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Poker Wild Cards

by Jesse Knight
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Wild Card
Wild Card -A card that can be played as any other card to help you make your hand.


A wild card is a card which, when received, may be used to represent any card of the player’s choosing. Obviously, players will want to choose a representative card which results in the best outcome for their hand. Many poker games actually require that a player play their best possible five card combination. If this is the case, the player will not need to declare the value of the wild card. In this situation, the wild card must be used to represent the card which results in the highest ranking hand for that player, and it will be read as such by default. For example, if deuces are wild, and a player holds A♥ K♥ Q♥ 2♣ T♥, the deuce would have to replace the jack of hearts, giving the player a royal flush.

Wild cards are commonly used during home games and in other informal poker settings. They can be added to standard poker games to spice them up, or used in the more exotic games typical of many home games. The purpose of wild cards is to make it easier for the players to form hands, and to generally increase the action. While their use in home games is common, they are rarely, if ever, used in casino poker. They simply alter game play too much, and lead to too much confusion and distraction to be used in a casino. Casinos just aren’t that flexible when it comes to rules and regulations regarding game play.

There are some poker games common to casino card rooms which utilize one or both jokers as semi-wild cards. Lowball and Draw poker are examples of these type of casino poker games. Most commonly, one, or on occasion both jokers will be shuffled into a standard fifty-two card deck, to make a fifty-three or fifty-four card deck. In these games, the jokers are considered semi-wild. In draw poker they can only be used either as Aces, or to complete a straight or flush. This means that if the joker cannot ultimately be used to complete a straight or a flush, it must be considered as an ace, and cannot be used to replace any other card. If the game is Lowball, the Joker may only be used as the best possible low card missing from the hand. For example, if a player held 6-5-Jkr-2-A, the joker would be read as a 3, giving the player a 6-5-3-2-A. Obviously, in these games it is a huge advantage to be dealt the joker, which is commonly referred to as “the bug.”

When wild cards are used at home games, they are often used without conditions or restrictions. Players may even make five of a kind with their wild card(s), a hand which is impossible to make without the availability of wild cards. Five of a kind is the highest ranked five card hand possible, and it beats any straight flush. If you are hosting a home game, you should consider the impact of adding wild cards to the mix before you do so. Wild cards are useful for getting the action going in a tight game. When wild cards are introduced, they increase the strength of the average hand shown down This is because when a player holds a wild card, they must now only make a four card hand rather than a five card hand, as the wild card will replace the fifth card. Obviously, the more wild cards that are put in play, the more average hand strength will increase. So you have to be willing to adjust your play based upon the number of wild cards available to both you and your opponents. For example, two pair can be a medium strong hand in a game without wild cards, but if multiple wild cards are in play, it will hardly ever win. You need to consider this before deciding what type of hand you will be willing to commit to.

Wild cards are typically chosen and announced before the start of the deal. Sometimes an entire rank of cards, or more, is chosen. If less than four cards are chosen to be wild, they are often identified by a distinctive feature. For example, one-eyed jacks (J♥, J♠), suicide king (K♥), or the man with the axe (K♦) may be chosen. Jokers may also be used as wild cards and can be shuffled into the deck for that purpose. Remember, wild cards are useful for creating action in a dead game. This is because they greatly increase the propensity of players to make very strong hands. If there is a lot of action without introducing wild cards, it may not be necessary to do so. If too many wild cards are introduced, it can corrupt the natural play of the game.

Usage: Jokers Wild, Drew The Wild Card, Deuces Wild

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