Chicago Poker; a Seven-Card Stud Variant
The Poker variant Chicago should not be confused with the Bridge variation or the Swedish card game of the same name. To distinguish it, the Poker versions are often called High Chicago or Low Chicago.
Chicago is, in essence, a variation of Seven-Card Stud, in the dealing, betting and play. The twist is that every High Chicago pot is split between the highest Poker hand and the highest Spade among the hole cards. The game is played with between two and eight players per table, using a standard 52-card deck. Some tables offer no-limit play, but most have specified minimum and maximum bets for each round of betting.
The Order of Play
All players bet an ante to be dealt in. Each player is dealt two cards face down and one card face up. A betting round follows, with players deciding whether to call, raise or fold. In many casinos, the player showing the lowest card has to make the first bring-in bet.
Every surviving player is dealt a fourth card face up, followed by another betting round. The fifth and sixth cards are also dealt face up, with another betting round after each one. The seventh and final card is dealt face down, followed by a final round of betting. The players thus have four cards showing, and three hole cards, when they make their final bets. The hole cards are turned over, and the highest Spade and highest Poker combinations identified.
In some versions of Chicago, players must declare, when placing their final bet, whether they think they have the highest hand, the highest Spade in the hole, or both. They can only win what they call correctly. In most games, however, the highest face-down Spade and the highest Poker hand split the pot automatically.
Low Chicago has One Small Difference
Low Chicago is a Chicago variant that plays by exactly the same rules, with a simple difference. The lowest Spade in the hole, not the highest, wins half the pot. The other half goes to the highest Poker combination as usual.
Chicago has spawned more Poker variations of its own, like High and Low San Francisco. These two games play by exactly the same rules as High and Low Chicago, except that it’s the highest or lowest Heart in the hole that wins half the pot.
Limitations in Cards on Big Tables
Because every player gets dealt seven cards, a table of eight or, if the dealer discards a card between each round of dealing, even seven players can run out of cards on Chicago hands where everyone stays in. To counteract this, most casinos play the rule that once all eight players have been dealt six cards and nobody has folded, a single community card is dealt as every player’s seventh card.
In games where the dealer discards or ‘burns’ the top card before each round of dealing, if players get to the final round without folding and there aren’t enough cards left, the burnt cards are shuffled in with the remaining cards to complete the deal. Any cards discarded by players folding are not included, however.
Golden Rule in Chicago Betting
Any effective Seven-Card Stud betting strategy can be used in Chicago, with one added advantage. A player with the Ace of Spades in the hole in High Chicago, or the Two of Spades in Low Chicago, must bet on to the end of the hand, as they are guaranteed at least half the pot.