Culture: Game: Rock Paper Scissors
RPS Poker   (+3)  [vote for, against]
Many poker players also like to play rock-paper-scissors. Now they can play both!

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.
-- imaginality, Jan 31 2007

Poker strategy from an RPS perspective http://blogcentral....cissors_theory.html
This blog muses that chips, cards, and position are the poker equivalent of rock, paper and scissors. [imaginality, Jan 31 2007]

Interesting. You'd need a large deck of cards as card counting with RPS cards would be (a) easy and (b) very advantageous.
-- hippo, Jan 31 2007

If each player has at least nine of each throw, that would be plenty - since players choose which throws to select rather than randomly drawing them, card counting doesn't matter. (Admittedly, players would need to not make it obvious they're searching their remaining cards for the last of their rocks if they've already used six before the river.)

The slips of paper approach is the easiest way to run it, but since this is RPS Poker, it would be kinda nice to use cards just for the symbolism of it. Who plays poker with paper?
-- imaginality, Jan 31 2007

I’m trusting that this is good so + but - too lazy to read something so long and complex - give me a piece of paper, a brick and a pair of scissors any day.
-- xenzag, Jan 31 2007

The thing I like about poker that I miss here are dependencies across multiple cards - hands like flushes or straights that you wait for, that have high pay-off because they beat someone with a more conventional hand, but that you might not "make". The various rounds of rock, paper, scissors seem to be mutually independent - so if someone is doing well, they won't suddenly "not make their hand". Or am I overlooking something?
-- jutta, Feb 01 2007

[jutta], I tried to build the possibility of things 'turning around suddenly' into this game - I agree it's a key aspect of poker's playability.

My method is the way the numbers of throws increase in each round after you've received your 'starting hand' in the gambit round. With one throw on the flop, two on the turn, and three on the river, players who think they're behind at the start might be tempted to stay in, hoping to make a good hand by or on the river (or hoping their opponents' hands worsen).

For example, if a player is 2 points ahead of you after the turn, you still have a 10% chance of overtaking him and winning on the river, either by your hand improving or his worsening or both. That's equivalent to having about 5 outs in poker. You even have the equivalent of 2 outs at a 4-point improvement on the river.

Of course, no-one is likely to play complete junk in this game, like staying in with R,R,R when P,P,P is revealed in the gambit round. But hey, that might even help weak players to realise that playing junk hands like 7-2o in normal poker is just as pointless!

The big difference between how things turn around in this game compared to Holdem is that the possibilities are less visible here. Four hearts on the table in Holdem makes your straight look a little risky all of a sudden, but four Papers on the table here doesn't give so much away (unless you know that Bob on your left is a big fan of Scissors). This might be a weakness of this game, but it's not so much different from the situation in five-card-stud, where you can only see one of everyone's cards. This game might be best thought of as a nine-card-stud game with no up cards. :-)
-- imaginality, Feb 01 2007

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