Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker

Wild About Wild Card Games

Poker on television is serious business, but when you play at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to have some fun with your friends. Playing with wild cards might be just the thing to liven up your games.

While you won’t see any wild card games on television, that doesn’t mean they aren’t lots of fun to play. They are, but like in any form of poker, there are winning strategies too. So have fun while raking in some pots.

Wild cards add more of the luck element to the game of poker, so the strength of your starting hands must be even better. In most wild card games, you don’t want to leave the gate without holding one.
Here’s a short list of wild card games that are commonly played.


Follow the Queen

It’s a seven-card stud game where all queens are wild. Also, any card that comes immediately after the queen is wild. For example, if player A is dealt a queen face-up, then player B’s next card automatically becomes wild. In other words, he can make it any card he wants. So, if he catches a seven, then all sevens are wild for all players.

However, if another queen hits the board at any time, sevens are no longer wild; the next card dealt will be the new wild card (along with queens). This element of change is what makes the game so exciting.
A queen in the hole is a huge advantage. Having a hidden pair can also make for a powerful hand if that pair becomes wild on a later street. As a rule, if you don’t have at least one wild card by fifth street, dump your hand.

Kings and Little Ones

In this game, all kings are wild as is the lowest card that you have in the hole. It’s a seven-card stud game, so you’ll end up with three down cards and four up cards. The lowest card you have in the hole will be wild for you alone.

If you have two or more of that card, all of them are wild and, not surprisingly, you have a powerful hand. You also have the opportunity to have your last card dealt face up, but you must pay a penalty for that privilege. 

Why would you do that?

Well, suppose you have (7-7) K-A-7-4. Here on sixth street, you hold five aces — the best hand you can get in wild card poker. However, if you gamble and take your last card down, and it’s a six or lower, it will wipe out your three wild sevens. So, if you caught a deuce face down, you’d now have five sevens.

Forget about a full house winning in this game. In fact, even four of a kind is a relatively weak hand.

You absolutely must start with at least two potential wild cards to have a shot at winning: either a king(s) or a low pair. In fact, any pair you start with can be wild, provided that your other down card isn’t lower than that pair. (7-8) 7 gives you two wild cards, but with (7-8) 8, you only have one wild card.

Always pay the penalty and take your last card face up if you have a pair of little ones. Otherwise, you can safely take the last card down.

Pregnant Threes

There are lots of wild cards in this form of seven-card stud, but you don’t need a monster hand to win. In this game, threes are always wild. Sixes are wild only if you have a three in your hand. And if you have both a three and a six in your hand, then nines also become wild!

The three is the key power card here, not the six or the nine. If you start with, say, (9-9) 2, you’d have to catch both a three and a six to make the nines wild.

Any hand starting with two threes, or a three and a six, are powerhouses. But even if you’re dealt a single three card along with a couple of high cards, stick around to see the next few cards.

Don’t get suckered into playing hands like 9-6-2 that leave you praying for the lucky three. Instead, look to start with a three and build a hand with a guaranteed wild card.

Wild card games are just the ticket to lighten up your home game. They keep you thinking and add lots of outrageous finishes.



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