Infinite Deck Poker
This week, "darryl" from our poker forums asked if he could write about the concept of playing poker with an infinite number of decks. We thought it sounded like an interesting idea and let darryl have the floor this week. Take it away, darryl!
One variation in poker that I've always wanted to try is playing with an infinite number of decks. This could really only be possible by playing on some sort of computer. It would obviously be pretty tough to ask a dealer to shuffle an infinite number of decks!
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The best way to kind of emulate this at a casino would be kind of how some black jack tables have six or eight decks constantly shuffling which makes card counting futile. Infinite deck poker would make for some new hands that aren't possible using one deck. Also there would be some interesting shifts in odds of making different hands. It would also allow some game variations, like Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, to have more players.
The first obvious difference in infinite deck poker is that five of a kind becomes a possibility. Surprisingly, it isn't a whole lot more difficult to get dealt 5 of a kind using infinite decks than it is to be dealt four of a kind using one deck. This is because with each new card you receive, the odds don't change for the next card, but with one deck, it changes tremendously. With one deck, by the time you get three of a kind, there is one card left for quads. But with infinite decks, it's as though there are still four left in the deck. It could even be theoretically possible (but statistically unlikely) for multiple players to have the same five of a kind hand. Heck, everyone in the hand could be dealt the same exact cards! More interesting to me is that one could have five of a kind all suited for a five of a kind flush. That should be the most valued hand since the odds are the longest.
Another consequence of infinite decks is that flushes become easier to get than straights. To help see why, in a traditional game with one deck, when one has an open ended straight draw, they have eight cards to make their straight (four on both ends). For the sake of this example, lets say we are playing hold'em and three cards are exposed on the flop along with two whole cards. This means one has 8 out of 47 chances to make the straight (1 in 5.88). With a flush draw in a one deck game, one has 9 out of 47 chances to make the flush (1 in 5.22). If we switch to infinite decks, it changes. With a straight draw there are still 8 cards that will help, but it becomes out of 52 (1 in 6.5) since the exposed cards have no impact on possible next cards. So it's a bit more difficult to hit. With a flush draw however, it becomes much easier to hit. It would be as though there are still 13 cards left to help you hit your flush out of 52 or 1 in 4. Note that it's highly probable that when hitting a flush, one will likely have a pair or two (or even three of a kind). I would propose that the highest hand is what counts. So if one has three 8 of clubs and two other clubs, then the flush is hand rank.
While doing a bit of searching prior to writing this article, I came across this page which lists different hand rankings including some that I never even thought of. I think my favorite one on the list is the "Brady Bunch" which is a full house but the pair is suited and the trips are a different suit.
Using infinite decks, it would be possible to play some variations such as 7-card stud and 5-card draw with a full ten players (or even more). I don't necessarily think this would be better. In fact I would think it would make it less interesting especially in the case of stud. Seeing the face up cards won't tell you a thing about the face down cards. In one deck stud, seeing three aces exposed and knowing you have one as a hole card means no one has any aces as hole cards. But seeing three aces with infinite decks tells you nothing about the hole cards. I suppose this could be good because none of the other players could deduce anything either, nevertheless, I feel it wouldn't be quite as interesting.
In a game like hold'em or Omaha where there are community cards, it could still be interesting since everyone is able to use the community cards. With hold'em, some of the interesting things to bear in mind is that getting a pocket pair is now 1 in 13 instead of 1 in 17. Also, having the nut flush now might require one to have two suited Aces that match the flush. It could be easy to stack someone with an Ace on a four-to-a-flush board when you have the same Ace, plus a higher spade in your hand.
Omaha could become interesting too. If one is dealt four of a kind with one deck, it's pretty much the worst hand because you may only use 2 of your cards and you cannot possibly improve your pocket pair. But with infinite decks, you could still get five of a kind. Your Deuce-Deuce-Deuce-Deuce could see a Duece-Deuce-Duece-xx board. It's highly improbable, but it could still happen. The crazy thing is, one of your opponents could have two Deuces as well and you may end up chopping your 5 of a kind hand! The infinite decks would make starting hands a bit less important and post flop skills more important.
I could go on longer, but I think you all get the general idea. If any online poker company decides to use this idea, feel free to. All I ask for in return is 0.1% of the rake on such tables! :-)