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Just How ‘Chicago’ is Chicago Poker?

While versions like seven-card stud, Omaha Hi, and Texas Hold’em have long been successful throughout the world, up-and-coming variants such as Chicago Poker are seeking to make their mark on the casino industry.

Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr

Chicago is famous for many things; the Blackhawks, the Bears, deep-dish pizza — and it seems we also have our own poker game.

Within modern-day society, there are many different poker variants available to play both online and at land-based casinos. While versions like seven-card stud, Omaha Hi, and Texas Hold’em have long been successful throughout the world, up-and-coming variants such as Chicago Poker are seeking to make their mark on the casino industry.

As a result, we’re going to look at the origins of the Chicago variant, while also analyzing the rules. Moreover, we’ll also discuss how the profile of the game could be raised.

Its Origins and How to Play

Despite having its name geographically linked to Chicago, the most populous city in the state of Illinois, this poker variant isn’t even thought to have originated from the United States of America. Chicago Poker has become one of the most popular versions of the traditional table-based game in Scandinavia, with few countries embracing it more than Sweden. Crucially, this is because there is a widespread belief that Chicago Poker first came to fruition in the Scandinavian nation.

Despite its name, numerous online reports allege that this now-popular variant was established by the Russian mafia at an underground poker club in Hammarbykajen, Stockholm. Furthermore, it’s also believed that Chicago Poker is a variant of a traditional Swedish card game known as Fem-kort, and, at the time of writing, there are no reports declaring how old the game is.

Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr
The Ace of Spades is, in Chicago Poker, the highest and most valuable card in the deck.

Within the Chicago poker variant, each player at the table is dealt five cards throughout the course of the round and, upon being given their hand, they are able to exchange any of their cards with the overall objective being to reach 52 points. In Chicago High, players can win a share of the total prize pool in two ways. Primarily, this can be achieved through possessing the highest-value hand, while the other method, which often gives players with a less promising hand the chance of taking some winnings from the pot, is dependent upon having the highest spade at the table. However, in order to win half of the betting total in this manner, players must have placed their spade face down earlier in the round.

How Do the Rules Compare to More Established Poker Variants?

Despite some similarities in the format of Chicago Poker, the rules do differ from other, more well-known variants of the table-based game. Similarly to separate seven-card stud variants, such as Black Mariah and Follow the Queen, high-value cards, typically aces or queens, are of real significance in these particular versions of poker. Additionally, like numerous other casino-based games, notably traditional forms of poker, bluffing is a pivotal aspect of the strategic approach to the Chicago variant. That said, however, it is often performed slightly differently due to the high-value card ruling that is in place. As players who keep you guessing will guarantee more problems than predictable opponents, the art of bluffing in Chicago Poker is centered around trying to represent the potentially pot-winning ace.

Compared to traditional poker, there are numerous differences in the rules when analyzed alongside the Chicago variant. For example, if a player was to produce a round-winning full house hand in Texas Hold’em, then they would walk away with the total prize pool. Although Chicago Poker players will also reap the rewards of having the very same hand, the variant also means that they will claim six points, which crucially goes towards achieving the game-winning score of 52. Generally, the basic poker rules usually stay consistent across different forms, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t subtle differences between, for example, Chicago Poker and Omaha Hi-Lo. As mentioned above, 50 percent of the pot goes to the player with the highest-value spade in the variant which originates from Sweden, while in Omaha Hi-Lo, the round’s betting total is split between the players with the highest and lowest hand.

The Scope for it to Be More Widely Adopted in Chicago

Because of the vastness of Chicago, which is the third-most populous city in the entirety of the US, the prospect of expanding the reach of the poker variant is undoubtedly a possibility. Fundamentally, because of the rise of digitalization, there is a sizable market that could be reached by taking Chicago Poker online.

There is also still an opportunity for the scope of Chicago Poker to be more widely adopted. Generally, the state of Illinois allows gambling in many different formats, including in-house casino games, horse racing, sports betting, and more. Due to this, there are no regulations in place that deny local casinos from providing a legal and regulated route to Chicago Poker. In November 2019, lawmakers approved the construction of a Las Vegas-style casino in Chicago in an attempt to boost revenue and tourism. This type of establishment would be the ideal location to help widen the appeal of Chicago Poker as it would raise the game’s profile among not just city and state locals, but also international visitors.

Photo: RMTip21/Flickr
Sports teams could be central to generating further interest in Chicago Poker.

Furthermore, the intertwining of sports teams with Chicago Poker could have a significant effect on the broader appeal of the traditional table-based game variant. As the city is the home to the Chicago Bulls, who are seeking to return to serious contention this season, as well as the Blackhawks and Bears, who play in the NBA, NHL, and NFL respectively, there is scope for one of these sides to appropriate Chicago Poker as their own. From a marketing standpoint, this could be beneficial to both the teams in question and the five-card poker variant with branded playing cards, for example, being a realistic avenue to explore.

Despite its Similarities, Chicago Poker is Positively Different to Traditional Variants

Ultimately, there can no doubt that having already grown popular in Scandinavian countries, there is scope for the subtly different poker variant to establish itself within the US. The unpredictability of Chicago Poker regarding the possession of the highest-value spade makes for an intriguing format that results in alternate routes to winning a split of the total pot. If online gambling regulations were to be relaxed and one of the well-known sports teams decided to promote the game, then the variant which originates from Sweden could, in the future, become one of the most popular games, not just in Chicago, but throughout the globe.

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2 years ago

[…] Just How ‘Chicago’ is Chicago Poker?  On Tap Sports Net […]


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