I like RPS and I like poker. This game combines elements of both and could work well.
(Long description follows, beware!)
RPS Poker Rules
Each player has a number of chips representing rock, paper and scissors. These can be made by sticking labels on to normal poker chips.
Throws could also be represented by cards with clubs = rock, diamonds = scissors, spades = paper. Or players could simply write their throws on slips of paper. If using chips or cards, each player needs nine each of rock, paper, and scissors.
- Play begins by the dealer selecting a sequence of three throws and putting the corresponding chips face down in front of him, left to right. Each player then does the same.
- The dealer now turns over his sequence. (This is called 'the gambit'.) There is a first round of betting. Normal holdem betting rules apply (small and big blinds, limit or pot limit or no limit bets) except that the blinds are on the right of the dealer (i.e. the order goes small blind, big blind, dealer), and the player to the left of the dealer bets first and the dealer bets last.
- The dealer now chooses a fourth throw. The remaining players then do likewise. The dealer turns his over ('the flop'), and there is another round of betting.
- In the next round ('the turn'), two more throws are chosen (dealer first again). The dealer reveals his and the players bet.
- In the last round ('the river'), three more throws are chosen (dealer first again). The dealer reveals his and the players bet.
After the river has been shown and the last round of betting completed, the remaining players turn over their throws. The winner is the player with the best points difference versus the dealer. If there is a tie, the player with more wins against the dealer wins (so 6-3 beats 5-2, for example). If the hands still tie, players play a best-of-three RPS match to determine who wins the pot. (If more than two players tie, they play a group RPS match, one-winner style, and the first player to win two points wins the pot.)
If the dealer is still in at the showdown, he scores 0-0 against himself (since he draws each throw). However, the dealer wins against other players who tie with him. That is, players have to beat the dealer to win the pot, if the dealer is in at the showdown.
If any player's throw is accidentally revealed before the dealer's throw has been revealed, the player may change his throw. If the throw is revealed after the dealer's throw has been revealed, the throw cannot be changed. If the dealer's throw is revealed before all players have placed their throws, he must change his throw.
Aside from the above rules, normal poker rules apply where relevant. Any disputes that cannot be settled by reference to the above rules are to be decided by RPS.
Odds of holding each starting hand (after the gambit is revealed) by rank:
3-0 - 1 in 27
2-0 - 3 in 27
2-1 - 3 in 27
1-0 - 3 in 27
1-1 - 6 in 27
0-0 - 1 in 27
1-2 - 3 in 27
0-1 - 3 in 27
0-2 - 3 in 27
0-3 - 1 in 27
Odds of improving/worsening hand by the flop and turn, and on the river:
+3 or -3 = 1 in 27
+2 or -2 = 3 in 27
+1 or -1 = 6 in 27
No change = 7 in 27
- RPS Poker contains the same key strategic element as Texas Holdem: the importance of positioning. You need a better hand to open the betting in early position compared to when several players have already folded. Players in late position can try to steal the blinds. It's possible to bluff or semi-bluff by 'betting your position'.
- A lot of wise Texas Holdem advice will apply to RPS Poker too, such as 'if you get the goods, bet the goods' and 'go big or go home'.
- Observing your opponents' betting patterns and behaviour for clues as to how strong their hands are is as important in this game as it is in poker. Who only opens the betting with +2 or better? Who bluffs when the dealer reveals a three-of-a-kind gambit?
RPS Poker also has extra strategic elements that differ from Texas Holdem:
- Skill: Certain players might be better at reading particular players, leading them to bet more when those players are dealing, or when they think they know what the dealer will throw next based on the pattern so far.
- Gamesmanship: Players can try to influence what the dealer will throw through subtle or not-so-subtle remarks and questions, just like a normal game of RPS. Equally, the dealer can try to throw the other players off track.
- Dealer strategy: Dealers are in a unique position in this game. Having to reveal their throws could work in their favour or against them, depending on their RPS skills. The big disadvantage to the dealer is that they can only score 0-0, meaning they can't bluff their opponents. On the other hand, they have a slight advantage in that they win iif they tie, and a significant advantage in that they bet last in the gambit round without having to put in a blind. Dealers will mostly be wise to fold in the gambit round, especially in the face of a raise, or when several players have called, but may be tempted to take on an opponent or two if they think they can spring a surprise on them at the river, or if they suspect their opponent is bluffing. In later rounds, when they will be first to bet if the blinds have folded, they will almost always be wise to check.
One practical issue: using chips or cards to represent throws might cause problems two ways - first, an unscrupulous player could try to switch the order of his throws according to what the dealer reveals. Second, people might find it confusing to match their throws against the dealer's if they don't know their left from their right. Using four slips of paper (for gambit, flop, turn, and river) could be best. Slips could be printed in advance with 'Gambit', 'Flop', 'Turn' and 'River' written on one side, to eliminate confusion and cheating.