Poker Game Rules


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5½ 25½


5½ 25½ is a high low split game where the person closes to 5½ splits the pot with the person closest to 25½.


The game can be played with 3 or more players. When you get past 7 players, you should use a two decks of cards or you are likely to run out of cards on the deal.

Object of the Game

To accumulate the total point value closed to the stated low value (5½) or the stated high value (25½). In this game (unlike Blackjack), it does not matter whether you go over or stay under the value, all that matters is that you are the closest.

Value of the cards

Each card has the following point value:
  • 2-10 - face value of the card (e.g. 2 is worth 2 points, 9 is worth 9 points).
  • J-K - ½ point.
  • A - 1 or 11 points.
For example
  • a hand with a 5 and a J would be worth 5½ points.
  • a hand with a 2, 3, J and K would be worth 6 points.

Deal & Play

Each player is dealt two cards: one card face down followed by one card face up. They players may look at their down card. A round of betting takes place.

For each subsequent round, each player (starting at the dealer's left) is offered a chance to take a card. If the player does not take a card they must place a chip in front of their cards to indicate that they have passed. Once all players have been given a chance to take or pass, including the dealer, a round of betting takes place.

Once a player has amassed a total of 3 chips (meaning they have passed 3 times) they are locked and can no longer accept cards in any subsequent round of the game.

Once all players have locked, the dealing is over and one last bet takes place (even if no cards were accepted in the previous round).


The betting rotates, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise for each round.

Bets are made following the completion of each round of dealing after the dealer has dealt her own card.


After everyone has locked, the players follow the declaration model (using chips) as described in high low split.


Of the players who declared low, the one with the total point value of their cards that is closest to 5½ takes half of the pot.

Of the players who declared high, the one with the total point value of their cards that is closed to 25½ takes the other half of the pot;

If a player declars both and is able to win both the low and the high groups, she takes the entire pot.


When two players are the same distance away (remember you don't loose if you go over) from the key value, the tie is broken by the following rules (in order):
  • low beats high - If some players are below the key value and others are above the key value, the low value wins. So when going for 5½, 5 beats 6 even though both are ½ a point away from the key value (similarly, 25 beats 26).
  • more beats less - If multiple players have the exact same value, the player with the most cards wins. So 5½ with 2 cards (say a 5 and a J) will loose to a hand with 3 cards (2, 3 and a J) even though both are exactly 5½. This also applies to two people with 5 or 23 or any other value.
  • otherwise it's a tie - If more than one player has the exact same winning value and they have the exact same number of cards, they split that half of the pot evenly (although if the player was going for both, the tie counts as a loss and the would lose both).


There are many variations to this game, some of which are listed below

  1. The amounts that are needed to win can be varied (for example: 7-27 or 7½-27½ or 6-26, etc.). We have found that it is usually best when the difference in the low and high values is 20 points (having tried 10 and 30 points as well).
  2. Deal the cards as normal, but red (or black) cards count as zero (0) points (e.g. they don't count). You need a lot of cards to use this variation. For example, if black cards were being counted as zero, a hand containing "5heart, 7spade, Jclub, and Kspade" would total only 5 points.

    As you can imagine, this can sometimes lead to a very long, expensive (lots of betting) game.

  3. Change the tie braking rules of "low beats high" to be "innies beats outies". So, 6 beats 5, but 25 beats 26 (on the low key value, the high beats low, but on the high key value, low beats high).

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