Community games involve a certain number of cards dealt face-down to each player, as well as a certain number of cards laid out in the center of the table. These cards are flipped over as the game progresses, with betting rounds in between the flipping of cards. Players put together their best five card hand by combining some or all of the cards dealt to them with some of the community cards that have been dealt in the center of the table.
The purpose of these community cards is that they are “shared” amongst the players. Two players, for example, may make use of the same community cards in order to complete their hands. The one big difference between one Community game and the next is the format in which community cards are laid out on the table. The more common Community games involve the community cards being laid out in a line, a cross, or a circle, although the variations are endless.
As cards are flipped over either one at a time or several at a time, it is normally at the dealer’s discretion which cards get flipped, as he is the one doing the flipping. I have heard it said that the only thing that distinguishes one Community game from the next is the geometric shape that the cards are laid out in. For this reason, stipulations are usually needed to spice up a Community game.
This format of community cards is more common in the Hold ‘Em games, played by big-shot casino- and big money tournament-goers. It simply involves a line of cards flipped either one at a time or a few at a time and used in conjunction with the cards dealt to a player to make the best five card hand. Another common line game is Cinncinati, which involves no more than 3 cards dealt to each player and a line of 4 cards in the center of the table, flipped one at a time. Players use these seven cards to make their best five card hand (more of a beginner’s game than anything else, I decided not even to give it its own section on this page).
This format of community cards involves rows of cards that intersect at some point, the most popular being Iron Cross. This typically involves a card that acts as the cross-point between rows of cards, this card being part of each row. There is normally a stipulation regarding that one card. It can be wild. Or, as some play, the player who is dealt the highest card of the same suit as the cross-point card wins half the pot. In other words, if the cross-point card is the Two of Hearts, then the player who is dealt the highest Heart gets half the pot, the other half going to the player with the best hand at the table. For this reason, it is normally good form that the dealer flip that center card last. If it is wild or if the highest of its suit gets half the pot, the game is far more exciting when it is the last card flipped.
This format is not as common. It involves a loop of cards, again either flipped over one at a time or several at a time by the dealer. The stipulation, as in Merry Go Round, is normally that cards in the loop used by players must be adjacent to each other. That is, if a player uses three cards from the circle of cards in conjunction with his hand, those three cards must be side-by-side on the circle.
The prominent feature of Community games are the rounds of betting that ensue the flipping of each card. At most small stakes tables, the general rule is that for every card flipped face-up by the dealer, there is a round of betting. One way that betting rounds can work is with the player to the left of the dealer, called the ‘sucker’, opening each of these betting rounds, as there are no cards showing a la Stud games.
However, with games like H-Bomb that involve alot of betting rounds, another way is to have the opening of the betting round shift around the table in clockwise order for each card flipped. In other words, the first betting round is opened by the player to the dealer’s left…the second betting round, opened by the player sitting 2 seats to the left of the dealer, the third round, by the player 3 seats to the left of the dealer, etc. I favour the latter method, as it does not put the pressure on one player to open each of several betting rounds.
High / Low:
Alot of people enjoy adding this element to a Community game. As in Stud games, High/Low involves the pot being split in two at the end of the game, half of it going to the player with the best hand, the other half going to the player with the worst hand. This feature keeps more players in the game longer, although the pot does get split in half.
The dealer may also decide to add more betting rounds to the game by requiring players to “roll” their cards in the hole. After all of the community cards have been flipped and on the dealer’s count of three, each player flips over a face-down card of their choice. Best card showing opens a betting round, after which each player flips over a second card. A betting round is again opened by the best hand showing. This continues until each player only has one card remaining face-down. Final betting round, and then showdown.