Joker – One of two extra cards included with a standard fifty-two card deck, only used in certain games.
A standard poker deck includes fifty-two cards plus two jokers. In most casino poker games, the jokers are not used and do not play,
but in certain games, they may be inserted and used as wild cards, or semi-wild cards. If you play casino poker, the joker is
typically only used in certain types of lowball
games, and a few other types of draw games. In these games, the joker is commonly referred to as the “bug.”
In a Lowball game, when a joker is used it is wild. It is an extremely valuable card to hold, because there is typically only one in
play, and it can substitute for any card. Since it can substitute for any card, it will automatically be considered as the card which
most helps the player’s hand, hence its status as a wild card. In a Lowball game, the object is to make the lowest possible hand, and
therefore the card that the joker will substitute for is the lowest card that adds
value to the player’s hand.
In other types of draw games, the joker is semi-wild. In these games, it may only be considered as an
ace, or be used as the missing card to complete either
a straight or a flush. In these games, if a player is unable to use the bug to complete either a straight or a flush, and does not
have another ace to pair it with, it will simply be read as ace high at the conclusion of the hand.
In casino games where the joker is used, there is a substantial amount of strategic play surrounding it. This is because when one
holds the joker, especially from the point of the initial deal, they often have a sizeable advantage. The joker is very versatile,
which adds to its value. Whether it is wild or semi-wild, it can be used in several different ways to help a player’s hand. As the
hand develops, it can even change from one value to another. Because it is so powerful, players will tend to aggressively bet starting
hands which contain a joker.
Just as the player who hold the joker realizes its value, players who do not hold it realize that they may be at a disadvantage to the
player who does hold it, and they tend to proceed with caution. They are keenly aware that when they do not hold the joker, it is
highly likely that someone else does.
In addition to being used in casino draw games, jokers are also widely used in home games as wild cards. Many players prefer to
introduce the jokers as wild cards as opposed to using cards from the existing standard deck. For one thing, this allows for the
introduction of wild cards without fundamentally altering the standard composition of the deck. Rather than converting an existing
card or group of cards into wild cards, the jokers may be inserted and considered as wild. Since there are two jokers included in the
deck, this is a good way to put up to two wild cards in play. Each wild card inserted will have a notable impact on play, as each will
lead to stronger hands being made on average. If more than two wild cards are desired, additional cards from the deck may also be
named and considered as wild cards.
If you are playing at home, the joker may also be used to replace missing or damaged cards from the deck, in order to make the deck
whole again. For example, if one of the standard fifty-two cards is missing or damaged, a joker can be inserted in its place and be
considered as that card. Since there are two jokers included in a standard deck, this will work to replace up to two missing or
damaged cards. The two jokers are typically two different colors, or have some sort of features which distinguish them from each
other. If you are going to use multiple jokers to replace multiple missing or damaged cards, it is important that you remember which
joker represents which card. If the jokers are not differentiated, you can differentiate them by making a distinguishing mark on the
face of one or both of the jokers prior to putting them into play.
Usage: Drew The Joker, Dealt The Joker, Joker’s Wild
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