Dealer's Choice

Here are several poker variants. We have played most of them, and found them to be more fun than Night Baseball. Poker being what it is, variants like these are probably played by other people and called different things.

If this short list makes you thirst for more, I suggest Dealer's Choice by Earnest, Foglio, and Selinker. It is a cracking good read, and laid out so thoughtfully that I emulate their format in describing these variants.

Doctor Pepper Split

Draw or stud. At the showdown, you make two hands. In one of the hands, 10s, 2s, and 4s are wild (just as in Doctor Pepper Wild). The other hand is a natural hand, with nothing counted as wild. The best Doctor Pepper hand splits the pot with the best natural hand.

Note that 10s, 2s, and 4s can still appear in the natural hand; they just don't count as wild. A hand with four 10s will probably win both as a Doctor Pepper hand and as a natural hand, taking the whole pot.

Variants: You can split the pot between crazy and natural hands for other poker variants. We have occasionally played Hamlet Split, but craziness is reduced; the special rules make less of a difference than they do in Doctor Pepper, so the pot often ends up being taken by one player who has both the best natural hand and the best Hamlet hand.

Dumpster Diving

5-card draw. Play proceeds normally until after the second betting round. When players draw, they should leave the cards that they are discarding in a pile in front of them-- do not mix them into a mush pile. After the second betting round, players who are still in the game pass the cards that they discarded to the live player on their left. Players then have between five and nine cards, depending on how many the player on their right drew. There is a third betting round, and then the player who can make the best five-card hand out of their cards wins.

Variants: You can combine Dumpster Diving with other variants to add wild cards, split hi-lo, or whatall else. We have played a fair amount of Dumpster Diving Doctor Pepper Split.

Fuzzy Numbers

Draw or stud. Cards numbered 3 through 10 can be used as cards of one rank lower. For example, 5s are effectively either 5s or 4s.
Background: Cristyn made this one up. It is a limited-wild-card variant, perfect for when you want to call something slightly wacky but not so tumultuous as Dr. Pepper or Baseball.

Iron Chef

7-card stud. Before dealing any cards, the dealer turns one card face up. The suit of the face up card determines the 'theme ingredient' suit. At the end of the game, a hand that contains three cards of the theme ingredient suit is worth a category and a half more. For example, a theme-ingredient pair beats a plain two pair but loses to plain three of a kind.
Clarification: The three cards must be part of the five cards used to make a poker hand. This means that a player who could make either a theme-ingredient two pair or a plain three of a kind does better making the two pair.
Background: This is inspired by the Japanese TV show of the same name. If you are really in the spirit, the dealer should ham up the unveiling of the theme ingredient. "The challenger is making a pair, but how is the theme ingredient going to work into this? I think he is going to steam it."
Variants: You could have the theme ingredient also determine a wild card. You could require three cards of the theme ingredient suit; if no one gets them, live players re-ante and another hand is dealt.

Pass the Crap (Draw)

5-card draw, sort of. After the first betting round, the first player on the dealer's left draws from the hand of the player on her left. The second player decides which cards to give to the first player; it probably won't be good. The second player gets the discards from the first, and then draws from the third player, and so on. The dealer draws from the first player. Then there is another betting round.
Clarification: Suppose Alice is on the dealer's left and Bob is on her left. Alice wants three cards. Bob picks three cards from his hand, and these are Alice's draw. Bob gets Alice's three discards, and then draws from the player on his left. It is possible that he will discard the three cards he got from Alice. Those cards could go all the way around the table, if nobody wants them. If so, Alice gets stuck with them when the dealer discards them. It is not called 'pass the diamonds', you know.
Background: Debra Jean Harris made this one up. It prompted me to make up Pass the Crap (Stud), which is thematically similar.
Variants: You could have players draw randomly from the hand on their left, but this would make it less likely that Alice will get her three dismal cards back.

Pass the Crap (Stud)

7-card stud, Roll your own all day long. When you roll a card, it becomes an up card for the player on your left.
Variants: This game is terrible as 5-card stud. You could add wildcards, but Pass the Crap Baseball is not for the faint of heart.


Draw or stud. 6s and 9s are interchangeable. Your 6s can be used as 9s, and your 9s used as 6s.
Background: Another of Cristyn's limited-wild-card variants. It feels like you are playing something wacky, but really it is not much different than playing straight poker.