Casual Poker

Casual Poker is a poker variant for the casual player.  The goal of the game is to capture the depth and tension of poker, without needing money or chips.  While removal of chips and money decreases the tension, it is made up for by addressing one of poker’s other flaws for the casual player, the slow pace.

The first attempt at designing the game had players playing with large hands, collectively using the entire deck, and selecting the best 5-card hand while betting some of their cards as currency.  The winner would win the cards in the pile, and the rounds would be played that way until one player had all the cards.  However, this idea quickly fell on it’s face, as the winner of the first round would continue getting advantages until they were sure to win the game.

The second iteration had players with their own face-down decks, made by splitting a full deck evenly, and they simply played 5-card stud with their cards as currency and 5 random cards as their hand, with one round of redrawing (like in 5-card stud).  However, as soon as I began playing I remember just how boring 5-card stud is, in comparison to my personal favorite and popular choice Texas Holdem Poker.

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Here’s how the final game is played:

Win condition: Get the best poker hand or be the last remaining player in the round, score points, knock players out and the last remaining player wins.

What you need: Deck of cards, score card, 3-5 players.

The game is played in rounds. Each round flows as such:

Dealing Phase:

1. Deck is shuffled

2. Dealer deals all cards into even stacks (one per player)
except for five of them.

3. Last five cards are placed in a stack in the center. Keep the bottom card covered!

4. Dealer distributes stacks but players must not look at the cards.

5. The players that have cards from their points won from previous rounds must combine the stack of cards that they won and the new stack that he/she receives for the new round and shuffle thoroughly.

5. Player to the left of the dealer is the Big Blind. He/she must place two cards face-down, to be used as a blind bet.

6. Player to the left of the Big Blind is the Small Blind. He/she must place one card face-down as a blind bet.

7. Each player draws two cards, and may look at them.

The rest of the round plays out like a round of Texas-Holdem Poker, where facedown cards are bet instead of chips, and five cards that were left undealt are used as the community cards. The only variant is that players may choose to discard and redraw cards from their deck during their turn a total of three times, as long as they have cards, before taking their turn.

The winner of the round wins the betted cards in the pot counts the number of cards they won and adds them to their score. The cards are then collected and shuffled, and then the dealer deals to each player a number of cards corresponding to the number of points each player has.

When the number of total points earned by all the players exceeds
52 – 5 community cards – 2*numberOfPlayers for each player’s hand + 1 extra needed for betting, there won’t be enough cards left to deal to the all the players and have any betting. At this point, the player with the least amount of points is knocked out. In the event of a tie for the lowest score, all tying players are knocked out. Then, the points
reset and the game is played again until only one player remains.

Variants:
-nobody is knocked out and the game is played again until one player has three wins.
-play with more than one deck.

This variant to poker results in little downtime for players, by making games short, so players can get back into the action.  Even if a player gets knocked out, it’ll only be a few more minutes until the game is over and they can play again.  This solves the issue of house poker games where the game drags on for hours, and players that get knocked out are left out of the fun for so long.  The other issue, the slow pace, is solved by pressuring players into playing more hands.  The way the mechanics are, the losses by any given player are dispersed among everyone else, so there’s no sense in waiting for pocket pairs all the time when every round you don’t play results in a loss if you don’t win.

Poker games don’t tend to stand up on their own without money betting, but with this variant, players can use all the skills they’ve learned from playing poker and apply it to one that does.  The only drawbacks of poker have been cut out, and what’s left is a deep game of deception and optimization, without having to fold 90% of hands pre-flop to be effective.

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