Sunday, April 24, 2011

New poker games

Within the last week I have read about two new poker variants.


The April issue of Poker Pro magazine had a feature on "2-11" poker, which you can also read about here. The name comes from the structure of the game, which has a two-card flop (they call it a "flip"), turn, and river: 2-1-1. Each player is dealt four hole cards. There are four rounds of betting just as in hold'em and Omaha. You make you best five-card hand using either two from your hand and three from the board or three from your hand and two from the board.

It appears that the ability to use three hole cards increases the opportunity to sneak up on opponents with unsuspected monsters--e.g., quads can be made with three in the hand and one on board. Two of a suit on the board is enough to give somebody a flush. It is no longer the case that the board has to be paired in order to make a full house. Etc.

If I've done my math right, you can combine your seven cards in hold'em in 21 different ways to find your best hand; in Omaha (high) you can combine your nine cards in 60 different ways (6 combinations of two cards from your hand times 10 combinations of three cards from the board). In 2-11 poker you can combine your eight cards in 48 different ways (4 ways to combine two out of four cards and 6 ways to combine three out of four makes 24 ways to mix two in your hand and three on the board, plus 24 ways to mix three in your hand and two on the board). This puts it mid-way between hold'em and Omaha in the complexity of reading opponents' holdings. I would think that it would similarly fall mid-way between those two other games in how close to the nuts you'd have to come in order to expect a win.

The game can be played limit or no-limit (or, presumably, pot-limit, though that isn't mentioned anywhere), for high only or high-low split.

The magazine article says that they have been spreading this at the Bicycle Casino to great success. They're using it in some tournaments in alternating rounds with hold'em.

It's patented, which I assume means that any casino wanting to spread it will have to pay a licensing fee. Which, in turn, is necessarily going to limit its growth and popularity. Too bad--I think it would be fun and challenging to try.


I was looking over the schedule for the June Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian when I noticed an unusual event: June 15, "Position Poker (TM)." I found the company's web site here, and an interview with Johnny Chan (obviously a paid endorser) here.

Basically, in addition to the regular button for hold'em or Omaha (or, presumably, any other game with blinds and a dealer button, such at 2-7 triple draw), there is a "winner's button" awarded to the winner of the previous pot. The player with this button acts on each betting round after the regular button. This rewards players who are active and mixing it up; win a hand, and it increases your power to win the next hand. Play tight, and you're punished by almost never having last action.

This variant, too, has been awarded a patent, and, one would guess, they will also demand licensing fees for casinos to offer it, so we're not likely to see it on the menu for regular cash games. Just as well. This one appeals to me a lot less than 2-11, for three reasons. (1) It doesn't reward my generally tight style of play. (2) People already have a hard enough time with playing in turn. The recent proliferation of various button-straddle rules always, always, always causes confusion and slows everything down and gets the order of play screwed up because players are thrown off by anything more complex than strict clockwise action. I think this two-button thing would just be more of the same kind of problems. (3) It just isn't different enough to interest me. It might call for altered tactics, but it doesn't require wholesale rethinking of the game and how to read opponents' hands the way 2-11 will.

Still, I'd be curious to try either one if it were offered locally. If anybody hears of them showing up, please let me know, and I'll pass the word on here.


NerveEnding said...

Bring up the 2-11 variant at the next mix game outing and I would second it!

spooky said...

The 2-11 sounds really interesting. I think I'll give it a try tonight. Thanks!

John said...

I've got a variant we used to play in a backroom game River Holdem.. just like regular but instead of river on the board each remaining player is dealt their own River card face down

Mr 211 said...

Mr. Grump; 2-11 is currently patent pending and open for negotiations whenever a card room wants to spread the game. Thank you for the thread. Sincerely, Mr 211