written by: James

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Countdown is a popular poker game often played at home. It's great for playing with a large group of people. If you enjoy playing poker with a lot of your friends, you'll want to play Countdown with at least six other people. Seven or eight players, however, would be even more ideal.

Countdown - Learning How to Play

To begin playing Countdown poker, the dealer will first give out two hole cards to every player. Once these cards are dealt, the first betting round will take place. The player seated to the left of the dealer will start the first round. The dealer will then deal one card face-up to every player, over four rounds. After each round of card dealing, a betting round will take place. The player to begin the betting round is the player who has the best hand. If a player folds, they will not be dealt any additional cards and will essentially fold.

The seventh and final hole card is then dealt to whoever is still in the hand. Before the seventh card can be dealt, however, a wild card must be declared. The wild card must be equivalent to the number of players who have not folded before the seventh card is dealt. So for example, if there are only three people left in the hand, 3's are wild. If there are four people still in the hand, 4's will be declared wild.

The final betting round can finally take place after that seventh card is dealt. The wild card will not change even if there are players who fold once the seventh card is dealt. Instead, any players still in the hand will expose their cards and whoever has the best hand wins the contents of the pot.

Countdown - The Game of the Wild Card

Crucial to the game of Countdown poker is the wild card; it is what makes this a unique poker variant that works well with a lot of players. Since there are no community cards in Countdown, wild cards give an extra punch to the risk factor. Wild cards give the entire game an air of uncertainty because you'll never definitively know which card will end up as the wild one. Community cards should not be used as wild cards because it is too easy for a wild card to end up with the same value as a shared card.

If you have never played Countdown poker before, it is similar to the poker variant Seven Card Stud. The only difference comes in the form of the wild card before the final betting round. Further still, Texas Hold'em -- possibly the most played poker variant -- may also be used as a template of sorts for Countdown. In that case, the rules would not change until before the river round of betting. At this point, the wild card would be introduced.

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