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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal me in

9 March 2007

Dear Mark: In any poker game, are additional cards like a kicker ever used after your five cards are ranked? For instance, two players share four cards on the board, and one of cards in their two-card hand is the same, both creating identical straights. If player A has an ace as his other down card, and player B has a queen, do you know of any instance where the ace of player A would be used to settle a tie? Do suits ever settle a tie? Are there any games that use additional cards? Jerry C.

The standard answer is no. All 5-card poker hands consist of just five cards. When additional cards are available, such as in Hold'em, players combine individually dealt cards with a number of "community cards" that are dealt face up and shared by all players. Each player then attempts to compose the best five-card poker hand using the community cards and the player's own face-down cards. After a player decides on a five-card subset, it is then compared to the five-card hands of the other players and ranked according to the rules of the game. The remaining cards are of no consequence in determining the winner.

So, Jerry, that additional ace in Player A's pocket would only come into play if he or she could use it for a Broadway, which is an ace-high straight (TJQKA) odd suit. Suits wouldn't settle like hands because they typically have no value, unless they are used to determine whether a hand fits a certain category, specifically a flush or straight flush.

One game that does come to mind that offers the use of more than five cards is pai gow or double-handed poker. The object of pai gow poker is for a player to create two poker hands out of the seven cards in his hand: a five-card poker hand and a two-card poker hand. Played with a single 52-card deck and a lone joker, the game uses typical hand rankings, and the five-card hand must rank higher than the two-card hand.

Dear Mark: Possibly you can help me with this question. Years ago I heard somewhere of a game called Spit poker. I don't remember where I first learned of it, or any of its rules. Any ideas? I would like to add it to our weekly poker game. Sam J.

Inferring, Sam, that we're on the same page, it's not Spit, but Spit in the Ocean poker, and it more or less goes like this. Spit in the Ocean is a community-draw game where each player is dealt four cards and one additional is flipped from the top of the deck. This card is known as the "spit" card and is the fifth card for everyone's hand, a community card.

Another variation is that each player is dealt four down cards one at a time, unless the player on dealer's right yells "spit," then a center community card is immediately dealt face up. The community "spit" card and all other non-community cards of the same ranking then become wild cards.

Your source, Sam, conceivably could have been singer Ray Stevens, who references Spit in the Ocean in a song called Shriner's Convention.

"Matters of grave concern were weighed with dedicated caution

Like whether or not to raise at stud or draw or spit in the ocean."

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
"I know logically, that the only way to truly win at video poker is to always consider all the factors, and to always play as close to perfect on the right machines as you can. In short, you have to work at winning. I just don't want to work when I'm in a casino, I want to play." --Melissa Cook (Strictly Slots)

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.