cards they opt for must be adjacent to each other.
The added layer of complexity is the order in which the cards are exposed. Namely, first, there is a betting round in which players get their cards, followed by a succession of betting rounds when community cards are exposed one by one. The catch is that you never reveal adjacent cards. Instead, after exposing one card, you show the card opposite it on the wheel, repeating the process until all community cards are face up.
The revealing order keeps players in suspense as you can’t know what the adjacent cards are until the very last round. At the same time, it can be quite nerve-wracking if the card you need to complete your strong hand is not in the right position.
Anaconda is an ominous-sounding poker variant that gives you a chance to devour your opponent by passing them three of your junk cards. It sounds terrific until you realize you could be the one who gets eaten, too.
Each player gets seven hole cards at the beginning of the game. The players examine their hands and try to make the best five-card combination possible. However, then they have to give up three of their cards and pass them to the opponent to the left.
After a round of betting, players get rid of two more cards, this time passing them to the rival on their right. Then another round of betting is completed. After this, each player passes one of their cards to the player on the left. The showdown reveals the winner, a.k.a. the player with the best five-card hand.
Anaconda is a relatively simple but fun twist on the traditional poker game. Its straightforward rules are quite easy to grasp, even if you’re still getting familiar with the subtleties of poker.
Today we’ve seen that the poker game range extends beyond the variations featured in casinos. Human creativity has graced us with these exciting alternatives that can turn an ordinary poker night into an action-filled stand-off. While Vanunu and Death Wheel may be best suited for seasoned poker lovers, most beginners and occasional players will have no problems getting to grips with Pineapple, Anaconda, and Irish poker.