In popular belief, the term poker conjures up images of stone Texas Holdem players engaging in high-stakes tournaments. But while this no-limit variant is certainly the most famous in the world, dozens of different poker games have been developed over several centuries.
Your grandparents likely traded a few dollars back and forth between friends during the weekly seven-card stud games, while college kids today prefer the action-packed Pot Limit Omaha.
Poker is truly the most eclectic branch of the gambling pedigree, so it has even inspired several successful table games. But for any three card poker and Caribbean stud, you can find a fair share of clunkers like the poker table game mistakes listed below.
1 – Tequila Poker
Tequila Poker was released in 2005 at the height of the “poker boom” and was conceived by designers from Delaware-based Alma Gaming LLC. The game made its debut at Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, and while Tequila Poker was never successful in live casinos, it was added to the Playtech iGaming software suite a year later.
The underlying concept of Tequila Poker is quite frankly one of the most interesting I have come across while reporting on the casino industry.
The game essentially positions the traditional five-card draw next to a blackjack hybrid in parallel lanes that approach a fork in the road – before the player is asked which direction to turn.
How It Works … To begin a hand of Tequila Poker the player must make a mandatory bet before being dealt four face-down hole cards. A standard 52 card deck is in play, but as you will see, these cards can have different values depending on the player's preference.
With your starting hand of four cards – we'll say you received the Jh-10h-Ah-Ace for demonstration – the fun really begins.
The dealer will then ask which secondary bet you would like to place, the Tequila Poker bet or the High Tequila bet. You can only choose one and the bet size must match your ante.
As the name suggests, the Tequila Poker bet uses a standard five card poker hierarchy to determine your payout. Royal flushes pay 200 to 1, straight flushes are good to 50 to 1, four of a kind pays 15 to 1, a full house pays 8 to 1, a flush pays 7 to 1, a straight pays 5 to 1, three of one Type 3 to 1, two pairs 2 to 1 and one pair (aces) even pay money.
With your Jh-10h-Ah-Ace in the hole, you have already completed an even cash payout with the pair of Aces. And after you make the Tequila Poker bet, you draw not just one but two extra cards to try to improve on – a likely bet on your pair, three card flush draw, three card straight draw, and three Draw cards royal flush.
On the flip side, you may prefer the High Tequila bet which uses blackjack scoring to create your own paytable. With the usual blackjack point system, your Jack-10-Ace-Ace is worth 42 points, with two cards of 10 values and two cards of 11 values being blocked.
You need at least 46 points to win even money on the high tequila bet. Check out the payouts below:
- 49 points – 2 to 1
- 50 points – 3 to 1
- 51 points – 4 to 1
- 52 points – 7 to 1
- 53 points – 15 to 1
- 54 points – 200 to 1
As you can see, the worm at the Tequila Poker table can spin pretty quickly … The strategic implications in such a game are enormous. Just look at the sample hand possible scenarios to see what I mean.
The Jh-10h-Ah-As gives you a longshot chance of hitting that royal flush payout for 200 to 1 at Tequila Poker. You can also hit a full house for 8 to 1, a flush for 7 to 1, a straight for 5 to 1, three of a kind for 3 to 1, or two pairs for 2 to 1.
On the high tequila side, you still have two aces in the deck to move from 42 to 53 points and score 15 to 1, while any 10 value card gives you 52 points for a 7 to 1 win.
Of course, you could swing and miss overall by hitting a 2 or 3, leaving you with a worthless 44 or 45.
For such an intriguing and potentially high paying game, tequila poker has never quite caught on with casual gamblers. A high house edge of 4.21% probably has something to do with the game's lack of popularity.
You can still see Tequila Poker floating around on dark Playtech iGaming platforms, but the glass ran dry on the live arena over a decade ago.
2 – Pyramid Poker
To understand the doomed Pyramid Poker concept, you must first learn about one of the most popular table games played today, Pai Gow Poker.
Players are dealt seven cards before "putting" them into two hands, a high hand of five cards and a low hand of two cards. Both hands are then compared to the dealer's double arrangement and the player wins only if both hands are best.
Poker pro Tom Franklin conjured up Pyramid Poker with a single adaptation of the Pai Gow Poker framework. Instead of using seven cards to place your two hands, Pyramid Poker only sends three cards in the player's path.
From there, you can simply zoom in on the three-card board before betting a two-card high hand and a one-card low hand. The only requirement for these hands is that the high hand is superior to the low hand. Suits and straight guys aren't relevant to this game, so it's a simple couple and / or high card affair.
Take a three-card deal like A-Q-8, for example. This is where you could put the A-Q together as a likely high hand winner, but this 8 is not a favorite to win the low hand. The better game would be to use A-8 in high and Q in low. Now you have an ace high to work with on one side and the second best low hand with a queen.
The dealer must follow the house way with his hand, a holdover from Pai Gow Poker, so he must use the middle card as the low in any unpaired hand. With something like A-7-3, you'd end up with a slightly worse A-3 on the high and a pipped 7 on the low – which sends you both halves of the pot.
Pyramid Poker was approved for live play in Washington State, but no casino has ever taken Franklin's bait. That resulted in a short run in the online arena, but the players again decided to bury Pyramid Poker once and for all.
3 – Criss Cross Poker
If you've ever played the popular Mississippi Poker table game, you will learn Criss Cross Poker pretty quickly.
Game designer Ronald Laduca adapted Mississippi Poker in which players take two hole cards and hope to make strong hands by combining them with three community cards to create Criss Cross Poker.
Laduca may have gotten a little too creative as the unusual two-pronged betting approach combined with a bizarre community board setup ultimately doomed the game.
Criss Cross Poker players place two bets, the cross bet and the down bet. After taking two hole cards, the player watches as the dealer puts out five cards:
Next, the player uses his two hole cards in conjunction with the three horizontally aligned cards to form the cross hand and the three vertically aligned cards to form the down hand.
Both hands are settled against an escalating paytable, but those payouts are nowhere near enough to endure the headache known as criss cross poker.
4 – Lunar Poker
TCS John Huxley started Lunar Poker in 2009 and the game flopped instantly.
With esoteric gameplay elements like the Super Bet – and its payouts for strange hands like five face cards and five cards of the same suit – Lunar Poker wasn't poker as most players knew it was.
And in the base game, options like "Buy" and "Swap" are similarly alien.
Lunar Poker was an example of an overly ambitious venture trying to reach the stars by bundling too many little things into a single product.
5 – Q Poker
This game is nothing more than three-card poker for players who do not know how to play three-card poker.
In a Q Poker hand, everything takes place identically to three-card poker with one caveat – you don't choose between folding or playing, but between surrender and standing.
Q Poker had a higher house edge than its superior predecessor and was destined to disappoint.
The multi-dimensional format and variety of variations of poker make it a perfect vehicle for table game customization. In fact, three-card poker, casino holdems, pai gow poker, and Caribbean studs have become certified staples on most casino floors in the world.
Nonetheless, not every hand can win a winner, and the five poker-based table games shown above provide sufficient evidence.
The next time you see a strange new table game that uses poker as its foundation, play a couple of hands to try it all out. Because, as these busts make clear, you may never get the chance again.