Guts Poker

Guts Poker

Guts Poker is a game that uses many of the same elements of traditional poker, but is different enough to warrant being in a category of its own. The main identifying feature of Guts Poker is that players need to decide whether they are ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the game after every round, which is quite the opposite of traditional poker. As such, Guts Poker be classified more of a cousin to variants such a Texas Hold’em.

Guts Poker is essentially a game that involves three or fewer cards that have similar (or the same) rankings as regular poker, with multiple successive rounds. Each round has its own showdown and the pot grows rapidly, so that there is always plenty of action in a game of Guts Poker.

Click for details on history, hand rankings/nicknames and poker terminology/glossary.

Guts Poker in a Nutshell

Guts is a card game involving gambling, where a series of two or three cards are dealt, which are ranked similarly to regular poker. Players decide whether they are in or out the game, with each deal ending in a showdown. At this stage, the losers of the round either match or increase the pot. This will continue until single player remains standing, calls ‘in’ and takes home the accumulative pot.

Guts Poker as a High Stake Game

Because of the growing pot in Guts that is sometimes doubled and doubled again, playing this card game can prove to be quite an expensive endeavor. As such, the game, in its basic form, is not for the fainthearted!

Capping Stakes in Guts Poker

To make Guts Poker more accessible to the ‘common man in the street’ who doesn’t have an unlimited bankroll, a variant of the game was created whereby the dealer puts a cap on the game’s staking limits. This essentially means that there is a limit on the size on the pot and a limit on the amount of money that the player can lose. There are advantages and disadvantages to capping stakes in Guts Poker – on the one hand it ensures that nobody loses their entire bankroll, but on the other hand, it means that it takes much longer for the game to end because it prolongs the length of time until the pot cleared.

The Kitty Feature in Guts Poker

An extra challenge presented to players in Guts Poker is the kitty, the name given to a blind that is dealt face down and revealed to the players at the end of the game. The number of cards in the kitty hand matches the number of cards dealt to players at the beginning of each round. The idea of the kitty is that players who opt to stay in the game have to beat the other players as well as the kitty in order to win the pot. If the last player standing doesn’t beat the kitty, the kitty wins and players need to contribute to the pot. The game of Guts Poker with the kitty features will only come to an end when the last player manages to beat the kitty

Everybody Ante Feature in Guts Poker

Another variation that can be found in some Guts Poker games is the requirement that with each new round, all players have to re-ante into the prize pot. This variant differs from the traditional Guts Poker where the pot grows if three players opt to stay ‘in’ (player 1 gathers the pot, player 2 matches the pot and player 3 doubles the pot). With the Everybody Ante feature, the pot grows in relation to the size of all the players’ antes at each round of the game.

Simultaneous In/Out

As has been determined, players need to call ‘in’ or ‘out’ depending on how they want to continue playing. In many variants of Guts Poker, players declare their intentions in a certain order around the table, beginning at the dealer’s left. However, there is a major disadvantage to this variant, as other players can decide on whether they want to continue or not based on what the other players have called. In order to level the playing field, so to speak, one variant is to have all the players declare whether they are in or out simultaneously.

To do so, players all place their hands under the poker table and hold a coin in that hand. At the sign, players bring their hand above the table and indicate as follows:

  • If they want to remain in the game, they place the coin in their hand and drop it on the table.
  • If they want to stand out the game, they leave their chip in their other hand below the table.

The Chicken Rule in Guts Poker

If no player opts to go ‘in’, the Chicken Rule kicks into affect. All players are required to shows their hands and the player who has the strongest hand has to thereafter ante for the entire table before the next deal of cards. The advantage of the Chicken Rule is that players have to always play aggressively and not shy away from the challenges presented to them in this game.

Common Guts Poker Games

The Standard Game

  • The standard game of Guts is played with two cards.
  • The top hand is pairs, followed by the individual value of cards.
  • Players are dealt their cards and examine them.
  • They then announce if they want to be in or out of the hand.
  • Players who opt to stay in continue in the hand and compete for the pot.
  • The player with the winning hand at the end of the round takes home the pot.
  • All other players place an equal amount in the pot that is carried over to the next hand.
  • The pot will thus increase as each round continues until only one player is left in to take the pot.

Monte Carlo

  • The main difference between Monte Carlo Guts and standard Guts is that three cards instead of two are dealt to players around the table.
  • Cards are also ranked differently in Monte Carlo Guts.


  • A more complex version of the standard game of Guts Poker.
  • Five legs are required to be played before a winner can be declared.
  • A leg is won if only one player is left ‘in’.
  • Play commences with all players placing a large ante.
  • The dealer deals three cards to each player.
  • Threes are the wild card.
  • Players declare whether they want to be in or out.
  • In the case of Three-Five-Seven being played where the simultaneous in/out feature is not implemented, a player who calls ‘out’ has the right to change that call to in if the player to his left calls in.
  • Other players who called ‘in’ are not allowed to change their declaration.
  • Players who have opted to stay in show their cards to one another until everyone has seen them.
  • A round in Three-Five-Seven will end when the winner of the round is paid by the loser an amount that is equal to what was in the pot.
  • The players who opted to stay in are dealt two more cards in order to create a five card hand.
  • Fives now become the wild card.
  • When this round ends, players are dealt their final two cards to create a seven card hand.
  • Sevens now become the wild card.
  • The game will continue until one player wins all the legs and takes the whole pot.


  • This version of Guts Poker is also a five card version.
  • All players are initially dealt three cards.
  • Those players who opt to stay ‘in’ are dealt another two cards.
  • A round of betting begins, starting with the player to the dealer’s left.
  • The losers of the round will put in equal money and the winner takes the pot.
  • The last player sanding ‘in’ will win the pot.

Hand Rankings in Guts Poker

The hand rankings in Guts Pokers are similar to regular poker, as follows, from strongest to weakest:

Hand Description
Straight Flush Three cards that are of the same suit in sequence (for example, Five, Six, Seven of Diamonds).
Three of a Kind Three cards of equal rank.
Straight Three cards in sequence but of mixed suits.
Flush Three cards that are of the same suit.
Pair Two cards that are of equal rank.
High Card The highest card that the player has in his hand.

Other variants of Guts Poker

  • High Three of a Kind - Where a three of a kind is ranked above a straight flush.
  • Partial Hands – All players are dealt their cards face down, bar for one. If the player opts in, the last card is dealt facing up.
  • Low in and Wild – A three card variant of Guts where all players are dealt one card facing up. The player who has the lowest card facing up automatically stays ‘in’ the game, although the number on the card is wild.
  • Two Low in and Wild – A three card variant, where all players are dealt one card facing up. The players with the two lowest cards automatically stay ‘in’ but their card numbers are wild.
  • No Peek - Players are dealt their cards (either two or three) but are not allowed to look at them before they opt to stay in the game. This variant is purely for gambling purposes and involves no skill.
  • Nuts – A variant of traditional Guts Poker
  • Toh – A high card game that shares the same path of pot growth and in/out betting as Guts.


It is clear that Guts Poker is the kind of game that gets the player’s attention and keeps him mesmerized by the pace, high stakes and fast action. This is a great variant to traditional poker, all the while relying on the player’s basic knowledge of card rankings.

There are multiple versions of Guts Poker that can be played, with different features added in for greater variety and entertainment. Players are able to find several variants of Guts Poker and land-based poker rooms as well as popular online poker rooms that offer this game.

Posted by CCJ Team