Chicago Poker

Especially popular in Sweden, Chicago poker differs from other poker games in that it isn’t driven by betting. Instead, the objective is to reach 52 points.

Typical Chicago Scores

One pair

1 point

Two pair

2 points

Three of a kind

3 points

Straight

4 points

Flush

5 points

Full house

6 points

Four of a kind

7 points

Straight flush

8 points

*Royal flush

9 points

*Often, the holder of a royal flush is granted an immediate victory.

Card Exchanges

Initially, each player is dealt five hole cards. Players can then choose to exchange any number of these cards.

In many Chicago poker variations, a “one up” rule applies. This specifies that if a player chooses to exchange just one of their hole cards, the player is dealt a face-up card and can then choose to take this card or a new, unseen card from the top of the deck.

Once the players have exchanged their cards, only the player with the best hand earns points.

All players then exchange any number of their cards a second time.

After the second exchange, any player can choose to “play Chicago”. In this case, the player will earn an extra 15 points by winning all the tricks of the game or suffer a penalty of 15 points by failing to win all the tricks.

After the Exchanges

After the two exchanges in Chicago poker, proper play begins. Each player plays a single card in turn and ordinary whist rules apply, although players keep their hands hidden.

The player who wins the last trick earns 5 points, and the player with the best hand earns points based on the values assigned to the card combinations in the hand. The same player may win both point allocations.

If a player is “playing Chicago” in the hopes of winning all tricks, they don’t qualify for the 5 points for winning the last trick.

Chicago Variations

Several variations of the basic Chicago poker game are played. For example,

  • the game may feature three instead of two card exchanges, with points allocated after each of the first two exchanges
  • a player dealt five hole cards all ranking below 10 may be allowed to replace all five cards before the exchanges begin
  • 10 rather than 5 points may be awarded to a player who wins the last trick with a deuce
  • the holder of four of a kind or a straight flush may be granted immediate victory