Sviten Special: The Greatest Poker Game Ever

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Published On: 19 March 2010 / Modified:
Created By: Sean Lind
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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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