How to Play Irish Poker

How to Play Irish Poker

Texas Hold'em is a great game but can be frustrating when you don't get decent cards to play pre-flop. Omaha Poker is a great action game, but it's very swingy. What if we told you there's a game that has all the options and action of Omaha but with fewer swings? Allow us to introduce you to Irish Poker!

General Information About Irish Poker

irish poker drinking game

Irish poker is truly a mix of the rules of Texas Hold'em and Omaha Poker. Players start with four hole cards, as if playing Omaha, but must discard two cards after the flop. The remainder of the hand plays like a standard Texas Hold'em hand.

Irish Poker Rules

All action pre-flop is the same as in a standard hand of Omaha Poker. The first player to the left of the dealer button posts the small blind and the second player to the left posts the big blind. Starting with the small blind four cards are dealt to each player. Action begins to the left of the big blind and continues around the table. If action has not been raised by the time the big blind is reached, he has the option to check.

The flop is dealt the same as in Omaha or Hold'em with three community cards face up. Another round of betting ensues starting with the active player closest to the left of the button. Once betting action is concluded the remaining players must then discard two cards. From this point the game is played exactly like Texas Hold'em through the turn and river.

Irish Poker Strategy

In Irish Poker you want to enter the game with an Omaha mindset pre-flop. This means you're looking for starting hands with numerous possibilities. These are the types of hands you're looking for:

  • Double big pairs (AAKK, KKQQ, KKJJ, QQJJ, etc)
  • Double Suited (Ah8hKd10d, As10sQh9h, etc)
  • Wraps (KQJT, QJT9, J1098, 10987, etc)
  • High Pairs with high or middling connectors (KKJT, QQJ10, KKJ9, QQ109, etc)

If all four cards do not work well together in your hand pre-flop, look for a better hand. For more on the best starting hands in Omaha, check our dedicated page here:

Irish Poker Rules
Note: Top pair is a weaker hand in Irish Poker.

What Should I Discard in Irish Poker?

Board texture and flop action will go a long way in determining what moves you should make when discarding. If you flop top pair and face significant resistance on the flop, odds are you're facing an opponent with a flopped set or a nut draw.

Is there a draw on the flop? If so, are you drawing to the nuts or are you the one with top pair? Top pair tends to be a weaker hand in Irish Poker so shy away from the hand with draws on board.

When a draw fails to produce on the flop, work with your pairs and hold your best kicker. If a draw hits the board, stay away from low draws or sucker straight draws unless you're in there for free or cheap. Odds are that someone started with a better pre-flop drawing hand.

Irish Poker: A Fun Variant

Irish Poker is a great way to stir up some action in your poker game without the extreme swings of Omaha Poker. Your swings will be larger than with straight Texas Hold'em but not enough to where it will regularly bust your bankroll. PokerStars is the best place to play Irish Poker online right now as it spreads cash games and tournaments in both Pot-Limit and No-Limit formats.

Irish Poker Drinking Game

Our reservations about cultural stereotypes aside there is also a popular drinking game called Irish Poker which plays nothing like what you read above. The Irish Poker drinking game has a lot of similarities to Ride the Bus, another poplar drinking game, but Irish Poker has its own clear rules and variations. Here's what you need to play Irish Poker:

  • A deck of cards
  • Beers (or other)
  • 3-6 players

How to Set Up Irish Poker Drinking Game

Irish Poker is a fairly easy game to deal and play. The amount you drink can also be easily altered if you want to up the stakes.

How to Deal:

  • Deal two rows of 4 cards each face down in the center of the table (The "bus")
  • Then deal four more cards to each player, also face down

How to Play Irish Poker Drinking Game

Players then proceed to guess on the characteristics of each card in front of them with drinks either given or taken depending on whether they're right or not. So starting to the left of the dealer each player must guess about their unexposed cards, one at a time, according to:

  • 1. Color of card (red/black)
  • 2. Card is higher or lower than first card
  • 3. Card is in-between or outside of first and second cards
  • 4. Suit of card

 When a player is either right or wrong they will either "give" or "take" drinks. According to the rounds drinks are valued:

  • 2 gives/takes
  • 4 gives/takes
  • 6 gives/takes
  • 8 gives/takes

So the first player to the left of the dealer guesses the color of the card; if he/she gets it right, they "give" 2 drinks. They can be given in any amount to any other player at the table (either all to one player or spread around). Then the next player guesses color, gives/ takes etc. Once the first round has gone past every player they start the second round where the drinks are escalated as shown above.

Irish Poker Drinking Game - Final Round

Once everyone has made their four guess for their own cards, play moves to the board with two rows of cards. The top row is the "give" row and the bottom row is the "take" row. The first card in the top row is turned over and if one of your card matches the card turned over you give 2 drinks. If you match the next card you can give out 4, if you match the third card you give out 6, and if you match the last you give out 8. The second row is exposed the same way with the same value except you take the drinks if your card matches.

Extreme Irish Poker version: If you want to up the value of drinks given in the first round you can allocate them based on the value of the card turned over, ie a 2 is 2 drinks, etc. Aces can be one or 14.

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