Community card poker refers to any game of poker that uses community cards (also called "shared cards" or "window cards"), which are cards dealt face up in the center of the table and shared by all players. In these games, each player is dealt privately an incomplete hand ("hole cards"), which are then combined with the community cards to make a complete hand. The set of community cards is called the "board", and may be dealt in a simple line or arranged in a special pattern. Rules of each game determine how they may be combined with each player's private hand. The most popular community card game today is Texas hold 'em, originating sometime in the 1920s.
In home games, it is typical to use antes, while casinos typically use only blinds for these games. No limit and Fixed limit games are most common, while spread limit and pot limit games are less common. The betting format and stakes can vary by region as well as time of year and volume (casinos often change games on weekends to accommodate increased customer demand). Later betting rounds often have a higher limit than earlier betting rounds. Each betting round begins with the player to the dealer's left (when blinds are used, the first round begins with the player after the big blind), so community card games are generally positional games.
Most community card games do not play well with lowball hand values, though some do play very well at high-low split, especially with ace-to-five low values, making it possible to win both halves of a pot. When played high-low split, there is generally a minimum qualifying hand for low (often 8-high), and it is played cards speak.
Integral to community card poker games is the community card. Often, several community cards are dealt to the table, shared by all players, and subject to variant-specific rules about how many, and which of the cards may be used in each player's hand. Such a set of community cards is often called a "board" or "window" (though this latter term is inconsistent with its use in other card games). The board is usually dealt in a simple line, but some games may have elaborate layouts of community cards with special rules about what combinations can be used. For example, Texas hold'em ends with each player holding two cards in his individual hand, and a board of five community cards in a simple line shared by everyone; each player then plays the best five-card hand in any combination. In Omaha hold'em, game rules restrict players to using exactly three (no more and no fewer) of the five community cards, combined with exactly two of the four cards dealt to each player, to make a hand. In Tic-tac-toe, the board is a 3x3 array of nine cards, and players must use exactly three cards from a row, column, or diagonal of the board.
This is the most popular community card game today. Each player is dealt two private "hole" cards, after which there is a betting round. Then three community cards are dealt face up (in no particular order or pattern) to form the "flop", followed by a second betting round. A fourth community card (the "turn") is followed by a third betting round. And finally the fifth community card (the "river") is followed by the final betting round. At showdown, each player plays the best five-card hand he can make using any five cards among the two in his hand and the five on the board. This is the key difference from Omaha hold 'em; the player may use both, one, or none of his hole cards in the final hand (though a hand that plays the board is guaranteed to be able to "chop" the pot at best, since every other player still in the hand at showdown has access to those same five cards). Note that in current practice, before each community card round (the flop, the turn, and the river) first a card is "burned" and placed in a discard pile. This was implemented to prevent card-cheaters from "marking" cards and knowing what the card on the top of the dealer's deck was.
For double-board hold 'em, two separate five-card boards are dealt, and the high hand using each board takes half of the pot. For example, after the first betting round, three community cards are dealt to each of two separate boards; after the second round, another community card is dealt to each board; and before the final round, a fifth community card is dealt to each board (so there will be in total ten community cards, comprising two separate five-card hold'em boards). It is possible for one player to have the best hand on both boards and thus "scoop" the entire pot.
This variant of Texas hold 'em is sometimes called "double-flop hold'em", which is a bit of a misnomer, since there are not just two flops, but also two turns and two rivers.
Double Hold'em plays in four stages, each with a betting round; 1) each player is dealt 3 hole cards, 2) there's a flop where 3 board community cards are simultaneously opened and each player establishes a middle common card that plays with each of the other cards, but the outer cards don’t play with each other (each player has two 2-card hands), 3) a fourth turn community card is opened, and 4) a fifth river community card is opened. After the final a betting round, the pot is disbursed to the hand’s winner or winners in instances of a tie.
Each player is dealt four cards before the flop, but must discard two of these cards after the betting round on the flop has ended.
Players are dealt three hole cards instead of two with three betting rounds: pre-flop, flop and turn. Players can use any number of hole cards to make the final hand.
Royal hold 'em is a hold 'em variation in which the deck only contains tens, jacks, queens, kings and aces.
The poker strategy for Royal hold 'em varies from other forms of poker since the odds of certain hands are greatly increased.
Another hold 'em variant is Omaha hold'em. Each player is dealt four cards to his private hand instead of two. The betting rounds and layout of community cards is identical to Texas hold 'em. At showdown, each player's hand is the best five-card hand he can make from exactly three of the five cards on the board, plus exactly two of his own cards.
The high-low split version of Omaha is called many different names, such as "Omaha Eight or better", "Omaha HiLo" or "Omaha8". Each player, using the above rules, makes a separate five-card high hand and five-card low hand, and the pot is split between the high and low (which may be the same player). To qualify for low, a player must be able to play an 8-7-6-5-4 or lower. A few casinos play with a 9-low qualifier instead, but this is rare. In high-low split games, aces count as both high and low.
The low hand is unavailable if the board cards do not include cards of at least three different ranks of 8 or lower (with aces counting as low). Paired cards lower than eight don't qualify.
When high hands only are used, the game is generally called "Omaha high" to avoid ambiguity.
Omaha can be played fixed limit, pot limit (where it is often called "PLO") or no limit. It is sometimes played where each player gets five cards instead of four. The same rules apply for showdown: each player must use two of his cards with three of the community cards.
A variant of Omaha hold'em (5-Card Omaha) very popular in Europe, where instead of betting on the initial four cards and then flopping three community cards for the second round, the first community card is dealt before the first betting round, so that each player has five private cards and a single community card on his first round of betting. Then two more community cards are dealt to complete the Flop, and then play proceeds exactly as in Omaha.
Pineapple hold'em exists halfway between Texas hold'em and Omaha hold'em and has been very popular in Australia and South America, specifically in Medellin, Colombia, where it was first introduced in a private poker room since 2010. Players are initially dealt three cards. Each player then discards one of the three cards (Pre-flop, Post-flop or at Showdown), and the game proceeds exactly as in Texas hold'em. In some regional variations, five cards are dealt, and one is discarded after flop, turn, and river, otherwise proceeding as usual Texas hold'em.
Players discard their third (unwanted or unneeded) card pre-flop, before the first betting round.
Players discard their third (unwanted or unneeded) card after the flop, before the fourth community card is dealt.
Players discard after the final betting round or at showdown so they may not use all three of them to make a hand. Each player may use none, one, or two cards from his hand (never three cards) combined with those on the board, to make his final five-card hand, just like in Texas hold'em.
In the variant known as "Super hold'em", players can keep all 3 private cards throughout the play and may use all three cards to determine high hand.
Manila is played with a Stripped deck in which all cards below the rank of 7 are removed (leaving 32 cards). Each player is dealt two private cards, and a single community card is dealt face up, followed by the first betting round. Then a second community card is followed by a second betting round, a third community card and a third betting round, a fourth community card and a fourth betting round, and finally a fifth community card and fifth betting round. On showdown, unlike Texas hold 'em (and more like Omaha), each player makes the best hand possible from both of their own hole cards with exactly three of the five community cards.
Because of the stripped deck, a flush beats a full house. Also, an ace may not be played low for a straight (that is, the hand A-7-8-9-10 is not a straight in Manila). Manila and its variants are rarely played high-low split (in fact, very few stripped deck games are ever played low).
Common variations involve dealing three cards to each player, one of which can either be discarded at some point (like Pineapple, above), or else held to the end, but maintaining the requirement that players play exactly two of their own cards with exactly three of the board. The three-card variant is sometimes played with 6s being restored to the deck, making it 36 cards.
Because Manila has five betting rounds, it does not play well at no limit or pot limit. This can be easily modified by eliminating the betting round between the second and third community cards. So, each player is dealt two private cards and a single community card is dealt to the board, followed by the first betting round. Then two community cards are dealt, followed by a second betting round. Then a fourth community card and third betting round, a fifth and final community card and fourth betting round, followed by a showdown as above.
The three-card variant can be played this way as well (as with Manila, the players must use exactly two of their three-hole cards with three of the board cards to make a hand).
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Although some of these games (notably Chowaha and Tic tac toe) have been played in formal casino settings, they are generally better suited to less serious low-stakes home games. They also lend themselves to ad-hoc variation, since the games themselves have not been time-tested for balanced play as have many casino games, so making variations is likely to make the game much worse.
Each player is dealt four hole cards, and then one community card is dealt face up to the table. After a first betting round, a second community card is dealt, followed by a second betting round. This continues until a fourth community card is dealt, followed by a fourth betting round and showdown. Each player plays the best five-card hand he can make from his four-hole cards plus the four community cards in any combination. Some variants restrict each player to using exactly two of his hole cards (as in Omaha) or no more than two (as in Pineapple).
Each player is dealt five hole cards, and then five community cards are dealt one at a time followed by a betting round, exactly as in Cincinnati. (One variant permits a discard and draw after the five hole cards are dealt, followed by the betting round). They are dealt in a cross pattern with a center card (dealt last) and four other cards to its left, right, top, and bottom. Each player plays the best five-card poker hand he can make from his five-hole cards plus the three cards from either the vertical arm or the horizontal arm of the cross.
A common variant is to make the center card wild, or the center card and all of the same rank wild. The game is often played also where the highest and lowest hands split the pot (Hi/Lo with split pots). Each player makes a separate five-card high hand and five-card ace-to-five low hand (eight-high or lower to qualify), and the pot is split between the high and low (which may be the same player).
Also, in some variants, the first card of the cross (always one of the outer cards) is flipped prior to the first round of betting. Still another variant called Matrix Cross has only 2 hole cards which must be played with the cross cards in order to make 5.
Another variant is played by reducing to four betting rounds: one after the hole cards are dealt but before any community cards are, then another after the left and right cards of the cross are dealt at the same time, a third after the top and bottom cards of the cross are dealt, and a final round after the center card is dealt.
There is also a version of Iron Cross that is similar to Double Flop Hold’em, with two cards being turned over every round and only the final middle card being turned over alone.
Still another variant, sometimes called "monkey's nuts," is sometimes played, usually in home games. Before the center card is turned up, there is a round that is simultaneously a twist round and an additional card to each player, i.e., a player can either discard one card and receive two, or keep the cards he or she has and still receive one card.
In Chowaha or Chud; each player is dealt two hole cards and there is a round of betting as in Texas hold'em. After betting is complete the dealer deals three sets of three communities cards (F1, F2 and F3 in the diagram below). There is another round of betting and the dealer deals two turn cards (T1 and T2 in the diagram) followed by another round of betting. A single card is dealt (R in the diagram) and there is a final round of betting. Each player makes their best hand using both their hole cards plus three from one of the valid boards. There are four valid boards F1-F1-F1-T1-R, F2-F2-F2-T1-R, F2-F2-F2-T2-R and F3-F3-F3-T2-R.
F1-F1-F1 \ T1 F2-F2-F2 < > R T2 F3-F3-F3 /
Chowaha is often played as a high-low split game in which case you can use one board for the high hand and another for the low hand.
Chowaha is occasionally played at low limits in casinos (usually in conjunction with B.A.R.G.E).
In this game, each player will end up with two private cards, and there will be a board of nine cards arranged in a 3x3 square. Each player will make a five-card hand from a combination of his two cards plus any consecutive row of three on the board, either a horizontally, vertically, or diagonally (as in Tic-tac-toe). Variations exist in the number of betting rounds based on which community cards are revealed in what order. The simplest is probably to deal each player both hole cards then deal the three cards across the top of the 3x3 array before the first betting round; then deal the three cards across the bottom of the array followed by a second betting round; then deal the two cards on the left and right edge of the middle row, followed by a third round; and finally deal the center community card followed by a fourth betting round and showdown.
Another variation is to deal three or four hole cards to each player, though each player may still only play exactly two of them with any consecutive row of three from the grid.
In still another variation, each player is given five cards, and may play any or all of them; sometimes, this game includes a twist, where players may replace one or more cards.
A poker-like beginner's home game is also called "Tic tac toe"; it involves dealing each player two hole cards and then dealing the 3x3 grid face up, followed by a single betting round after which players announce the best hand they can make from their two cards plus any consecutive row, column, or diagonal of the board as above. Hole cards can be redealt several times to the same board of community cards. This is primarily for practice at recognizing and evaluating poker hands.
East Village is a modification of Omaha high-low split.
Each player is dealt seven hole cards. The player then discards two of these cards, not to be used until the next hand. Then, with 5 hole cards left in his hand, each player "donates" one of his cards. All the players "donation" cards are kept face down, and the dealer "shuffles" these cards with a scramble. The dealer then adds cards from the stub until there are a total of 7 donation cards. The dealer then "shuffles" these seven cards with a scramble. 5 of these cards will then make up the three card flop, the one card turn, and the one card river. 2 of these cards will remain face down, and thus unused.
All betting takes place as in Omaha, and the game is played high-low split with the 8-or-better qualifier.
Each player plays the best five-card hand he can make from exactly two of his hole cards plus three of the five community cards.
This game is best played with seven players. If it is played with less than seven players, extra cards must be pulled from the stub to be added to the community cards, so that there are always seven community cards. Note that there are no "burn cards" used in this game.
Three hole cards are dealt to each player, followed by a first betting round. Then a single community card is dealt, followed by a second betting round. Play continues with a single community card being added to the board followed by a betting round, until there are four community cards, for a total of five betting rounds. Upon showdown, the lowest-ranking card on the board, and all cards of that same rank either on the board or in players' hole cards, play as wild cards (thus, it is not possible to know exactly which cards will be wild until the end, unless a deuce appears on the board earlier than that). Each player makes his best five-card poker hand from his three-hole cards plus the four community cards in any combination, with the low board card wild.
Named after the elevator manufacturing company. In this game, all players are dealt four hole cards, and then the community cards are dealt facedown in an "H" formation: two vertical lines of cards, and one card in the center between the two lines. There is a betting round; then, two of the corner cards (it doesn't matter which) are turned up and there is another betting round; then the other two corners, then betting; the two cards on the sides, then betting; and finally, the center card, and betting. The center card is the "elevator card", and can be positioned on any of the three "floors" created by the two vertical lines. Each player can take the elevator to the floor of their choice and use the three cards on that floor (including the elevator card) with their hole cards to make the best hand.
At showdown, each player will have two hole cards, and there will be six community cards on the board arranged in a circle (something like the even-hour marks on a clock). The rounds go like this: each player is dealt two hole cards, followed by the first betting round. Then two of the board cards at opposite sides of the circle (call them 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock) are dealt, followed by a second betting round. Two more opposite community cards are dealt (2 o'clock and 8 o'clock), followed by a third betting round. Finally, the 4 o'clock and 10 o'clock cards are dealt followed by a fourth and final betting round, and showdown.
At showdown, each player makes a hand by combining his two cards with any three consecutive cards of the board. That is, he can use 12, 2, and 4; or 2, 4, and 6; or 6, 8, and 10; etc. So cards dealt to opposite sides of the circle will never appear in the same final hand. With exactly two hole cards, there are only six possible choices for which hand to play. The game can be modified a bit by dealing three hole cards, where each player is required to use exactly two of them plus three consecutive board cards.
While cards are dealt as in stud poker, at any time during the deal one player can call "spit", whereupon the next card is turned face up as a community card. (This variant is mentioned in the Ray Stevens song Shriner's Convention.) Occasionally, the dealer specifies a number of "spits" that can take place.
For this game, Aces, 2's, and 3's are wild. Each person is dealt 4 cards, can see the flop, and after the flop must get rid of one card. After the flop, they see the next 2 cards and make the best hand out of their 3 cards and the 5 on the field. Betting is similar to Texas Hold'em, and the best five card hand wins.