Sviten Special: The Greatest Poker Game Ever

Published On: 19 March 2010 / Modified: 17 May 2018
Created By: Sean Lind
home game

The title might seem sensational but I assure you this is the greatest poker variant I have ever played. 

This is a game guaranteed to spice up that otherwise dull home game. In fact, this game is so awesome, so terrifically badass, so freakin amazing! I felt I had to write a blog and share it with all of you.

The game is called Sviten Special and it was invented by some Swedish guy named Anders Bengtsson.

Obviously this Bengtsson guy is a player with a sick need for constant degenerate action on every hand. Although I've never met the guy, I'm sure him and I would get along well.

I learned the game from a friend of his, Franke Boy. All I have to say is thank you.

How to Play Sviten Special Poker

Sviten Special is a split pot game, but not in the way you're thinking. The game is basically a mix of Pot-Limit Omaha and Five-Card Draw.

Half the pot goes to best draw hand, half the pot to the best Omaha hand.

The blinds and button all function the same as Omaha (or Hold'em). If you don't know what that means you should head to the rules section before you read on.

Each player is dealt five cards (all face down), and the first betting round ensues.

Just like Omaha, this game is typically played as a Pot-Limit game, since the action is already degenerate enough without allowing over-pot ships; I'd recommend you only play it as so.

After the completion of the first betting round a standard 3-card flop is dealt, (so far we're just playing 5-card Omaha).

Once that betting round is complete, each player must "lock in" the total number of cards they wish to exchange. Players are allowed to keep all cards (stand pat) or exchange up to all five (assuming you're playing with five or less players. With six or seven players you must limit the draw round to three cards per player). There is only one draw, so choose wisely.

Players announce the number of cards they would like to exchange (separating them from their hand so that they can't be changed after announcing) in the standard betting order. This means the button will always be the last player to lock in.

Once all players have locked in, the dealer deals new cards to all players just like in standard 5-card draw.

The Twist of the Sviten Special Draw

Just to make things more fun, there's a little twist to the draw portion of the hand. 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.

Once all players have received their new cards the flop betting round begins. Once the betting round is over the turn is dealt. The game functions the same as Omaha from this point on, until the showdown.

At the showdown the player with the best Omaha hand (2 cards from their hand, 3 from the board) wins half the pot, and the player with the best draw hand (all five cards from their hand) wins the second half.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Sviten Special Notes:

  • Take care in building side-pots. Splitting the pot with side pots is not difficult if you know what you're doing, but if you're new to split pots and side pots make sure to build the side pots before you go to the showdown, and deal with each pot in turn (starting with the smallest side pots). This will keep confusion to a minimum.
  • Because of the discards there is a maximum number of players for this game. If you're allowing a full 5-card discard you can only play with 5 players max, for 6 or 7 you need to limit the discard to 3 cards.
  • If you run out of cards in the stub, all mucked cards (excluding the board burn cards) are re-shuffled back into the deck. The deck is cut, and play continues as normal.

Basic Sviten Special Strategy

Just like any split-pot game, you're playing to dominate for half of the pot, with as decent a chance as possible to scoop for the whole thing. Because you get to see the flop first before you commit to a draw, you want to evaluate your hand at that point.

If you have the nuts, or a good chance at making the nuts in Omaha, you want to keep all cards needed for that, and drop the rest to try and improve on your draw hand.

If you miss the board entirely, chances are you want to fold, unless you have a very strong draw hand. Most players are playing for the Omaha pot first, the Draw hand second. If you have two-pair or better in the draw hand, you should often feel very confident about your standings.

Pay attention to how many cards each player exchanges. Although a player who drops 4 cards can pick up a monster, chances are they'll have nothing better than a pair. If a player draws just one card, they will be on a strong made hand (trips or two pair) or are drawing 1 to a flush or straight.

Since they get two chances at hitting by drawing one, a player dropping just one card is a very dangerous player to pit your draw hand against.

There you have it, Sviten Special - the best poker game ever invented. Print this page out and bring it to your next home game, just be sure to bring along a handful of re-buys: the action is furious.


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Bones60x 2012-09-29 23:21:54

Dear S. Lind:

I just want to take a minute here to THANK YOU sincerely for the incredible introduction to this Sviten Special game. What an amazing thing it is, indeed!

I first read this article some time ago, but have had trouble getting "the boys..." to ever really try it with me. Finally last night there were 6 of us getting a bit bored, and boy oh boy, did this thing ever almost literally catch fire!

Just to illustrate, we were playing mostly 25cent/50cent Blinds NLHE, PLO, PLO8B, and some 7S8B and 5 Card Draw H/L Declare as well when I finally convinced them to try this thing for a "round" (orbit)...

Our biggest pot of the night by that time had probably been under $100 FYI, and most were much smaller than that (starting buyins were just $40-60 for most of us, and there were only a few rebuys at that point).

As soon as we started this thing though, within like 3 hands we had 3 people all-in with a pot in the $300-400 range! And for the rest of the night, it was the only game anyone picked (Someone even commented "Well, anything else at this point would be anticlimactic...")!

I mean, it was just one of the craziest things I've seen in Poker. The chip case got used up and $100 bills started coming out of people's pockets, and then this guy just pulled out his wallet and slapped it down on the table announcing "$500 behind..."!

I almost couldn't believe it when you wrote it of course, I mean, it's just so easy to overblow things like this, but again it truly just got everyone going quicker than I could have anticipated and I really, really appreciate you taking the time to help us get that started around here... I'm sort of concerned it'll become our only game for a while now?!

Now, for a bit more advice/clarification here please... First of all, I went back and read about the pre-flop and post-flop betting rounds, and it seems a bit unclear as to whether or not the "flop betting round" happens before or after the draw...?

At one point you say "Once all players have received their new cards,the flop betting round begins." Is that clear, I mean, aren't we supposed to bet on the flop right after it's put down, i.e. before the draw? And then I assume we bet again right after the draw, of course before the Turn? Maybe it's just the wording in there in different spots but I want to be clear about how many betting rounds there really are and, of course, what we should be calling them please.

Also, what is the significance/risk of "locking in" if not done properly? Can you suggest a certain way to do it right and properly every time, like what should we verbalize/wait for from each player, etc.?

Finally, I know it's probably very rare, but do rank value of suits come into play here as well at least in the draw portions of your hand, like if a Club Wheel comes up against a Heart Wheel, does the Heart hand wins that 50% of the pot entirely since it outranks Clubs alphabetically?

Again, any more advice you could give on this incredible game (or other sites/books/articles/etc.) you could point me to would be greatly, GREATLY APPRECIATED. Take care Sir and THANKS AGAIN!!! ;-)


Frank 2010-04-11 18:43:48

Svitten is the sickest yet most fun game you can play at a home game. I'm sold!

Peter 2010-03-24 22:34:09

The first version of this game was played H/L with 5 card draw, split in 3 pots, each 33%. Since then it has evolved to only be 2 pots as most new players don't understand a low hand.

chojrak 2010-03-23 19:43:00

Crazy game !!!

Q: What's the skill involved if you can have the nuts cracked in super-strange ways?

weee 2010-03-22 03:21:05

its not omaha hi lo

Noroll 2010-03-21 14:04:53

Ok, here goes!

Honecker is a Hold 'Em split game (hi/lo).

The best Hold' Em hand wind ½ the pot
and the player who has the lowest hand wins the other ½.

For low A=1, 2=2, 3=3,..... J=11, Q=12, K=13. A low hand only contains a players REMAINING hole cards (the cards he/she has not discarded!). Meaning if a player after the river is dealt has 27 left in his hand, he has a 9 low hand and beats a guy who has only a T left (he has a 10 low hand). Low hands of same value split the low half of the pot.

Blinds and buttons functions like in standard Hold 'Em. It can be played as NL or PL - your choice!

Each player gets dealt 4 hole cards followed by the 1st betting round.

We then head to the flop.
A normal flop is dealt.
Then a "discard flop" is dealt - placed in a row under the normal flop. Each player must now discard the cards in their hole cards that match cards from the discard flop; meaning if discard flop comes K72 all players must discard 2's, 7's and K's.
When this is done we have the 2nd round of betting.

The turn is the same:
Normal turn card + discard turn card - followed by 3rd betting round.

Same again. River + discard river - followed by 4th and final betting round.

At showdown a player's high hand is the best possible Hold 'Em hand made from the board + the player's remaining hole cards.
A player's low hand is the number of "dots" left in his hole cards as described above. It is possible to have "a blank" for low, if the player has had ALL his hole cards discarded - he then has nut low (0 low hand) and plays the board for high!

Notice that if the same card appears in the normal board AND the discard board all players must discard that card in their hole cards. But the card is still in play (on the board) and CAN be used for making straights/flushes etc.

About the game:
Quite often straights will be counterfeited. You may hold AK in your hand to a flop of QJT. If an ace then appears on the discard board you must discard your ace. But remember you can bring your straight back to live again if another ace hits the board on turn or river!

Aces are of course key cards since they make big high hands (especially nut flushes) and are the lowest cards as well.

Take notice though that even though you hold the nut flush on say a QJ732 board, you - unlike in normal Hold 'Em, DON'T have the nuts!!!

... Another player might have JJJ or even 332 in the hole! (since you are allowed to use as many of your hole cards as you wish for your high hand)

The beauty of the game is the discard board. You can have a monster hand counterfeited if your key card shows up in the discard board on turn/river. Likewise a mediocre hand can turn into a monster by counterfeitng better high hands and improving to a very strong low hand.

And hey... If you are dealt AAAA rest assured you have an absolute monster!!! ;-)

chojrak 2010-03-20 21:23:50


I'm interested to find out if you are so kind :) Couldn't find it on the web...

Noroll 2010-03-20 14:16:59

Sure sounds like a lot of fun and sick action. :-)
I'm already thinking... why not spice it up further and make it omaha h/l?

50% for best 5-card draw hand
25% for best omaha high hand
25% for best omaha low hand (if there is one)

Speaking of sick action games: do you know the game Honecker? A friend of mine introduced me to it in our home game. It's exciting, extremely simple but yet complex since it's by far the most dynamic poker game I've played. You can have the nuts counterfeited in ways you didn't even thought was possible!

I'll post the rules here if anyone's interested?



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