What is Indian Poker?
Indian Poker is a comparing card game, technically in the poker family though it is a wide detraction from many of its sister games.
In fact, the only thing making Indian Poker a “poker” game at all is its betting system. It is also known as “Blind Man’s Bluff” or “Oklahoma Forehead”.
How to Play Indian Poker?
Indian Poker is played using the standard 52-card Anglo-American deck pattern. Jokers should not be used. At the start of the game, a Dealer should be determined by whatever means the table chooses.
Deal and Preparation
Once a Dealer has been chosen, they will shuffle the deck and deal one card to each player, face-down. Players may not see their own card. They must instead carefully lift the card, such that they cannot see it.
Alternatively, players may place the card that they were dealt on the forehead of the person to their immediate right, to be sure that they never see their own card.
Once players have stuck their cards to their foreheads, the betting phase may begin.
Players may follow any of the traditional betting positions in poker, the Check, Fold, Bet/Call, and Raise.
Players that fold may take their card off of their forehead, and do not have to put any money into the pot, but they forfeit their right to win the pot as well.
If there is no outstanding bet, players may check in order to “check” what the other players at the table will do.
A Check is essentially a bet of 0. If another player bets though, that player must then at least call the highest ongoing wager.
Players may call, or “match” the previously highest bet. In order to be eligible to win the pot, players must at least call the previously highest bet.
When a player is betting before any other player, this is known simply as a “Bet.”
Players may also Raise, if they feel confident in their own card, such as when the other cards at the table are all very low. A Raise is an increase upon the previously highest bet, rather than a match. This means that all other players will be forced to bet again, to either match your bet, raise it, or fold.
After this single betting phase, the Showdown begins.
Players will take the cards off of their foreheads, and compare them to every other card at the table. The player with the highest ranking card will win the whole pot.
Hand rankings from low to high:
Aces are always high in Indian Poker. If there are two players with the same ranking card, then they split the pot.
Indian Poker’s official rules do not account for suit (♥♦♣♠) though there are some variations that rank the suits, so that when players tie in rank, the suit determines the tie-breaker, and the pot is not split.
The cards are shuffled, and the game can continue into a new hand.
The essential rules are summarized below:
- Players are not allowed to look at their own cards.
- Players may follow any of the four normal betting positions, Folding, Checking, Betting, and Raising.
- The Showdown is the only point when players may see their own cards.
- The traditional rules of Indian Poker do not account for the suit, but variations do.
- Indian Poker may also be played as a drinking game, skipping the betting phase with the winning player abstaining while all other players are forced to drink.
Imagine the following cards are visible to you on the foreheads of your friends during a game of Indian Poker:
- Player 1: 3♠
- Player 2: 4♦
- Player 3: 3♥
- Player 4: 8♣
- Player 5: 5♦
These are all fairly low-ranking cards, with the exception of the 8. The odds of having a card lower or equal to Players 1, 2, 3, and 5 are actually quite low. There are only four 2s in the deck, three 4s, and two 3s. As such, the odds of having a card higher than them is greater than the odds of losing to them.
Furthermore, because of these missing cards, the odds of having a hard higher or matching the 8 are actually about the same as having a card lower than the 8. This means that there is roughly a 50% chance of winning this game.
50% are excellent odds in a game of Indian Poker. As such, when playing for money, a player that sees the following cards around the table should consider betting very highly, and perhaps even raising if other players seem confident in their own cards.
Strategy & Tips
Below are some strategic tips for Indian Poker that might help you secure the win:
- Try to force players to fold by being aggressive and betting the majority of your hands.
- Improve your bluffing abilities by communicating with others through voice and body language.
- Observe your opponents’ facial expressions and body language to try and decipher the value of their card. Watch out for signs coming from rivals, such as nervousness, smiles, or excitement.
- Focus on your own poker face as well so other players can’t get a read on you.
- If a player with a Queen or higher calls, you should slow down your betting and wait to see what your opponent does before adding additional money to the pot.
Why is it called Indian Poker?
The name is derived from the method of sticking the card to one’s forehead. In American popular culture, there is the common conception of American Indians binding a single feather to their temple as an ornamental accessory. The cards sticking to the player’s foreheads are reminiscent of these headdresses.
How do you win in Indian Poker?
The player with the highest ranking card attached to their forehead during the Showdown is the winner.
How many cards is everyone dealt?
Everybody in Indian Poker is only dealt a single card, making it one of the easiest “poker” games that a person can play. This makes Indian Poker an excellent game for teaching someone the basics of betting in a regular poker game.
With how many players can you play Indian Poker?
In theory, the game could be played with up to 52 people. However, such a game would be unwieldy. A game of Indian Poker would probably be best with anywhere from 3-12 people, after which the game becomes somewhat hard to keep track of, and ties become much more likely.