Dragon Poker

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Dragon Poker is a fictional card game from the "MythAdventures" series by Robert Asprin, featured primarily in the book Little Myth Marker. The game is an absurdly complex Poker variant, with the same basic rules as stud poker but with different names for the suits and face cards and the added concept of conditional modifiers. A conditional modifier is a modification to the rules based on variables such as the day of the week, the number of players, chair position, which hand of the game it is, etc. As a result the game quickly gets ridiculously complicated.

Asprin has never provided the full rules for Dragon Poker; it is used in the book only as a plot device in a parody of professional gambling, and not as a fully developed game. This has not stopped fans from creating a set of Rules For Dragon Poker.[1]

The deck[edit]

Dragon Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck with the usual four suits: clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. However, the Dragon Poker deck's face cards are Elves, Ogres, Unicorns, and Dragons, corresponding to jacks, queens, kings, and aces, respectively. (Like aces in poker, Dragons can be either the high card or the low card in a straight, but not both.)

The deal[edit]

Dragon Poker is a kind of stud poker. That is, each player plays the cards he gets, with no chance to draw better cards. Unlike most poker variations, the scoring hands are made up of six cards rather than five, and a total of nine cards are dealt to each player. Thus, a total of five players can play for each deck.

The game is played with all cards on the table, with four face-down hole cards and five cards face up. The hole cards are the first three and the last one to each player. (Down - down - down - up - up - up - up - up - down).

Hands[edit]

With six-card hands, the variations of possible hands are far more numerous than in standard poker. Thus, the standard order does not necessarily apply.

The hands, with descriptions, from lowest to highest:

  • High card: Same as in normal poker
  • One Pair: Same as in normal poker
  • Two Pair: Same as in normal poker
  • Three of a Kind: Same as in normal poker
  • Three Pair: Just what it sounds like
  • Full house: Same as in normal poker, a "Three of a Kind" plus a "Pair"
  • Straight: Six cards with consecutive face values, of any suits (see below)
  • Four of a Kind: Same as in normal poker
  • Corps-a-corps: see below
  • Flush: Six cards of the same suit, with any values
  • Full Belly: Two sets of "Three of a Kind"
  • Full Dragon: A "Four of a Kind" plus a "Pair"
  • Straight Flush: Six cards of the same suit, with consecutive face values

A few hands require some explanation:

Normal hands — One and two pairs, three of a kind, full house, and four of a kind are exactly the same as in five-card poker, with an extra, "don't care" card. Flushes, straights, and straight flushes are similar to their counterparts, but that the sixth card must fit with the same rule as the other five.

Added hands — Three pairs is as it would seem: three pairs of cards put together. A full belly is two sets of threes of a kind, and a full dragon is a four of a kind plus a pair.

  • Note: The position for straights is out of order in regards to the list given in Little Myth Marker. This is because the number of possible straights is higher than that of flushes and fours of a kind.

The Corps-a-Corps hand — The "corps-a-corps" hand was given no official definition in the book Little Myth Marker, but it has been given an unofficial definition by fans.[citation needed] The unofficial "corps-a-corps" hand is a "Three Pair" in which the three pairs are also two three-card flushes. An example would be the 2, 7, and ogre of hearts, along with the 2, 7, and ogre of spades.

Betting[edit]

Dragon Poker has six rounds of betting: once after each round of up cards is dealt (the fourth through eighth), plus a final betting round before everyone shows their hole cards. As in traditional poker, the person who starts each round is the one with the best hand "showing", that is, from just all the face-up cards.

Conditional modifiers[edit]

What makes Dragon Poker so intriguing (and confusing) is the concept of conditional modifiers. These are a standard set of rules that, depending on the day, weather, number of people playing, and other factors, determines what cards are wild, what cards are "dead" (unusable), and other subtle changes in how the game is played.

In the books, the rules delineating conditional modifiers vary as well, depending on the dimension where the game is being played. It is not known if there exists a set or rules for modifiers that applies to Earth's dimension, nor, if they exist, what they are.

If a player makes a mistake in his interpretation of the current hand's conditional modifiers, so that he undervalues his own hand, the opponent is not required to point out the error (although he is not forbidden from doing so, either).

A few of the modifiers mentioned in Little Myth Marker:

  • Red dragons are wild on even-numbered hands.
  • Once a night, a player can change the suit of one of his cards.
  • Every five hands, the sequence of cards is reversed, so the low cards are high and vice versa.
  • Once a four-of-a-kind is played, that card value is dead and treated as a blank card.
  • If there's a ten showing in the first two face-up cards in each hand, then sevens will be dead (Unless there is a second ten showing, then it cancels the first).
  • If the first card turned face up in a round is an Ogre, the round will be played with an extra hole card, four face up and five face down.

Odds (natural deck)[edit]

 Hand               Combinations      Odds (6 of 6)
 All                    20358520      1.00000000 
 High card               4203876      0.20649222 
 One Pair                9884160      0.48550484 
 Two Pair                4942080      0.24275242 
 Three of a Kind          732160      0.03596332 
 Three Pair               360360      0.01770070 
 Full House               164736      0.00809175 
 Straight (6)              36828      0.00180897 
 Four of a Kind            13728      0.00067431 
 Three Matched Pair        10296      0.00050573 
 Flush (6)                  6828      0.00033539 
 Full Belly (3+3)           2496      0.00012260 
 Full Dragon (4+2)           936      0.00004598 
 Straight Flush (6)           36      0.00000177

Dragon Poker Hands (4-Jokers deck)[edit]

Here "N" means "natural" (that is, without any wild cards), and "W" means "using at least one wild card".

 Hand         Combinations      Odds (6 of 6)
 All              32468436      1.0000000
 High/Pair (W)     4817536      0.1483759
 One Pair (N)      9884160      0.3044236
 Two Pair (N Only) 4942080      0.1522118
 Three of a Kind   5125120      0.1578493
 Three Pair(N Only) 370656      0.0114130
 Full house        1153152      0.0355160
 Straight (6)      4231116      0.1303147
 Four of a Kind     947232      0.0291739
 Flush (6)          902196      0.0277868
 Full Belly (N Only)  2496      0.0000768
 Full Dragon (4+2)   49608      0.0015278
 Five of a Kind      34944      0.0010762
 Straight Flush (N/W) 7560      0.0002328
 Six of a Kind         364      0.0000112
 Straight Flush (N)     36      0.0000011

Notes: --At least 1 Wild ==> 13,915,044 (43%) --exactly 1 Wild ==> 10,395,840 (32%)


Notice that certain hands (2 pair, 3 pair, full belly) will be natural-only hands, because wild cards can make better hands. (For example, two pair using a wild card is no longer two pair, but three of a kind.) This effect boosts the probabilities of some high-scoring hands, such as straights, at the expense of lower-scoring hands.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Example rulesets published include Bob Galley's and Card Games Online

See also[edit]

External links[edit]