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How to Play Thirty-Two Poker


THIRTY-TWO poker: There are 4 variations of Thirty-Two poker. In all versions each player is dealt 5 hole cards. Players must always use exactly 3 of their hole cards plus exactly 2 of the common board cards to make their hand, hence the name of 32 poker. Each version arranges and uses the board cards a bit differently. Board cards are always revealed one at a time. There is a round of betting after dealing the 5 hole cards and after each board card is revealed. Each version may be played high-low split.

Summary of action
Deal 5 hole cards to each player. Arrange board cards.
Reveal 1 board card.
Reveal 1 board card.
Reveal 1 board card. (Final board card of "L" version.)
Reveal final board card. (Z, Squared, Straight)
High only or Hi-Lo Cards Speak: Showdown
High-Low Declaration: Declare

Playing Tips for 32 Poker


In each version of Thirty-Two poker players must use exactly 2 cards from the board. But, for each variation there are different number of combinations of those 2 board cards that could be used. In "L" there are 2 combinations, "Z" has 3, "Squared" has 4 and "Straight" has 6. As the number of pairs of board cards that are available increase, the average hand needed to win will also rise. For example, 2 pair or trips might be all that is needed to win the "L" version, while a straight or better is typically required to win the "Straight" version.

Since 3 of the hole cards dealt must be used to form your hand it is those cards that will determine you hand's ultimate strength. For example, if you are not dealt a pair or trips, it is impossible for you to get a full house or four of a kind. Likewise, without at least 3 suited cards you can not make a flush. If you think of Thirty-Two as being Omaha in reverse the limitations become apparent. (There can be no full house or quads in Omaha without at least a pair on the board. There can be no flush in Omaha without at least 3 suited cards on the board.) In essence, your 5 hole cards in Thirty-Two are like the 5 board cards in Omaha. The 4 board cards in 32 are like your 4 hole cards in Omaha.

Starting Hand Selection


Your best chance for success in 32-poker is to start with hands that have multiple possibilities for winning. These are the types of cards you want to start with for high and the more of these cards your hand contains the better: trips, 3 straight flush, 3 flush, 3 straight. Being dealt 2 pair is also good, but deceptive. If it is something like AA223 (with or without 3 suited) it would be a fantastic starting hand since it includes the highest possible pair as well as the best starting low. But, something like 6633T is far less attractive. While you increase your chances of getting trips with 2 pair it would be a low ranked 3 of a kind (eg. 333 or 666). You also decrease your chances of turning it into a full house because you only have one unmatched card (eg T) to do so with. Should you not improve your low trips might be a winner in the "L" version, but will probably not be in the "straight" version.

For low hand you will usually need a minimum of 3 cards that are 6 or under. The obvious best is 32A, but any 3 cards of 4-low is an excellent start. You would love to fill in the missing card to make the nut low, but even without it 4-low is a hand that can easily win on its own. Unfortunately, there is also about a 60% chance that one of your 3 low cards will appear on the board most likely ruining your low. For that reason, "protected" low hands are much more desirable. A protected low would be one with 4 or 5 low cards instead of 3. For example 432A vs 32A. With the former hand if a single A, 2 or 3 appears on the board you still have the best low, while your low hand of only 32A is almost assuredly ruined. (Note that if the board also included both a 4 and 5, eg. KQ54A, your 32A has been saved. But, now other hands -532 and 432 - will tie you.)

Some Low Hand Probabilities


Approximate percent probabilities for being dealt the following LOW hands as your 5 hole cards

Low HandPercent Probability
3 Cards of
Any 4-low7.2%
Any 5-low14.4%
Any 6-low24%
4 cards of
Any 5-low1.8%
Any 6-low4.5%
5 Cards of
Any 6-low0.2%

The Common Board Cards


A general concept to keep in mind with 32 poker is that the board will "make" or improve your high hands and "break" your low hands. The most obvious example of this is when you start with 32A and one of those cards also appears on the board. While you started with the best low it's been ruined.
For the high hand, unless you were dealt high trips, you will need the board to improve your hand enough to win.

Additional Considerations


Because each player uses 3 of their hole cards to form their hand it is not possible to determine the best possible high hand based on the board cards. The best high hand could be anything. For example, you are dealt a pair of aces and the board shows an ace and a card that pairs one of your other dealt hole cards. You have a huge full house which is indeed powerful and most likely the winner. But, you cannot be absolutely certain, since anyone who was dealt trips and matched them with just one of the board cards will beat you with 4 of a kind. (While this is a possibility it is a huge longshot.)

On the other hand, the best low hand can always be determined by the board cards. If you hold 32A, you have the nut low as long as no ace, deuce or three appears on the board. Tie hands for low are not uncommon.