Chowaha is an interesting variation on Texas Hold ‘em in which three flops of three cards each, two turn cards and a single river card are dealt as community cards.
Before play starts, the player to the left of the dealer posts a small blind of an agreed value and the next player to the left posts a big blind, which is typically twice the value of the small blind. The blinds “seed” the pot, ensuring that even from the first round, the stakes are worth playing for.
Each player is dealt two hole cards, which they conceal from other players, and a betting round ensues. Betting starts with the player who posted the small blind and proceeds around the table.
Chowaha: The Flop, Turn and River
After the first betting round, the dealer places a flop of nine cards, positioned as three rows of three cards each, face up in the centre of the table.
After a standard betting round, the dealer adds two additional cards – known as the “the turn.” One of these cards is placed in between the first and second rows of flop cards. The other is placed between the second and third rows of flop cards.
There’s a standard betting round, and a final community card – known as “the river” – is added immediately below the second row of flop cards.
At this point, the board structure of the community cards is as follows:
- a first row of three flop cards
- one turn card
- a second row of three flop cards
- one river card
- one turn card
- a third row of three flop cards
Chowaha: Making a Final Hand
A final round of betting occurs, and then each player who hasn’t yet folded derives their best final hand of five cards using their two hole cards, one card from any of the three flops, the turn card immediately above or below the chosen row of flop cards, and the river card.
For example, say the three rows of flop cards are named F1, F2 and F3, the two turn cards are named T1 and T2, and the single river card is named R. To make a final poker hand of five cards, a player can choose to combine their two hole cards with
- F1 – T1 – R
- F2 – T1 – R
- F2 – T2 – R
- F3 – T2 – R
A showdown takes place and the player with the best hand wins the pot.
Chowaha may be played as a high-low split game, in which case the player with the highest hand splits the pot with the player who has the lowest-ranking hand. To qualify as a low hand, a hand must include five cards ranked lower than 8 and no pairs. One Chowaha player may have both the highest and the lowest hand – for example, A-2-3-4-5 may win as the lowest possible hand and, as high cards, as a straight.