Countdown Poker Rules

Countdown is a poker variation that mimics other poker games and adds one simple rule to the list. Right before the final betting round, a wild card is introduced to the game. The wild card is determined by how many players are remaining in the hand. For example, if there are two players left, all 2s are considered wild cards.

Most of the time, Countdown Poker is played with Seven Card Stud rules. The cards, betting rounds and rules all remain the same until the very end. At the end of the hand, the wild card is determined and the players then have one last betting round.

Some players also use Texas Hold'em rules to play countdown poker. In that case, each hand is played as normal until right before the river round of betting. The wild card is determined by how many players are still remaining in the hand at that point. Once the wild card has been determined, play continues as normal.

In games like Texas Holdem, community cards should never be considered wild cards. For example, if the hand ends up with 3s as the wild card and there’s a 3 on the board, that 3 should not be considered a wild card. Only the cards in players’ hands can be turned into wild cards.

The unpredictability of the wild card adds a new dimension to any poker game. It’s more than just having a wild card, it’s the uncertainty. As the hand winds down, the players can have an idea of which card will be the wild one, but they’ll never know for sure. Once the wild card has been established, the game continues on as normal.

Example Hand

This example uses Texas Holdem rules but remember that Countdown can be applied to any poker game.

  1. The deck is shuffled and the two players to the left of the dealer pay the blinds.
  2. Five players each receive two hole cards.
  3. There is a round of betting. One of the players folds and four players remain.
  4. The flop is dealt and there is another round of betting. One player folds and three players remain.
  5. The turn is dealt and there is another round of betting. Nobody folds during this round.
  6. The river card is dealt. Right before this round of betting, the wild cards are determined. In this example, there are three players remaining so all 3s are considered wild cards. There is one last round of betting.

The remaining players now have a showdown. The player with the best hand wins the pot. Anyone with a 3 may use that card as a wild card.