The Ashland Invitational Poker Club is a dealer's choice game with the traditional understanding that games adhere to the conventional poker hierarchy (high or low). The following represents a partial roster of games played and a nearly comprehensive list of games now frequently called:
Five Card Draw
"The Backbone of Poker," this is the oldest form of poker to bear the name. For the Invitational, the maximum number of draw cards, unless otherwise announced by the dealer to be fewer, is traditionally the number of cards available to all if all in the hand were to draw the maximum, e.g. seven players could draw a maximum of two cards each. Twirl your mustache; you're a riverboat gambler.
Five Card Stud
Most commonly played one-down, four-up, the dealer may also call one-three-one with only the three middle cards up.
Seven Card Stud
Beloved by many, this game is a classic, too.
There are two primary variations. The Invitational Game default is California Lowball or Ace-to-Five Lowball, where the best hand is "the wheel," or A-2-3-4-5, straights and flushes not counting against you. The more literal version of winning with the worst hand, Kansas City or Seven-deuce Lowball, is seldom called here. In that game, straights and flushes count against you as high hands.
Seven card stud, played for low only. As in Lowball, "the wheel works," which is to say, Ace-to-Five is the preferred version.
In this ever-popular variant of seven stud, the high hand splits the pot with the low hand.
Six Card Hi-Lo, Hi-Lo
Nope, not a typo. The repetition seems to have crept in as a handy way to make sure it registers that it's six card, not five or seven card, played high and low. Very popular at one time. Someone on the Council of Elders had a soft spot for this baby before Omaha came along.
Texas Hold 'Em
Yeah, it's what you're tired of watching on the Travel Channel, ESPN, Food Network, and every late night channel you can't flip past fast enough. It is a great game, though, and we play a great deal of it. We've even had tournaments.
AKA Rowe-maha. The exactly-two-from-your-hand stipulation inherent in Omaha makes this game tough for even good players who know not to play it like Hold 'Em. You can hear it shouted from tables across the land: "Doh!"
Ah, the good old days. This favorite from our earliest days of play is called infrequently now; but it can be exciting, if only for its tendency to build a pot. (Every unopened round demands a minimum white chip "sweetener" from every player, and the requirements for winning make players reluctant to fold.) The game is five card draw with a pair of jacks or better to open a round of betting and three of a kind or better to collect a win. Winning a couple of these in a night would definitely make your pockets jingle. Although allowing for some unique tactics at times, there's a skew toward the lucky that limits this game to once a night at best these days.
A "dealer's game" in the sense that it can sometimes reward the man in last position, it's five card draw if any player chooses to open with a pair of jacks or better. If no player opens, however, the game reverts to Lowball. One of the Intimidators favorites.
Double Barreled Hold 'Em --Hold 'Em with two communal boards and a split pot-- is a polarizing game. It builds large pots because players have a hard time discerning which of the two boards their opponents are betting on. Hole cards take on added dimensions as well.
Don't confuse it with Double Barrel. Also a variant of Hold 'Em, DP gives you two sets of two down cards, which you are forced to split just before you understand how you ought to have split them.
A rarity, this relative newcomer seems to be universally popular. The game is Hold 'Em with three cards to choose from among before the flop. Not hard to see why it's a hit. Everyone likes that extra chance at a good hand; just don't forget to factor it in for your opponents.
Pass the Trash, AKA Limbo
Pass the trash games are hi-lo split games, declaration by default. Known elsewhere as Pass the Trash or something more colorful, this game took on the name "Limbo" when other similar passing games were added. The new name is a reminder that the passes (first four, then three, then two, then one) go "all the way down." Limbo is not only a hi-low game suspending you in an indeterminate state until game's end, but also one in which you pass all the way down to the lowest number possible.
Get a Mohel, a steady hand is required. It's Limbo with the end snipped off. In the truncated version, there's no final pass of one. Another "Doh!"-moment for many.
Three to the Three
Pass the trash with three cards going to the player three places to your left, two cards going two places to the left, and one card going to the person on your left.
Pass the trash with one pass of three cards to your left and cards then arranged and rolled one-by-one. It's called "The Slow Squeeze" for good reason. You can watch your money work its way into the pot like a pumpkin passing through a python. By the time you know who has won, you also know who has lost.
The Demon Lover! (Take that how you will.) Brought to us under a forgotten name and as a ten card game, Regret is the seven card offspring of Necessity and the Founder. Cards come to you up, one at a time, and you make a pile of five, which you play for high or low, and a pile of two, which becomes the merest shadow of what might have been. Fate hangs suspended overhead until the very... last...
The Game That Shall Not Be Named
More accurately called "The Game That Shall Eternally Be Named," this one is an odd take-it-or-leave-it thing that was formerly known as "Ass Buster." Get five, keep 'em all or trade exactly two, then go for high or low. You should suspect something is wrong when the process of naming a game is more interesting than the game itself.
Take It Or Leave It
Once very popular, this is a hi-lo game with a chance to take or burn a card on separate rounds. Strategy abounds, much of it visible to the observant and feigned by the duplicitous. Plenty of guys like it, so it's somewhat surprising that its popularity has faded.
Chicago & High Chi, Black Mari(ah)
The skeletons in our closet! There's no way around it: these are as close to wild card games as you can come without the brand on your forehead. Chicago is seven stud with a split for the high spade down. High Chi or Hi Shy is a high hand, low spade down pot split with the added indignity of a kill and redeal when the queen of spades comes up. Appalling.
On the subject of oddities, they don't come any odder than this game when it comes to the history of the Ashland Invitational Poker Club. (Truth be told, most of the fun came from engaging players in distracting, read perversely distracting, conversation in the hopes that they'd forget the game, peek at their down cards and be forced to match the pot and fold.) Essentially seven down cards rolled up one at a time and bet blind, the winners should obviously be randomly distributed with the only skill being knowing when to fold and how much to bet based on the cards showing. Did it work that way? No. One of the Game's Founders had to stop calling it because he somehow seemed to always win. It was a freakish thing. Something best not contemplated alone in the house. There are odds... and there are odds.
...Plus The Flavors And Spins
In addition to high, low, or hi-lo, the standard games can be varied by playing them roll-your-own, where every card that is normally dealt up comes down and the player chooses which is placed up from all his cards. Hi-lo games can be played cards-speak or declaration, the latter in accordance with The Great Mantra. Many hi-lo games are now called "Eight or under," or "Casino rules," meaning there is no winning low hand unless that low's highest card is an eight or less. Finally, the variation known as "With Control" gives the leading hand a chance to play the game out or redeal the same game again hoping for a better chance at winning. The game called Mayor Daley is, for obvious reasons, "Chicago With Control."
For information about the Regulars, the current Standings, the Hall of Fame, or the Alcove of Infamy, select the appropriate link as pages become available. Check back for Ashland Invitational Poker Club branded product.
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