The name likely derives from the aggression required to win in a game of Bull, as each Player does not know the composition of their hand until the Showdown begins.
Further, the name might come from “Bullshit”, an American curse word that insinuates something is a lie. In this case, it would refer to a Player’s confidence in their hand, as they cannot possibly know if they will win or not until the Showdown begins. This should not be confused with another shedding-type game, known as “Bullshit.”
How to Play Bull Poker?
Bull Poker is played using the 54-card Joker variation of the Anglo-American pattern deck. One of the Jokers should be removed from the deck, leaving only a single Joker. This Joker will be a wild card, with the best possible hand in Bull Poker being a five-of-a-kind (four-of-a-kind and the Joker).
A Dealer should be determined randomly, who will set up and shuffle the Deck. Then each Player must pay in the Ante.
The Ante is a small, agreed-upon wager that all Players must pay equally to be dealt cards. Players that refuse to pay the Ante cannot participate in the game. Players MUST pay the Ante to be dealt cards.
Once the Ante has been played by each Player, the Dealer will deal three cards face-down to each Player. Players may look at these cards, and put them in whatever order they wish onto the table. However, they must remain in that chosen order, and cannot be picked up again. Once each Player, including the Dealer if they are also a Player, has been dealt their cards, the first betting phase may begin.
Players have four possible options during the betting phase of Poker Bull: Fold, Check, Call/Bet, and Raise.
When Players Fold, they surrender their cards and will not be dealt additional cards in late phases of the game. Players that fold do not need to match the highest outstanding bet, but they also forfeit all right to the money they have already wagered, as well as any winnings they may have earned if they continue to play.
Players that check are essentially making a bet of $0, to “check” what the other Players at the table are going to do. Players are only free to bet if the current outstanding bet is $0 (all other previous players Checked) or it is the first turn of the betting phase.
Players must at least Call to continue playing in the game. A Call is a wager that matches the current outstanding bet at the table. If the current going bet is $5, then a Player must at least call $5 to continue Playing. The “Bet” Is simply the first bet made during a hand.
There is the Raise as well, when a Player does not simply match but exceeds the previously highest bet. In this case, all other Players must again Call to match this new highest bet.
There is also a special raise known as the All-in. When going All-in, a Player is betting the whole of their chips on a single hand. As such, they must form a “side-pot.” To form the side-pot, all other Players at the table will match the bet made by the All-Inning Player in the side pot, and then the side-pot will not have additional money put into it until the hand ends. The Player that goes all-in cannot win more than the value of their side-pot.
Further betting phases
After this first betting phase is ended, each Player will be dealt a single face-up card. This card is a part of the Player’s hand and is visible to other Players at the table. After this card is dealt there will be another betting phase.
This process repeats, with a single face-up being dealt, followed by a betting phase, until each player has their three face-down cards, and four face-up cards. Players will reveal the 1st in order of their face-down cards, after which there will be another betting phase.
Players repeat this process once more, revealing their 2nd card and having a betting phase. After that final betting phase, the final card is flipped up for the Showdown.
Bull Poker is a high-ball game, and as such Players must form the best possible traditional Poker hand from their 7 total cards. The winner takes the whole pot, while ties will split it evenly.
Poker Bull Rules
- Players are dealt 3 face-downs, then 4 face-up cards, and then reveal their face-down cards. This is a complicated process, but it’s these rules that make Bull Poker unique.
- There is a single Joker, which acts as a wildcard in the deck.
- This is highball Poker, following the traditional Card Hierarchy, explained below.
- Players may look at their face-downs, but they have to put them in order before the first face-up card can be dealt and they cannot touch them until allowed by the game’s rules.
|Five-of-a-Kind||5♦ 5♥ 5♠ 5♣ Joker|
|Royal/Straight Flush||10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♦|
|Four-of-a-Kind||4♦ 4♣ 4♥ 4♠ 8♣|
|Full House||3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 2♣ 2♠|
|Flush||2♥ 9♥ 10♥ Q♥ K♥|
|Straight||6♥ 7♣ 8♠ 9♥ 10♦|
|Three-of-a-kind||3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 6♠ 8♣|
|Two-Pair||2♥ 2♣ 6♠ 6♣ 3|
|Pair||5♣ 5♦ 3♥ 6♥ 9♣|
|High-Card||A♦ 2♥ 4♣ 6♦ 7♥|
Strategy & Tips
Remember these tips:
- Players can see your face-ups, but they cannot see your face-downs. Order your face-downs such that the most important card is revealed last. This way, you can bluff and convince an opposing Player to bet more than they would have if they already know they were going to lose.
- If you have a Joker in your face-ups, generally do not bother betting low. Make a high wager and bluff the opponents into folding. The odds of having an extremely strong hand increase significantly when possessing a Joker.
- If you have a weak hand, it might be best to just fold. Sometimes, the best position for a Player to take is giving up. There’s no reason to bet and Play every single hand of a game of Bull Poker. Sometimes the cards just are not in your favor. Accept that.
Imagine the following is your hand at the start of a game of Bull Poker:
Q♥ 4♦ 7♦
Although this initial hand is rather weak, there are at least two diamonds cards in here for a possible flush, and the Queen is a high-ranking card that may form a high-ranking straight or kind. As it is more likely the Queen will form a weaker meld, the above order is sufficient for the order of the face-downs.
Suppose that throughout the game, the following become your face-ups:
9♠ 10♠ 9♦ 5♣
This could be very difficult, as this is essentially a junk hand with only a pair of 9s to hold it together. However, a savvy player knows they can bluff out of this. If a Player bets relatively neutrally during the game, until they receive that second face-up 9, then they may be able to bluff a three-of-a-kind or even a four-of-a-kind. If a Player suddenly starts betting very aggressively after that second 9, the 9♦ is revealed, it might convince other Players to cut their losses and fold.
How many cards is each Player dealt in Poker Bull?
Each Player is dealt 7 cards in total. Three face-downs at the start of the game, and four face-ups periodically.
What is the best hand in Bull Poker?
The best possible hand in Bull Poker, with the addition of the Joker, is the Five of a Kind.
Who wins in Bull Poker?
The winner in Bull Poker is traditionally the Highball, or the Player with the highest ranking hand according to the above chart. However, Players can play “High-Low Bull” in which the Pot is always split between the player with the best above hand, and the worst above hand.