Rules of
the Igloo

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These are the rules we use in our games in order to keep the fistfights to a minimum. A lot of people ask about pigging, which is an attempt to win both halves of a split pot game. I wrote a special section below to clear up any pigging confusion. Let me know what you think!

 

Getting Going

  • $20 buy in. We use chips representing nickels, quarters, and dollars.
  • Choose a seat, it's yours for the whole night. Unlike some games, we don't let people move around, except in the case of a fistfight. A big fistfight.
  • Someone grabs the cards and shuffles them. He or she then deals each player a card. First player to get a jack is the first dealer. Dealing rotates to the left.
  • The player to the right of the first dealer of the night will be the last dealer of the night.
  • Dealer's choice. You can call whatever you want. But we reserve the right to groan and bellyache so that you won't call that game ever again. You'll find that we can be really convincing.

Betting

  • Ante = $0.10 per player. Our dealer antes for the full table, so with six players, the dealer starts the pot with $0.60 just before dealing.
  • Minimum bet is $0.05, maximum is $0.50. However, the maximum bet increases to $1.00 during
    • the final betting round; and
    • the betting round immediately preceding the declare, if any.
  • Check and raise is permitted.
  • If no one opens the first betting round, we do not throw our cards in for a redeal. However, the dealer may make this a feature of the game if the dealer clearly specifies such a change at the beginning. For instance, this rule is often changed for draw games.
  • Maximum of three raises per betting round, with the opener not considered a raise. Therefore, you may have to put in as much as $2.00 in an early round and $4.00 during the final round.
  • A player may buy additional chips from anyone at any time. We don't sell additional chips from the bank.
  • If a player runs out of chips during a hand and is unwilling to buy additional chips from another player, the player may remain until showdown while the other players contribute their subsequent chips to a side pot. The player who ran out chips continues to receive cards and can win the main pot but cannot win anything in the side pot.

Showdown

  • Rank of hands, from high to low:
    • Five of a kind (only possible if wildcards are used)
    • Straight flush
    • Four of a kind
    • Full house
    • Flush
    • Straight
    • Three of a kind
    • Two pair
    • Pair
    • High card
  • A tie is a tie. We don't break it by referring to the number of wildcards used or by the value of some other card in each players' possession.
  • Cards speak for themselves. If a player has the best cards showing at the showdown, they win, even if they were confused and mistakenly claimed to have something else.
  • Players surviving to the showdown need not show their hands, but they should, given the generosity of the cards speak rule.
  • In games where the low hole card is wild, the player may choose whether to treat a hole ace as high or low.
  • A-2-3-4-5 is the weakest straight possible, just weaker that 2-3-4-5-6.
  • At any point before the showdown, the players involved in the pot may split the pot amongst themselves as they see fit. If anyone player still involved in the pot objects, the game continues to the showdown.

Low Hands

  • The best low hand is A-2-3-4-5 and is called a wheel. The second best is A-2-3-4-6.
  • Ignore all straight and flush issues when evaluating a low hand.
  • A pair of aces is lower than a pair of deuces.

High-Low Split

  • Some games allow one player to win half the pot for having the best high hand and another player to win the other half of the pot for having the best low hand. These are called high-low games.
  • After what would normally be the final betting round were the game merely straight high or straight low, each player declares which half of the pot the player seeks. To do this, players each take two chips below the table (denomination does not matter). Players now bring one fist over the table and simultaneously reveal the number of chips in the fist. Show
    • Zero chips to win the low half of the pot;
    • One chip to win the high half of the pot; or
    • Two chips to win both halves of the pot (known as "pigging").
  • One final betting round occurs after the declare. If one lucky player is the only one who declared for a particular half of the pot, that player is called the "lock" and gets to start the betting round, typically by betting the maximum. Otherwise, one of the players going for the high half (including a pigger, if any) begins the betting.
  • If after the declare only two players remain, neither pigged, and they are not contesting a half of the pot, the hand is over and the two simply split the pot.
  • An ace is one higher that a king in high hands and one lower than a deuce in low hands. Note, however, that because aces "swing" in this way, A-2-3-4-5 is a straight for purposes of a high hand and a wheel for purposes of a low hand.
  • If there is an uneven amount of money in the full pot making it impossible to equally split it in half, the extra amount goes to the player who won the high half.
  • If there is an uneven amount of money one half of the pot that must be split between two or more players, the extra amount is returned to the center of the table and will be won during the next game.

Pigging

  • Some people just aren't happy winning just one of two halves of a split pot. Such a greedy person can win the whole pot if they have the best hand for each half.
  • This gets pretty complicated. Essentially, we punish piggers who tie or lose to someone else by denying the pigger any claim to the pot. If a pigger ties a non-pigger for one side of a hand, the non-pigger wins that half. The other half goes to the best player (other than the pigger) who sought the other half. The pigger wins nothing.
  • If two piggers tie either side, neither wins anything. Note that if the two piggers tie either side and there is no one else in the showdown, the pot remains to the next round.
  • If a pigger has more than five cards at the showdown, the pigger can use one set of five for the high half and a different set of five for the low half.
  • I find that this rule is best understood using examples. Assume that the game is five card stud and the hole card is the one in parentheses.
  • Pigger wins it all:
    • Marmaduke has K-K-Q-Q-(Q) and declares high.
    • Fred Basset has A-2-3-4-(6) of different suits and declares low.
    • Farley has A-2-3-4-(5) of clubs and declares high-low.
    • Farley gets the entire pot because his straight flush beats Marmaduke's full house for the high half and Farley's wheel beats Fred's 6-4 for the low half.
  • Pigger ties, loses all (one opponent):
    • Drabble has A-2-3-4-(5) of different suits and declares low.
    • Ratbert has A-2-3-4-(5) of clubs and declares high-low.
    • Drabble gets the entire pot because Ratbert declared high-low and Ratbert's bid for the low half of the pot, a wheel, tied with Drabble's wheel. Ratbert gets nothing.
  • Pigger ties, loses all (two opponents):
    • Hagar has K-K-Q-Q-(2) and declares high.
    • Linus has A-2-3-4-(6) of different suits and declares low.
    • Daisy has A-2-3-4-(6) of clubs and declares high-low.
    • Linus gets the low half of the pot because pigger Daisy tied Linus's low. Hagar gets the high half of the pot, even though he was beaten by Daisy, because Daisy tied for low. Daisy gets nothing.
  • Conservative players beat pigger, share the pot:
    • High has K-K-Q-Q-(Q) and declares high.
    • Lois has A-2-3-4-(6) of different suits and declares low.
    • Chip has A-2-3-4-(5) of different suits and declares high-low.
    • High gets the high half of the pot because his full house beats Chip's straight. Lois gets the low half of the pot, even though Chip's wheel beats her 6-4 low, because Chip declared high-low and his straight lost to High's full house. Chip gets nothing.
  • Conservative player wins pot as piggers beat each other:
    • Calvin has 2-3-4-5-(A) of different suits and declares high-low.
    • Hobbes has A-2-3-4-(7) of spades and declares high-low.
    • Snoopy has 2-3-4-6-(A) of hearts and declares high.
    • Calvin gets nothing because his bid for the high half of the pot, a straight, loses to another player's bid for the high half of the pot. In fact, Calvin's straight is lower than the hands of two others interested in the high half, as both Hobbes and Snoopy have flushes.
    • Hobbes gets nothing because his bid for the low half of the pot, a 7-4, is beaten by Calvin's wheel, and Calvin bid for the lower half of the pot.
    • Snoopy gets the entire pot because the other two players declared high-low and neither won beat their competition for both halves outright.
    • Note that if Snoopy had not made it to the showdown, the pot would remain and be played for as part of the next game.
    • Note that while some authorities would divide the pot in thirds because no player won in full accordance with his or her declaration, our game does not follow this variant.

Cashing Out

  • After the last hand has been played, each of us counts our chips. Each of us places the amount over the last dollar into the center of the pot. One player acts as the dealer, shuffles the cards, and deals five cards face up to everyone who put money in the center. High hand wins all the money in the pot. This exercise of pure luck is sometimes played as a game, typically called Straight Poker or Cold Hands.
  • Done properly, this should result in no one needing any change from the bank.
  • We cash out beginning from the person with the fewest chips. That way, if the bank is short, it is most likely to hurt the big winner the most.