Rules of Guts Poker

Guts poker is a Hold'em variant although the rules are a little out there on their own. There are a few variations to the standard game of Guts in which players are either dealt two or three hole cards cards dealt, as part of the initial deal. The concept behind the game is simple enough - the attraction of the game is largely due to the ease at which money can change hands at the table.

As with most games, each round starts with an ante. All players will be dealt hole cards face down (you can play either two or three). All players will then indicate whether they are 'In' or 'Out' at the same time. You Chicken?The players who stay 'In' then have a showdown and the player who has the best 5 card hand, wins the pot - the losers match the pot, ready for the next deal. So if there is $20 in the pot, the winner would win $20. If there were three other players who stayed in the hand, and were losers, they would each put $20 in the pot, meaning that there would be $60 to start the next deal.The cards are then collected, shuffled and re-dealt and the game begins again.

The game only ends when there is one player who has the 'Guts' to stay in, who would take down the whole pot (with nothing carrying over to the next hand). The beauty of the game is that as we all know, the more money in a pot, the harder players fight to win it, so as the pot grows, it becomes increasingly attractive, inducing more players to take a shot to try to take it down.

The Use Of Caps

The game often makes use of betting caps - that is to say that there is a limit to how much a player who called 'in' can win and similarly how much a player who called 'out' will have to pay into the pot. In essence a cap just limits the contributions into the pot - as i said, it can get expensive, especially where there is no winner for a few hands. For example, lets assume that a $10 cap is called in your home game. The result of this cap would be that an 'in' player who wins the pot would only ever win $10 as a maximum, even if the pot size was over $10. So, lets for the sake of argument assume that the pot stands ar $30 and 3 players call 'in'. The player with the winning hand would win $10 leaving $20 left in the pot. Now, usually a player is declared the winner at this point, but when using a cap this would not be the case.

Now there would be $20 left in the pot which would mean that there would need to be 3 consecutive winners to win the entire pot. The advantage of playing with caps is that you cannot lose your mortgage on chasing a solitary pot. The disadvantage of playing with a game cap is that the game takes significantly longer to get a winner, the point at which a game would end. Not to mention, it's less exciting playing with caps. In addition you tend to get a greater number of players calling 'in' as they know they can only lose a certain amount of money (much like low limit players and limit games who tend to chase cards as the price is low to do so).

The Kitty

The Kitty is used as a blind hand that is dealt face down next to the dealer and is Kittydesigned to give the players protection from the dealer picking up pots. This hand is not shown until the hand is over. All players who call 'in' must have a winning hand against all the rest of the players who called 'in' but they must also beat this 'Kitty hand'. If they don't then all players who called 'in' must match the pot (along with those that called 'out').

The use of the Kitty is used to protect against all players before the dealer calling 'out' which would result in the dealer calling 'in' and winning the pot - in essence it removes the dealer advantage. So a player would only win when they beat all other 'in' players and the Kitty. Obviously, playing a capped game with the Kitty is not advisable if there is any hope of the game finishing.

Coin Declare

Coin declare is used to help negate positional advantage. In a normal game, the first person to act would be left of the dealer. Traditional thinking states that the later to act in the hand that you are the more advantage you would have (getting to see players act before you). The idea of coin declare is to have everyone declare whether they are 'in' or 'out' at the same time. By playing the hand this way there is no advantage gained by anyone, as positional advantage is only an advantage where you see what opponents do first to decide how to play.

How you agree to declare is up to you. It's common place to do a 1-2-3 count and then all players declare. It's also common place to add a rule to protect against late declarations. It's been known for a player to slightly delay his declaration so that he hears how many other players are staying 'in'. Any player doing this should automatically be 'out' of the hand.

Guts Variations to game

There are a few more variations to this game that can be played:

1) Everyone Ante

This variation, which can be used in any game so that with each new round of the game, every player re-antes into the pot. Under normal rules, the pot will only increase in size when at least three players go in (the first collects the pot, the second matches the pot, and the third doubles the size of the pot). In 'Everyone Ante', the pot increases at least by the size of every players' antes with each round.

2) It's All Guts

This Gut variation is used primarily in Draw games but in reality can be used in just about any game. Players would declare whether they are 'in' or 'out' of the hand. Those that are out would remain so until a new hand is dealt. This that remain 'in' would have a draw before the showdown where the one with the best hand would take down the pot, the rest match it.

Get in the Action

Whilst you won't find this particular game played online, you can play Texas Hold'em as well as over 20 other games!. See which games are available and how rooms stack up against each game.


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