Monday, January 17, 2011

Another poker dream

I was at the Golden Nugget, but the poker room had been completely revamped. It looked like somebody's basement rec room, done in a decor that might be called "trashy casual." There was only one game going, and it was being dealt by the players, not by a casino dealer. The cards were bent and torn and stained, as in a really bad home game.

I watched the game for a minute and couldn't figure out what they were doing. I asked what kind of poker this was, and one guy answered, "Crazy Tight." I said I had never heard of that, and he responded, "Nobody has." I asked how it's played, and he just said, "We play to the best jack," then returned to his cards, and gave me the distinct impression he didn't want to answer any more questions.

I was left to surmise that it meant that any hand with a jack in it beat any hand without a jack. That is, if two players at showdown each has a jack, then hand strengths are compared normally: flush beats straight, etc. Same is true for comparing two hands neither of which has a jack. But any old terrible hand that has a jack (e.g., Qd-Jh-8c-5c-4s) beats even the best hand lacking a jack (a 10-high straight flush). Now that I'm awake and thinking about it, it occurs to me that you could extend the concept: Any hand with two jacks in it (e.g., Jc-Jh-Kd-6c-5c) beats even the best hand with only one jack (a royal flush), analogous to how even the smallest two-pair hand beats the best one-pair hand. Any hand with three jacks (or, obviously, four) would be an automatic winner.

In my dream I couldn't figure out the strange playing format, but looking back on it now, I think that this game might play better as stud than as a flop game. (Or maybe triple draw?) If so, the hand you'd really want to be dealt is (J-J)-x, and you really wouldn't care much what your up card was, because you could lose only to another player with the other two jacks, which would be a rare occurrence. (This is assuming you used the two-jack variant described above.) At the same time, nobody would know that you had the J-J concealed, and anybody with a good single-jack hand (straight or flush) would cap the betting with you, if the rest of your board came uncoordinated. Still, it would probably work as just a variant of hold'em, if your poker group doesn't cotton to non-flop games.

I've given this only a few minutes of consideration, but I'm thinking this is actually a pretty workable poker variant for a home game--unlike most of the other slightly demented versions that my sleeping subconscious has invented before. The main thing wrong with it is the name, which is just stupid. I'm not good at coming up with clever titles, but the first decent alternative that occurs to me is this: "You Don't Have Jack." Or maybe, "Jack Be Nimble."

Somebody want to try it at their next poker night? Or ask the Golden Nugget if they really spread this?


Fred said...

Don't be a Jack-off? I'm going to try it at my next home-game, thanks!!

Mark T said...

Done - I'm trying it on wacky week at our home game as well (wacky week is coming up in two weeks).

Mark T said...

Re: names

Jack It Up?

Hmmm. No, I'm gonna go with The Shining. After all, it's crazy and Jack beats everything else.

Goofball pop-reference names like that fit well with the other crazy games at our home game (e.g. The Hamlet Trilogy, Drunkard Poltergeist, Schrodinger's Cat, etc)

Kahomono said...

We tried this at the home "giggle poker" game. Played it as 7CS. We made a rule that the J had to be part of the best 5-card poker hand at showdown, introducing the risk that you could have a J that would not play, so you had to be careful betting it.

I lost the first game of it with quad fours. My other two cards going to the river were J 6. Then I got a Q. Argh!

Mark T said...

We played a full two rounds at our weekly game, but none of us could take it more than that. We tried one round as hold 'em, then one round as 7-stud.

The hold 'em round was terrible. There was no point in playing any hand unless you had a jack, and if you did, you basically went to war with any other jack hand, and it became a kicker war. Turned into a really boring game, frankly.

The 7-stud round was only mildly better - we had a full table for both of these rounds, and essentially in stud you know all the jacks will be out most of the time. So again, if you don't have a jack, there's no point in playing, and no point in bluffing, since a jack hand will never fold.

At least in stud, a particular jack hand can improve relative to another jack hand -- that doesn't happen in hold 'em (except for once when a jack hold 'em hand hit their kicker).

It was still inordinately boring, though. No action except between the 2-3 people who had a jack.