a new take on some old favorites

July 27, 2011 | 4:55 am | JCarver

While at the WSOP, I had several opportunities to play in some rather interesting home games. Over the summer, I played holdem, plo, pineapple, three-card holdem, 5 and 6 card plo, pot limit badugi double draw, pot limit stud (starting with 4 cards), chinese, and a few other even stranger games for just an orbit here and there. Being that I surround myself with a group of truly sick gamblers, I feel it’s likely that I’ve played in some of the biggest games ever spread of the more rare variants listed (at one point in the summer I opened to $5000 utg with KxKs5s in pineapple, no joke). I’m absolutely not even close to rolled for games that big and never really have before.  I broke a few personal records over the summer in these games, including some bad ones like  playing my longest non-break session ever (only 20hrish), biggest losing day ever (first time I lost 6-figures in a day), almost following that up by almost losing almost the same amount a few days later before pulling back to even.

Of all the games we played, one game was played by far most frequently and it might not be one you are familiar with – Taiwanese poker.  Although many people on twitter have taken credit for creating it, these various claims are all so unconnected that I have no idea who to believe.  All I know is over the course of the summer we developed the game from the rough outline we had learned about into a pretty concrete format with a bunch of alternative deviations and things that I thought would be cool to share.

The basics of the game are easy. Everyone is dealt 7 cards, and from those cards, sets a 1-card (highcard), 2-card (holdem), and a 4-card omaha hand (similar to chinese in this way). You can either slowroll your opponents or table your hand pre-flop, but in any case, a board is run out.  Initially, we kept the scoring like chinese – everyone matching up to everyone else – but it really, really slows the game down, especially 4+handed, and eventually we decided to just let whatever hand that reigned supreme over the same-game hands would simply scoop. We also added a tiered payout base – 1unit for the front, 2units for the middle, 3units for the back hand, a 2unit scoop bonus (2 tier-2 holdem level points) and a royalty system (these are additional, not total payouts):

taiwanese royalties

A quick example hand:

taiwanese example

At this point, a board would be run out…

Js 5c 6c 2h 6s

For the front hand, the pair of jacks wins 1 point (let’s say the base unit is $100) so $100 apiece to player 2.
For the middle hand, the dueces full wins for player 3, and he also wins the FH bonus for an 2 points.  The holdem hand is worth a base of $200, with a 2unit bonus, netting that player $600 from each opponent.
For the back hand, the full house from player 1 wins ($300 base unit payout) and a 1-point bonus for $600 apiece paid to him.

We tested some other variants – doing it all even payouts (1unit for all 3) but that makes it too easy to play optimally, running multiple boards (fun, more action, we do 2x or 3x almost always), adding a 4th badugi hand that wasn’t affected by the board (to appease certain similarly-named-to-me :coolfish: ).  I think there’s potential for adding natural hands (7-straight, 5flush-2flush, maybe 3pair?) and the royalty system probably still needs more tweaks to be balanced, but even as is, I highly recommend it as it’s a lot of fun gambling game to add into a shorthanded home game.  Try it out and let me know if anyone develops any cool tweaks/variants!

P.S. thanks to Derk for the editing help!

3 Responses to “a new take on some old favorites”

  • July 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Jeremy said:


    You talking about Mercier when you talk about the similarly named fish? haha

  • February 17, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Michail said:


    n1. But shouldn’t the front hand in your example be awarded 1 bonus point for 2p making it 200$ each? Guess it’s kind of late to comment on that, but just stumbled across…

  • March 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Ravensburger Labyrinth said:


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