Poker is a truly iconic card game.  There is much debate as to the official origin of poker, but the reality is that playing card games have been around for a very long time.  Poker specifically is remarkable because the whole premise of the game revolves around betting.  People don’t get together to play poker without bringing their chips and cash along.  It’s what makes it so fun! The World Series of Poker would never make it to television if there wasn’t a huge pot of cash being played for.  So now that we have officially ruled poker and it’s traditional varieties as a definite betting game, what about Indian poker?

Indian Poker (also known as Blind Man’s Bluff or Oklahoma Forehead) is a hilarious card game that is traditionally played at parties.  It works great with any number of people but 6-10 players are ideal.  The reason this game works so well for parties is because the rules are pretty simple so anyone can catch on quickly and quite simply it’s really fun.  So let’s start with the rules.

  • A dealer is selected and one card is dealt to each player.
  • The players do not look at the card in their hand but rather place the card face out on their forehead.
  • Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player determines, based on the other players cards, if the will fold or continue to play.
  • When each player has made their choice, cards are revealed and the victor is determined by highest card.

Now that we have learned the basic functions of playing Indian Poker, we will dig into the question at hand.  Is Indian poker better played as a betting game or a drinking game?  There is no doubt that on any random college campus on any random Friday night, you will find a game of Indian Poker going strong.  Now, typically college kids are not heavy with disposable income, and if they do have some money lying around it’s going to be spent on beer.  So at this random game of Indian Poker, odds are good that beer will be present.  Put the two together and you have an awesome drinking game.  Let’s now revisit the rules of play, because drinking games do not end with just one winner.  There are drinking rules of course!

  • Now that each person has revealed their cards, the drinking requirements must be explained.
  • The player with the highest card does not drink.
  • Any player that folded and has a card lower that the winning high card must take two drinks.
  • Any player that folded and has a card higher than the winning high card must drink the value of their card.
  • Any player that stayed in the game but had a card lower than the winning high card must drink the difference in value between their card and the winning high card.

Clearly, there can be some strategy utilized when playing Indian Poker as a drinking game.  The seemingly obvious first thought would be to get out if you’re losing repeatedly.  No reason to keep trying because it can only get worse once you’re wasted. But seriously, working on your poker face and mastering your opponent’s body language can definitely give you an advantage as the games go on.

So now that we have looked at Indian Poker as a drinking game, how does it look as a betting game?  I mean sure you can enjoy a beer as you play, but I’m talking about changing the rules such that betting is the focus.  Using betting as the premise for Indian Poker definitely makes the game feel more like an actual poker type game.  Let’s look at the rules using betting as the focus.

  • Each player must put up and ante (like $1) to play.
  • Once the cards have been dealt and each player has placed them on their respective foreheads, the player to the left of the dealer starts the betting.
  • Each player has the option to place a bet or fold depending on their interpretation of the cards in play.
  • Once each player has made their choice, cards are displayed.
  • The player with the highest card (Aces are traditionally high) wins the pot.

That’s Indian Poker with two options for play in a nutshell.  I guess the purpose of the article was to determine which style of play is superior; however, I guess I’m going to have to leave it at personal preference.  I myself have enjoyed playing this card game both ways.  The hilarious, goofy fun of playing Indian Poker as a drinking game is memories in the making – unless you go a little too long and then remembering could be an issue.  The intensity that can develop by playing with real money is also fun and invigorating.  Indian Poker is simply a great game that everyone should have in their arsenal of fun activities.

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