How to Host the Perfect Poker Home Game is a 13-part series on how to run the superlative poker night for all your friends and coworkers.
We’ll cover everything from what game of poker is easiest to play, what hand beats what and even what drinks and food to serve. Follow this guide and people will be reserving their seat at your table weeks in advance.
In our 11th article we’ll show you how to break free from the shackles of No-Limit Hold’em. It’s a big, gambley world out there if you know what games to play.
These three games are easy to play and guaranteed to inject some action into your home game if you’re stuck in a Hold’em rut.
As the numbers get higher the gamble quotient goes up. Once you get to number three you might as well just put your stack in the middle blind.
#1 – Pineapple/Crazy Pineapple
Pineapple and Crazy Pineapple are two of the easiest ways to dip your toe in the mixed-game pool. That’s because it’s played almost exactly like Hold’em.
In both the sane and mentally unstable versions of Pineapple each player receives three cards.
The difference is:
- In Pineapple you must discard before making your preflop action
- In Crazy Pineapple you must discard before making your action on the flop
In both games, if you fail to discard by the appropriate time and act with three cards, your hand is dead.
The concept is easy. By giving players an additional card you’re going to see big hands more often, infusing your home game with some much needed action.
Strategy Tip: If the rest of the table is playing Pineapple like it’s Hold’em, tighten up and make a monster before putting your chips in. Because of the extra card you’ll need a bigger hand on average to win than you would in Hold’em.
#2 – Pot-Limit Omaha
Pot-Limit Omaha is arguably the game that strikes the best balance between action and poker skill, and it’s easy to learn if you play Hold’em.
The only differences between PLO and Hold’em are:
- Each player gets four hole cards
- You must use EXACTLY TWO of your hole cards, with three community cards, to make a five card hand (If there are four clubs on the board, you still need two clubs in your hand to make a flush)
- The game is played pot-limit, instead of no-limit
In pot-limit games you can only bet and raise a maximum of what’s in the pot. If you’re just opening the betting it’s easy to figure out (just count the pot) but when there’s a raise or two in front of you it gets more complicated.
Trick to calculate how much you can raise: Take the last bet and multiply by three, then add the pot and all other bets. That total is the maximum you can raise to.
Example: There’s $100 in the pot and the big blind has led out for $50 on the flop. Another player has raised to $150 and now you want to raise pot.
Multiply the last bet ($150) by three and add the pot ($100) and all other bets ($50). Raising pot here will mean raising to $600.
Even if you fancy yourself a PLO shark, you should check out our How To Not Suck at PLO series. Seriously, it will help you not to suck at PLO.
#3 – Sviten Special
The Swedish are the only people on Earth sick enough to come up with a game like this.
Developed in the underground card clubs of Stockholm Sviten Special is a split pot game that’s essentially a mix between Five-Card Omaha and Five-Card Draw.
The gameplay is the same as Omaha, except there’s a draw after the flop where you can exchange up to five of your cards.
Betting continues on the turn and river but at showdown the pot is split between the best board hand (Two hole cards and three board cards) and the best Five-Card Draw hand (The five cards in your hand).
One Card Draw Rule
If you choose to exchange only one card, the dealer will turn over the top card of the deck, letting all players see that one card. You have the choice to take that card, or receive the next card in the deck face down.
This is an action game and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Check out our comprehensive Sviten Special Rules and Strategy to get yourself up to speed.
Works Best Shorthanded
Because each player can use up to ten cards during the course of a hand, you may find the deck depleted when playing with five or more players.
There are two easy ways to deal with this.
- Limit the number of cards you can exchange
- Reshuffle the discard pile from previous players’ draws
More articles on How to Host the Perfect Poker Home Game:
- Part 1: Equipment
- Part 2: Hand Rankings
- Part 3: How to Play
- Part 4: How to Set Up
- Part 5: What to Drink
- Part 6: What to Eat
- Part 7: Who to Invite
- Part 8: Etiquette
- Part 9: How to Beat your Friends
- Part 10: Cheaters
- Part 11: More Games, More Gamble
- Part 12: Odds and Exceptions
- Part 13: Which Hand Wins Calculator