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How to Play Tic-Tac-Toe Poker


TIC-TAC-TOE Poker: Deal each player 4 hole cards. Place 9 cards face down on the board arranged as 3 rows of 3 cards each, like a tic-tac-toe board. Reveal 3 random cards per betting round. Players must use exactly 2 hole cards plus all 3 cards from either: 1 of the 3 horizontal rows, or 1 of the 3 vertical rows, or 1 of the 2 diagonal rows. May be played high-low split.

Summary of action
Deal 4 hole cards to each player. Arrange board cards.
Reveal any 3 cards
Reveal any 3 cards
Reveal last 3 cards.
High only or Hi-Lo Cards Speak: Showdown
High-Low Declaration: Declare

Starting Hand Selection


As with most high-low split games you want to have been dealt a hand that gives multiple possibilities of winning so combining elements of good starting low and high hands gives you the best shot. For high having one or two high pair is a decent start. (In 4 cards you will be dealt 2 pair about 3% of the time and a single pair about 30%) You have a small possibility of getting a full house, but most of the time trips is the best you'll get so the higher your pair(s) the better. Several connected cards will be helpful for straights and a straight is often the best possible hand. Flushes require that all 3 cards of one side be suited and that does not occur often. Thus suited cards, though better than unsuited, are only marginally more valuable. Trips in your hand are worthless since you can only use 2 of your hole cards.

For low 2A is the best start. 3A or 32 gives you a one card draw to the nuts and either is absolutely playable. Unfortunately, when you have only 2 low cards in your hand there is a pretty good possibility that one of them will appear on the board. That does not always counterfeit your low as there are other cards that could come to save you. But, there is a very high chance it will. For that reason a protected low like 32A or 42A is a far better hand. Whenever you hold one of these low hands with an ace you'd prefer the ace to be suited to one of your other cards.

Some Low Hand Probabilities


Approximate chances of these LOW hands being dealt to you as your 4 hole cards.

4 Card HandPercent ProbabilityOdds Probability
A3XX or 23XX14.4%6:1
Any 4-low (3 cards)3.6%27:1
Any 5-low (3 cards)7.2%13:1
Any 5-low (4 cards)0.36%277:1
Any 6-low (4 cards)0.9%110:1

The Board Cards


There are 8 separate combinations of board cards that may be used so Tic-Tac-Toe can get complicated compared to some other games. You must be aware of all the board cards in order to help in assessing the likely winning hands. A pair must appear in one of the 8 rows in order for a full house or quads to be possible. And, with 9 cards and 8 playable combinations of cards that is a good possibility. A set of trips in a single row is a 424:1 long shot, but, if it occurs a full house is a near certainty and quads a distinct possibility. A full line of board cards with all 3 cards suited is fairly common, though it occurs less frequently than a pair appears. If a flush is possible you will probably need the nut or second best flush to win. Board cards with straight possibilities are common, though they will not be winners with any regularity. Hands of trips or less are nearly hopeless.