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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.
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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).
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A few of the modifiers mentioned in Little Myth Marker:
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- 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)
Dragon Poker Hands (4-Jokers deck)
Here 'N' means 'natural' (that is, without any wild cards), and 'W' means 'using at least one wild card'.
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.
- ^See example rulesets published include Bob Galley's and Card Games Online: https://sites.google.com/site/rulesofdragonpoker/home