Community Card Poker Games Other Than Hold’em
The most popular poker game in the world these days is Texas hold’em, although Omaha is popular in Europe and growing more popular daily. So community card poker games are familiar to most people. Even lesser-known community card games like pineapple hold’em are easy to pick up on.
This post lists several different poker games with community cards. Surprisingly, most of them bear little resemblance to Texas hold’em. One thing these games do share in common with each other is that they often rely on different shapes in the layout when you’re playing.
My father-in-law loves these games with a love that surpasses reason. You’ll probably like some of them, too. Next time there’s a Thursday night poker game at your place, consider adding some of these games to the mix.
Common Elements of Community Card Poker Games
Community card poker games all share certain elements. Obviously, the sharing of some of the cards among all the players is one of those aspects. Those are the “community cards.” (They’re also often called “the board.”)
But you also can’t have a community card poker game without “hole cards.” These are face-down cards that you play individually. You use a combination of hole cards and community cards to create your final hand. Typically, when dealing a community card game, the hole cards get dealt first, then the community cards.
If you’re lazy, and it’s your turn to deal, consider spreading a community card game. You won’t have to deal as many cards that way. Just remember that even if you fold early in the hand, you’re still responsible for turning over additional cards in the later rounds. The players will get mad if you stop paying attention and hold up the game just because you’re no longer in the hand.
Betting order varies based on the game and the customs of the house. In stud poker games, the betting order is determined by the strength of the hands that are showing. In a community card game, though, no one can see your hole cards. And you all share the same face-up cards.
Betting usually rotates around the table clockwise, starting with the first player next to the dealer. In some home games, the betting alternates—during the first round, betting goes clockwise from the dealer, but during the second round, it goes counterclockwise from the dealer, and during the third round clockwise again, and so on.
In some community card games, there’s a lot of checking, but many home games handle that by forcing the player to bet or fold. You can’t check in this situation.
You can have all kinds of geometric shapes in a community card poker game, but they all fall into one of two categories.
The first is a game where the cards are dealt in rows that intersect in various places. If a card intersects with both a row and a column, it’s always the card that gets turned over last. Also, in some games, that card is always treated as a wild card.
Community card games at home are often played hi-lo style, where the lowest card of a certain suit gets half the pot. In these games, it’s customary to make the suit of the card at the intersection the suit that determines the low card. If you want to play a game with a lot of action, play this way, because it stimulates a lot of players to get into the pot.
The other geometric shape that’s often used in games like this is more like a circle. In these games, the cards don’t have intersections at all.
Strategy-wise, if you’re allowed to, you should check when you’re the first bettor. This gives you an opportunity to see where the other players are in the hand. A player who starts betting and raising with just one exposed card probably has strong hole cards.
Also, keep in mind that in a game with more cards, the hand that wins will usually be higher than in a game with fewer cards. You should play tighter in a game like that. That will increase your probability of profiting from such a game.
And now, the games:
- Criss Cross
- Death Wheel
- Iron Cross
- Red and Black
Each player gets five hole cards. The dealer also deals two rows of seven cards face-down in the middle of the table. When you start exposing cards, you expose them as corresponding pairs—if you expose the first card in row one, you also expose the first card in row two, and so on.
You can use just your five hole cards, or you can use three hole cards plus two cards from the board. The two cards from the board that you use have to be one of the pairs of corresponding cards. If you use the first card in row one, you also must use the first card in row two. You can’t use card one from row one and card two or three from row two.
This is a game of big pots, as there are seven betting rounds. (A pair of cards is exposed every betting round.)
Unless you have great hole cards, it’s probably a good idea to check early to see what the other players are going to do. Flushes and full houses are common when you’re dealing with this many cards.
You can play Bundles hi-lo, too.
Here’s what the board will look like:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Cincinnati is probably the simplest community card game outside of Texas hold’em. It might even be simpler than Texas hold’em. Each player gets four hole cards, and four community cards are dealt face down in the middle of the table.
There are five betting rounds. Every betting round, someone can bet and expose another of the community cards.
In most home games, the dealer points out one of the face-down cards and declares it wild.
As far as community card games go, Cincinnati is kinda plain vanilla, but it’s a nice change of pace from Texas hold’em and other community card games.
The board in Cincinnati looks like this:
1 2 3 4
Each player gets four hole cards. Then five cards are dealt in a “cross” pattern for the community cards. One of the cards, obviously, is in the middle of this pattern. It’s the intersection card. The four outside cards always get turned over first. The middle card is always turned over last.
There’s a betting round after each card gets turned over. You must make your final hand using your four hole cards and one of the two rows of three cards. If you’re playing hi lo, you still must choose just one row. You can’t use one row of cards for one hand and the other for the other hand.
You could vary the shape of the cards by putting them in a V or L shape, as long as there’s still one card that’s an intersection. This might avoid offending any religious zealots who are offended by the use of a cross during a card game.
You could also use nine cards instead of five cards. You would have five cards in each row with an intersection card. My father-in-law loves games like this where there are lots of cards, but I think this is a drag.
It’s common to make the card at the intersection a wild card in Criss Cross.
Here’s what the cards look like, usually:
2 3 4
Death Wheel is always played hi lo. You get four hole cards, and then six more cards are dealt in a circle. You must combine three adjacent cards from the circle with the four cards in your hand to create your final hand.
When you’re revealing the cards, it’s mandatory to reveal them one at a time, but you reveal the card opposite of the one revealed previously. As usual, there’s a betting round after each card is exposed.
It’s a fun game where there are many potential combinations—the three-card combinations number six when arranged this way, so you have lots of options for what you combine your hole cards with in Death Wheel.
As the name implies, the community cards in this game are dealt face down in the shape of an “H.” You’ll have two columns of three cards each with a single card in the middle. Each player also gets four hole cards.
The card in the middle is the intersecting card, so it always gets turned over last. You use three cards plus the four cards in your hand to create your final hand, but there are lots of three card in a row combinations. You’re able to use the cards in rows diagonally, too.
H-Bomb is always played hi lo. There are lots of betting rounds, obviously, and you can expect a big hand to win the final showdown—at least a full house.
The cards look like this:
3 4 5
Iron Cross is one of the trickier community card games. You each get three hole cards, and then six community cards are arranged in a pattern that ensures two intersecting cards. There’s one card to the right-most position in the first row, four cards in the second row, and one more card in the left-most position of the third row. The left-most and right-most cards in the second row (the one with four cards) are both wild.
The wild cards must be turned over last. With this many wild cards, the winning hand is almost always at least four of a kind.
Here’s what the cards look like:
5 1 4 6
Cards five and six are the two wild cards. Cards two and three are the intersection cards.
You get four hole cards, then the board is made up of three rows of cards in the shape of a pyramid, as follows:
4 3 6
You combine your hole cards with one of the rows of three cards available in the game. These three-card rows include 5-1-4, 5-2-6, and 4-3-6. The middle cards (1, 2, and 3) must be exposed first. As always, there’s a round of betting after each card is revealed.
You can count on the winning hand being a straight or higher usually, because there are so many possible hands available.
Pyramid’s my favorite of these kinds of games, by the way.
Red and Black
Each player gets four hole cards, then four cards are dealt in two columns, as follows:
One of the rows is designated black, while the other is designated red. When a card gets revealed that doesn’t match the color of its row’s designation, it’s discarded immediately.
Red and Black is played hi-lo. The cards are revealed in the order that they’re numbered in the diagram above. They’re also revealed two at a time, which is a nice change of pace from some of the other games on this list.
If you thought the only community card poker games available to you were Texas hold’em, Omaha, and Pineapple… man, were you wrong. I’ve listed eight more community card games that are perfect for your next home game.
One thing these games all have in common is the ability to build a big pot. They’re also usually played hi-lo, which can be a lot of fun. My strategic recommendation for any of these games is to play a little tighter and more conservatively than usual, especially in the early rounds when you have little information about your opponents’ cards.