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Stand Alone: “Hurt Me” – A Match-the-Pot Poker Variant

December 22, 2016

Some of us have been playing Prominence Poker when we are too tired to play anything else. It has been a lot of fun, actually, and I was thinking how much a game like Sea of Thieves would benefit from some card/dice mini-games, especially if they included betting. Unfortunately, one of the most popular versions of poker, Texas Hold-em, which is the game of choice for PP, is an awful variant of the game, in my opinion. There are far too many cards exposed, and people can see the conclusion long before the betting has ended. Remembering the fun I have had playing cards with Mark, I asked him if he would write up the rules to “Hurt Me”, by far the best form of poker I have ever played. With a few edits, here is his reply:

Match-the-Pot card games like Guts and its variants are akin to poker, but use fewer cards, may be won with low hands, and in other small details diverge from it.

Adapting some of its features to poker is, however, straightforward, and results in a game that appeals by adding weight to observation, bluff, and participation by all players and not just those with the deepest or freest pockets.

This variety of poker seems not to be well known, but when played by a group of Bates College students in the 1980s was called “Hurt Me” (2 to 7 players).

A dealer is chosen by whatever method is agreeable. The dealer announces the ante, and those choosing to join the game place that amount in the middle of the table to form the pot for the first hand. After a customary cut by the player on his right, the dealer deals five cards to each active player. The dealer then asks each player in turn, starting at his left, whether he will stay or fold. Each player who chooses to stay receives two more cards. (Indicating intention to stay with the phrase “Hurt me” gave this poker variety its name.) Once all players, concluding with the dealer, have chosen whether to stay or fold, each of those who have stayed reveals the best five-card hand from among his seven cards. The winner of the hand takes the pot. Each loser – that is, each player who stayed and lost – matches the pot. (For example, if four players stay in a hand, one wins and three lose; each loser matches the current pot, meaning it triples in value for the next hand.) The deal then passes to the next player to the left and the next hand is dealt.

The game ends when only one player chooses to stay in a particular hand, since there is no loser to replenish the pot for another.

The deal, and decision of the ante for the next game, passes to the player to the left of the one who started the previous game.

A further variant is called Bates Motel. It is the same in all respects to Hurt Me, except the procedure for choosing whether to stay or fold. All players hold their five-card hands face down over the table, and when the dealer calls, “One, two, three, drop!”, those who wish to fold drop their cards, and those who are still holding theirs are determined to stay.

In summary, it is a match-the-pot variant in which no cards are exposed.  “Betting” is as described above.


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