Note: My review is based on a pre-production sample copy which may be subject to change before final copies are shipped.
You begin a game of Dual Bet Poker Plus by giving each player a felt Game Board which is placed in front of them and an equal quantity of poker chips. The chips in Dual Bet Poker Plus are not numbered, so it is up to you as a group to assign values to each of the available colors.
The card deck (minus the two jokers and bonus Poker Hand reminder card) is shuffled and placed to the side of the table along with stacks of Pass Chips and Fold Chips. A minimum bet is established by agreement between all the players, and the game is then ready to begin.
The dealer begins by dealing one card face down to each player which is then placed in the leftmost Face Down Card space on their game board. All players look at their first card and decide whether to place a Card Bet on it.
For each of the five cards the players are assigned during a round of Dual Bet Poker Plus, each player must decide whether or not they think that card is higher than all the other cards in the same position on the other players’ game boards. Player One has the option of Passing or placing a Bet. If they pass, they place a yellow Pass Token on the circle space of the Card Track at the top of their game board. If they choose to Bet, they place a number of chips on the spot instead.
Play now passes to the next player. If Player One passed, then Player Two also has the option to do so, and so on until every player has passed. Player Two also has the option to Bet. Once any player has placed a Bet, then all the other players must either Call (match) it, or Fold. Any Player who previously passed on that card must choose to replace their Pass Token with a Bet or a Fold Token, and add a second Fold Token on top of the card itself.
Folding on a Card Bet means that card will not be eligible to be part of the player’s five-card hand at the end of the round, but more on that later.
Once each player has either Passed, Bet, or Folded on their first Face-Down Card, the first communal card is drawn by the Dealer. This card is one of five which is placed face up in the middle of the table and is eligible to be used by any player as part of their hand, just as with the cards played to the table during a traditional Texas Hold’em poker game.
Player One must now decide how confident they are about forming a strong five-card poker hand based on the cards they have available to them. At this point, they will either have access to one card (if they folded on their first Face-Down Card) or two cards if their first Face-Down card is available to them. Betting proceeds just as it did for the Card Bets only this time on the Hand Track of their Game Board, with players able to Bet, Fold (this time folding on the entire hand instead of a single card, although they are still eligible to place Card Bets) or Pass if no other player has already placed a bet.
This cycle is then repeated for the remaining eight cards with a Face-Down Card dealt to Position Two on each player’s Game Board, betting, then another face-up card to the communal area, betting, and so on until each player has five Face-Down Cards on their Game Board and there are five face-up cards in the communal area.
Before the winning poker hand is revealed, the Card Bet winners are revealed. Each player turns over the card in their first space unless it has a Fold Token on top of it. The player with the highest value card (Aces are high) is the winner of that Card Bet and wins all the chips from the first card Bet spots on all the players’ Game Boards. Then, the cards in position two are revealed, the person with the highest value card wins all those bets, and so on until all five cards are revealed.
In the example above, the winners are:
At this point, all the players will have between zero and five cards face up on their Game Board depending on how many cards they folded on during the round.
At this point, the winner of the current round is determined by seeing which player can create the best hand from all their available cards – the five communal cards available to everyone, and any unfolded, face-up cards on their Game Boards. Unlike in traditional Texas Hold ‘Em where every player would have seven cards to work with (two secret ones in their hand and five communal), players in Dual Bet Poker Plus can have between five cards (if they folded all their Card Bets) and ten cards (if they didn’t fold any) to work with. Whichever player has the best five-card hand from all the cards available to them wins that round, and all the chips in the hand Track of every player’s Game Board.
Looking again at the example game, Player One has a Seven High Straight (Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven) which beats Player Two’s pair of fives and wins them the hand.
As in a regular poker game, there will be occasions where a player with very low chips goes All-In on a bet. For non-poker players, going All-In is where a player places all their remaining chips on a single bet. Whenever this happens in Dual Bet Poker Plus, one of two things happens.
As with traditional poker, the winner of Dual Bet Poker Plus is the last player holding chips, having won all the chips from the other players during the game. This will, inevitably, mean that players will be knocked out during the game and have to wait for the others to finish so this is not a game where everyone plays until the end. In order to help speed things up, an accelerator die is included which can be rolled to multiply the current minimum bet and help end the game faster.
There is a slight rules variant for two-player games of Dual Bet Poker Plus. The game rules are generally the same as for games with more players, however, if a player drops below the minimum chip bet, then the two players enter The Joust: a sudden death round with no Hand Bets.
In The Joust, a card is dealt face-down to both players and the player with the low chip count must go All-In on the card and have their bet matched by their opponent before the cards are revealed. If the low chip count player loses, they are eliminated and their opponent wins the game. If they win, then another card is dealt to both players. This process repeats until either the low chip count player is knocked out, or until both players have enough chips to meet the minimum bet.
Dual Bet Poker Plus adds in a strategic element not found in a regular poker game by making you consider multiple elements at once. You may be dealt a low Face-Down Card but be forced to bet high on it because you know you will need it to form a flush or straight for later in the round. Conversely, if you are running low on chips you may decide to fold on a relatively high Face-Down Card in order to bet higher on what you feel is a great hand in order to pick up a larger pot. This may, of course, be off-putting to some players who will find it hard to consider so many elements at once, but my gaming group really enjoyed playing after a few tutorial rounds to establish how the game works and was keen to get back together and play again soon.
I played Dual Bet Poker Plus with my father-in-law, a regular poker player who plays at the tournament level, and he found himself astounded by the hands that came out. The simple addition of three extra cards in each player’s hand over a normal poker hand of two cards meant that the statistics on the likelihood of certain combinations coming out was fundamentally altered. While in a normal poker tournament you might see a flush every 40 or so rounds, in Dual Bet Poker Plus barely any rounds ended without a player revealing a flush or a straight. In one memorable round, our group of four each had a hand that would almost certainly win you the pot in a regular game, with one player holding a Two Pair, the next a Nine-High Flush AND a Straight, the next a Queen-High Flush, and the final player winning with an Ace-High Flush. This would be unthinkable in a regular game of poker. What this also meant is that frequent poker players may not have the advantage you would think going into the game, as their intuition will be thrown off within a few hands.
The secondary Card Betting is also advantageous to strategic playing. At one point during a game of Dual Bet Poker Plus, I found myself reduced to a small number of chips. While in a normal game, players with larger pots would then try to bully me out, this is much harder to achieve in Dual Bet Poker Plus. At that time, I focused solely on the Card Bets, only ever passing or folding on the Hand Bets. Because I was dealt a few high numbered cards, this allowed me to claw back chips by simply playing a game of higher or lower for a few rounds and winning those Bets until I had enough to begin risking chips on making a good hand. It can be a frustrating method, as you’ll be able to see where you could have won with a good hand, but it will keep you afloat and prevent chip leaders pushing you out of the game with high Hand Bets.
I did find one problem when playing Dual Bet Poker Plus. I am a very visual poker player who refers continually to the cards I’m holding while playing. In traditional poker, this is easy because you are only holding two cards and you can keep them in your hand – literally – so it’s easy to keep checking back. In Dual Bet Poker Plus, you have up to five cards and they must stay in their spaces on your Game Board most of the time. This meant I was constantly flicking them up, often trying to lift several cards at once in order to see all the cards I currently had in play at that moment. For those with a better memory or who can play less visually, this is unlikely to be a problem, but I found myself wishing for a system where I could see my cards in front of me more easily.
Our family really enjoyed playing Dual Bet Poker Plus, and I can see it being brought out at multiple family gatherings in the future; this is a fantastic evolution to an already popular game.
This post was last modified on April 8, 2019 1:32 pm
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