Beyond the River Card: Unconventional Poker Games from Around the World

River Card

Poker is more than just a game of Texas Hold’em and Omaha; it is a diverse world of card games that vary significantly across different cultures and regions. This article explores some of the most unconventional poker games from around the globe, offering a glimpse into how different cultures have adopted and adapted the basic principles of poker to create unique versions that reflect local traditions and gaming preferences.

Soko (Canadian Stud or Scandinavian Stud)

Originating in Scandinavia and gaining popularity in Canada, Soko is a variant of five-card stud poker. What sets Soko apart are the additional hand rankings such as four-card flushes and four-card straights, known as “Canadian Straights.” These additional hands introduce new strategic elements and decision-making opportunities, making Soko a fascinating variation for those looking to explore beyond traditional poker games.

Telesina (Italian Poker)

Telesina, often referred to as Italian Poker, is similar to the popular five-card stud but uses a stripped deck—typically ranging from 32 to 36 cards depending on the number of players. The game also features a community card that all players can use, adding a communal feel to the otherwise individualistic nature of stud poker. Telesina’s unique deck and community card introduce an exciting twist, creating a dynamic game environment that is both challenging and engaging.

Badugi (Korean Poker)

Badugi is a unique draw poker variant from Korea that differs significantly from traditional poker games. In Badugi, the goal is to create a lowball hand with four cards of different suits and no pairs. Players have three opportunities to draw and exchange their cards, aiming for the lowest unmatched hand with no consecutive values. The unusual hand rankings and the strategy of drawing make Badugi a standout game that is both fun and mentally stimulating.

Manila (Philippine Poker)

Popular in the Australian and Asian poker circuit, Manila (or Seven-Up Poker) uses a 32-card deck, removing all cards below the rank of seven. Each player is dealt two private cards, and five community cards are placed face down. The community cards are revealed one at a time with a round of betting following each. The reduced deck changes the odds and strategies significantly, making it a favorite among players who enjoy a faster-paced, more aggressive game.

Pineapple Poker

Pineapple poker starts similarly to Texas Hold’em but with a crucial twist: each player receives three hole cards instead of two. Players must discard one of the three hole cards before the flop. This game variant can be found in two formats: Crazy Pineapple, where the discard happens after the betting round post-flop, and Lazy Pineapple (or Tahoe), where the discard occurs after the river is dealt. The extra card adds potential for creating stronger hands and introduces more complexity into the strategic mix.

Courchevel (Five-Card Omaha)

A variant of Omaha, Courchevel is particularly popular in parts of Europe. Players are dealt five hole cards, but the first flop card is revealed before the first round of betting. This pre-reveal can dramatically influence betting strategies and the dynamics of the game. Courchevel is often played as a high-low split game, adding another layer of depth to decisions.


A form of stud poker, Razz is focused on making the lowest possible hand. It’s an inversion of traditional ‘high’ games, with the worst hand (in traditional games) becoming the best possible hand in Razz. This creates a completely different dynamic, as players root for cards that are typically undesirable in almost all other forms of poker.

These unconventional poker games demonstrate the rich diversity within the poker world. Each game reflects different aspects of cultural ingenuity, proving that poker is not just a standard casino game but a global phenomenon that can adapt to different environments and preferences. Whether you’re a seasoned poker player or a curious novice, exploring these games can offer new challenges and refresh your appreciation for the complexity and joy of poker.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bluffing Monkey Support


Hi there How can i help you?

Scroll to Top