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How to Play Bummer Poker


BUMMER POKER: Deal 5 hole cards to each player. Place 2 cards face down on the table. Board cards are exposed one at a time after rounds of betting. The second board card (and any like ranked cards) is wild. Use any 5 of the 7 available cards to make your hand. May be played high-low split.

This game has a requirement that no checking is allowed. It is mandatory that you MUST either bet, call a bet, raise a bet or fold. The mandatory bets can be fixed (ie. the same bet amount on each round) or may be progressive. In progressive betting the required bet increases on each round. (eg. 1st round = $1, 2nd round = $2, 3rd = $3, 4th = $4).

Summary of action
Deal 5 hole cards to each player.
Place 2 cards face down on table.
Reveal 1st card (not wild*).
Reveal 2nd card (wild).
High only or Hi-Lo Cards Speak: Showdown
High-Low Declaration: Declare

* Plays as a wild card if it is the same rank as the wild card.

Playing Tips for Bummer Poker


As in most wild card poker games, especially those using a wild card common to all hands, the winning hand for Bummer poker usually must be excellent. For high, expect a high 4 of a kind to be the minimum needed to win. Although sometimes even low quads or a full house may win if there are few players in the hand and no raising. For low, the nuts or second best hand, with much depending on the board cards. Low board cards also make a tie for the low more likely.

Additionally, since there is no checking and you must either bet, call, raise or fold, Bummer poker is not a game to be chasing. A solid starting hand is mandatory. If you do not have one you should fold immediately.

Starting Hand Selection


Starting hands for Bummer poker fall into 2 broad categories based upon the 5 hole cards you are originally dealt: Made hands and drawing hands. Either takes into account the fact that you add the wild card.
Made hands are starting hands that have a chance of winning on their own and include:
4 of a kind. You have a guaranteed 5 of a kind and are an overwhelming favorite.
4 to a straight flush (including one-gapper). You have a guaranteed straight flush.
3 of a kind. You have a guaranteed 4 of a kind and a draw to 5 of a kind. The higher the trips you start with the better. A final hand of 4 aces or kings may stand up while a low or medium 4 of a kind may not.
2 big pairs. Guarantees you a full house and a draw to 4 of a kind. This is the least of what can be considered made hands. Be especially wary with middle or low pairs. A full house is often not enough to win unless there are only a few players and/or no one is showing strength by raising.
4 card straight and flushes are also made hands, but neither is going to be a winner. Unless they have low hand potential they should not be played.
For low, any 4 unmatched cards of 5 or less gives you the nut low (playing by 5432A rules) or any 6-low (except if it includes a 5) playing 6432A rules.

Drawing hands are those that need help. To become a winner each of these starting hands is going to need additional improvement beyond just one wild card. You are going to have to hit the single non-wild card perfectly or match the wild card with the right hole card, both of which are low probability events.
3 to a straight flush, including up to a 2-gapper. You'd much prefer the 3 cards to be consecutive as there are then 4 cards that make your hand. You have only 3 good cards with a 1 gap and just 2 good cards with a 2 gap.
A single big pair. Draw to 4 of a kind.
3 unmatched cards of 5 or less. Draw to the nut low.
With drawing hands such as these you are hoping to catch a card to help as the first non-wild card. For example, if you held KK52A you would be hoping for a king, 4 or 3. If you did not catch those cards you would have another chance to match the wild card to one of your hole cards. Note that in this example if you matched any of your hole cards it would help you. But, if you held a hand like KQ52A catching a king or queen as the wild card would help you by giving you 5432A for low. If the wild card were a five or deuce you'd have an ace high straight. If an ace you'd have 3 kings. Either a 5, deuce or ace give you no better than queen-low.

When playing Bummer poker as the progressive betting version the drawing hands become somewhat more attractive. You have the opportunity to see the board cards at the lower betting limits. If you should catch your hand you will be able to make up for the poor drawing odds as the betting limits increase.

The Common Board Cards


The second exposed board car is wild as well as the other 3 like-ranked cards. And, since the exposed wild card is common to all players, while this means that you have at least one wild card for your hand it also means that all the other active players do as well. You must not think of this game as having just 4 wild cards. You need to think of it as having one wild card for each active player plus 3 additional wild cards. If there are 5 players remaining in the hand that is as if there were a total of 8 wild cards. Should the other board card match the wild card there it would be a total of 12 wild cards. Obviously, the more active players and the more wild cards the better the hand you will need to win.

Hitting the Right Wild Card


If you match the rank of the wild card with 1 or more of your hole cards, those cards become wild as well. But, it is important to note that even when you do this you do not necessarily end up with a winning hand. Here are 2 examples of when the wild card helps you a lot, helps you a little and when it does not help you at all. In each we assume the single non-wild card provides no benefit to your hand.

You hold 9832A. The wild card is 9. For high you have a straight (5432A) which is a loser. For low you have the best low which is a clear winner. The wild card helped you.
You hold 9832A. The wild card is 3. For high you have 3 aces. For low you have an 8-low. Neither of those hands stand a chance of winning. The wild card was of no benefit to you.

In this example the wild card helps both hands, but the differences are enormous.
You hold AA662. The wild card is 2. For high you have 4 aces. You will probably win the high hand half of the pot. You have no playable low hand (6632A).
You hold AA662. The wild card is 6. You have both the best possible high (5 aces) and the best possible low (5432A). Only another player's miracle hand will prevent you from winning the entire pot.

Low Hand Probabilities


Approximate chances for being dealt the following LOW hands as your 5 hole cards.

Low HandPercent ProbabilityOdds Probability
3 Cards of
Any 4-low7.2%13:1
Any 5-low14.4%6:1
Any 6-low24%3:1
4 cards of
Any 5-low1.8%54:1
Any 6-low4.5%21:1
5 Cards of
Any 6-low0.2%500:1