Learn the Structure of Guts Poker Games

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Guts poker is not a concrete game, but a scheme that is applicable to various poker games. Almost any game can be played in guts format and be called guts poker.

The main principle of guts poker is declaring In or Our and replacing the pot by In players who lose. The declaration stage normally comes after the initial dealing. Players who call Out fold their cards and do not participate in this certain game. Players who call In, continue playing in accordance with the game rules. The In player with the best hand wins the pot, while other players who called In but did not win place an amount equal to the pot collected by the winner to the new pot. In such way, if there are more than two In players, the pot is multiplied for the next game. The very first pot is composed of antes placed by all players. Some guts poker games also require to re-ante in the beginning of each new game, and not only the first one. In such manner, the pot keeps growing even if only two players call In.

If at a certain stage only one player calls In, he collects the pot, and, as far as there is no one else to replace the pot, the game starts from the beginning with all players anteing and collecting a new initial pot.

Even if the size of the ante is very small, guts poker stakes keep growing all the time, sometimes in very fast pace. So, after a couple of games calling In may result very expensive, even if it did not seem so in the beginning.


Unless all players at a guts poker table are multimillionaires, it is advisable to set a reasonable limit to let everyone participate in the game at any of its stages. Such limits are called caps. Actually, caps do not limit the pot, but limit the amount each player can lose or win. So, if the pot exceeds the cap, the winner only takes an amount equal to the cap limit, and losing players place the same amount into the pot. Such structure helps people not to lose their shirt, but makes the game longer and more complicated. This is particularly notable when only one player calls in and the pot is larger than the cap limit. If there was no cap, the game would end at this stage, but as far as the winner can not collect any amount above the cap, the game continues with the remaining pot. As far as players never risk more than the cap amount, they would go In more frequently, and it is quite possible that the game will continue for many hours without finishing the pot. For this reason, when playing Guts poker with caps, it is advisable to set the cap high enough to finish the pot sooner or later.


Guts poker can also be played with kitty. Kitty is an additional hand that belongs to the pot. Such hand must contain the same number of cards as the players at the table. These cards are dealt face-down in the beginning of the game and turned up at the showdown. Kitty acts as a players hand and must be beaten to win the pot. If kitty beats all hands at the table, all players lose, and all In players match the pot. With kitty, guts poker stakes grow even faster, but the main advantage of kitty is that it reduces the dealers advantage. If all players called Out and there was no kitty, the dealer would win automatically. With kitty he must beat the kitty hand to win the pot.

Coin Declare

In a standard Guts poker game, players call In or Out one after another in the clockwise direction starting from the dealers left. Such sequence is common for poker games, but has its disadvantage. The player to the left to the dealer always declares first without knowing the other players decisions, while last players in the sequence, and above all the dealer himself have an advantage of basing their decisions on the turns of other players. This can be solved by shifting the turns order one position in each new game, but there is a better solution called Coin Declare: Each player takes a coin or a chip and hides his hands under the table, then all players raise one closed hand above the table, keeping another one under the table, and open hands simultaneously. The players, who hold a coin in the hand they raised, declare in. Those who put coin in the hand under the table and open an empty hand declare out. This way all players declare In or Out simultaneously and eliminate the dealers advantage.

Best Hand Pays

Best Hand Pays is an extra feature applicable to Guts poker games with kitty or with coin declare and with re-anteing in the beginning of each game. If all players in such game declare Out, they all reveal their cards, and the player with the best hand pays antes for all players at the table in the next game. It serves as a punishment for the player who declared Out having the best hand.

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