Irish Poker is a comparing game in the Poker family. It is considered to be a hybrid card game of Omaha and Texas Hold’em, with some rules from both games combined.
The name Irish Poker derives not from its birthplace, as this game actually comes from the United States. Instead, its name comes from a stereotype about Irish culture, that every social event includes some form of drinking alcohol.
For this reason, Irish Poker can also be played as a drinking game, the rules for which will be explained in the appropriate section below.
How to Play Irish Poker?
The rules for playing Irish Poker are actually very simple if you are familiar with the rules of Texas Hold’em, and Omaha Hold’em. The game essentially combines the rulesets of both games, meaning if you understand those two you will understand Irish.
Irish Poker is played using the standard, Anglo-American 52-card deck pattern. Any decks with Jokers should have the Jokers removed. The Dealer and Blinds are chosen as in a normal game of Texas Hold’em, randomly.
Once the Dealer is selected and Players have the appropriate Small and Big Blind buttons in front of them, each Player will then be dealt four cards face-down, which they can look at after they have been dealt.
Players should not show their cards to other Players. During this Pre-Flop period, after all Players have either matched the highest outstanding bet, or have folded, Players will be forced to discard two of their four hole-cards in the hand.
Flop, Turn, and River
Once these two cards have been folded, the Dealer can then deal the Flop. Gameplay continues normally according to the rules of Texas Hold’em, with Players able to Check, Fold, or Bet/Call/Raise during after the Flop, Turn, and River have been dealt out.
As Players are following the rules of Texas Hold’em following the Pre-Flop phase of the game, the Showdown follows the rules of Texas Hold’em as well. The Player with the highest ranking hand, according to the traditional Poker hierarchy of cards, will win the whole pot. In the event of a split pot, players will evenly distribute the pot.
Below you can find the the regular Irish Poker rules:
- The game begins as an Omaha game, where Players are dealt four cards at the start of the game. After the Pre-Flop, player must discard two of their cards, and then the game is played as a normal game of Texas Hold’em.
- Irish Poker does not play Pot Limit unless otherwise specified, even though it is a version of Omaha. This means Players are welcome to go All-in, or otherwise bet unrestricted.
- There are 5 phases of the game: The Pre-Flop, Flop, Turn, River, And Showdown. There is a betting phase at the end of each phase, except for the Showdown.
Like in Pineapple Poker, the best starting hands in Irish Poker are actually not hands composed of all the components you need for a strong meld. This is because two of the cards in your hand will always be discarded.
If you start the game with a hand of four components of a Royal Flush, for example (10, J, Q, K), this is actually a disadvantage. Since Poker is traditionally only played with a single deck, this means there will be no other copies of the card in the deck.
By discarding those cards, it becomes impossible to form the meld. As such, the best starting hand in Irish Poker is one that provides options. Such as two different Pairs, or two cards that form a pair and two cards that form a possible straight/flush.
Like in all games of Poker, psychology is a major component of the Irish Poker card game. Since a Player’s cards are hidden, it is possible to convince other Players that you have a very strong hand, even if you do not, by betting large sums of money.
“Condition” your opponents by betting highly on strong hands for several rounds. Eventually, your opponents will believe you when you bet highly, and then you can perform a “bluff.”
Since the opponents believe that when you bet highly, you have a strong hand, by betting very highly or going all in, even if you have poor cards, Players may be scared enough to fold as they trust you have a hand that will beat theirs. This is a risky move, but one of the foundations of Poker.
Irish Poker Drinking Game
Irish Poker’s drinking game is substantially different from the non-drinking version presented above. Traditionally, drinking games should be played with Beer, or weakly mixed cocktails such as liquor and soda, as Players will be expected to drink numerous times throughout the course of the game.
Remember, drink responsibly, and always remember to mix in a serving of water for each equivalent serving of alcohol in order to avoid dehydration and hang-over.
Setup and Deal
Irish Poker as a drinking game can be played with 3-6 Players. Two People generally do not play a drinking game together, though it is possible if desired.
A Dealer should be chosen randomly, after which point they will shuffle the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck, and deal out four cards to every Player face-down. Once each Player has been dealt their hole-cards, the Dealer then deal two rows of four cards into the center of the table. These cards will also be dealt face-down.
Once all of the cards have been dealt, Players will take turns making guesses about the four cards in front of them. Players will assign one guess to one card, with the guess made and chosen card determined by the round being Played. Each Round has different guesses, and different values associated with them.
Irish Poker as a drinking game is scored by “Gives” and “Takes”. Gives are essentially a tally of sips that a Player forces another to take of their drink. For example, Player 1 makes their guess in round 1. They are correct, and so they Give two sips to Player 3. This means Player 3 must take two sips of their own drink. However, if Player 1 guesses wrong, then they must “take” two sips of their own drink.
Each round is explained below:
In Round 1, Players are attempting to guess the color of their first card in the row of personal hole cards. Each Player will take turns, starting with the Player to the immediate right of the Dealer.
Players make their guess, either Black or Red, and then turn over the first card from the left in their row. Players immediately assign their takes and gives the moment their choice is revealed.
Players that were wrong take their drinks right there, and Players that were right give their drinks, which must be drunk by the chosen Player immediately.
Guesses in Round 1 are worth 2 gives or takes.
In Round 2, Players are guessing whether the face value of their second card is higher, or lower, than the value of the first card in their row. Now that it has been revealed, Players can use the value of that first card to make their guess. For example, say the first card in the row was an 8♦. It is more likely to be lower than 8 than higher, and as such the better guess would be lower.
Guesses in Round 2 are worth 4 gives or takes.
In Round 3, Players are making a guess on whether the 3rd card in their row is between the previous two cards, or not.
For example, if the first card in the row was a 2, and the second card was a 9, then any 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, or 9 would be valid as “in-between.”
Players can alternatively guess “outside”, in which the card is not between those two values. For example, if it is a 2 and 9, then a 10 or an Ace would be “outside.”
Guesses in Round 3 are worth 6 gives or takes.
In Round 4, Players are making a guess on the suit of the final card in their row. Players declare their chosen suit, either “Clubs”, “Diamonds”, “Spades”, or “Hearts.” Players then turn over their final card and see if they were correct.
Guesses in Round 4 are worth 8 Gives or Takes.
Although not required, most people Player Irish Poker with an additional final round using the two public rows of cards.
The Dealer will turn over each of the four cards in the top row. Any Players that have a card that matches the rank of those cards in their own personal row, will give according to the card. A match with the first card in the row is 2 gives, the 2nd card is 4 gives, and so on.
This process repeats with the bottom row, only matched drinks will be Takes, instead of Gives.
- Even though the game is mostly random, as it is only played with a single deck of cards it is possible to “count cards” to some degree. For example, when playing Round 4, you can look at all the other cards that have been turned up so far. If there is one suit that is largely represented amongst the visible cards, then it would be wise to guess any other suit.
- As stated above, be sure to drink plenty of water when playing a drinking game. The point of a drinking game is to imbibe a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, but this can be dangerous. Always be sure to keep yourself safe, rather than obsessing with winning the game. Drop out of the game if you feel you will get too drunk.
If you’re a fan of this game then the Strip Poker Game might also be something for you.