The game went live almost a month ago, but PartyPoker just made it official with a press release this week: Double Hold’em has landed. The new poker variety is available at both real and play money tables and should prove to be a fun change of pace for even the most devoted Texas Hold’em players.
In Double Hold’em, players are dealt three hole cards rather than the traditional two. After the flop, one of the three cards must be selected as the “point” card (unless the player opts to fold, of course). This point card is then physically moved in between the other two cards and pushed up slightly, creating a triangle of sorts with the three hole cards. The point card is now used to create dual two-card starting hands, one with each of the other hole cards. The two non-point cards do not play together. At showdown, just like in regular Hold’em, the player with the best five-card hand wins and either pair of hole cards can be used to make the best hand. The betting rounds play the same as Hold’em: pre-flop, flop, turn, and river.
Let’s go through an example. Say you are dealt 6h-Ac-5c. You decide to play this hand, so you call pre-flop and see a flop of 3s-4h-Kc. At this point, PartyPoker will give you a few seconds to set your point card. In this case, it looks like you’ll want to at least put the 5 and 6 together so that you have an open-ended straight draw, so the logical option is to make the 5c the point card. With your rearranged hole cards reading 6h-5c-Ac, you now have two sets of cards to run with: 6-5 off suit, which gives you the aforementioned open-ended straight draw, and Ac-5c, which gives you a backdoor flush draw. The 6h and Ac have nothing to do with each other from here on out.
After a round of betting, the Qc falls on the turn, giving you a club flush draw (Ac-5c) to go along with your open-ended straight draw (5c-6h). Another betting round ensues and then the river is dealt: 2d. Using the 5c-6h, you hit your straight. Your busted flush draw doesn’t matter. One more betting round and the cards are flipped over, just like in standard Hold’em.
Double Hold’em was created by E. Mark Gross and Zvi Lando, CEO and CFO, respectively, of TableBrain. In an exclusive blog post at PartyPoker.com, Gross billed Double Hold’em as giving players “more playable hands, more action, and bigger pots! It’s a poker game built by poker fans for poker fans.”
Gross wrote that he and Lando created the game back in 2006, but it took a long time to refine the concept and get it just right in order to achieve their goal of creating “fun, intelligent games that allow players to have more continuous action and decisions at the table.”
TableBrain has also developed a video poker version of the game, which it calls EZ Double Hold’em. There are two variations of this. One is the standard video poker-style game in which a player places a bet before the cards are dealt with no further betting; the other is similar to the live game, with betting rounds at the start, prior to setting the point, after the flop, and after the turn. EZ Double Hold’em can be played for free on TableBrain’s website.
According to industry monitor PokerScout.com, PartyPoker ranks third in terms of cash game traffic behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. PartyPoker had been in a tight battle with the iPoker Network, but has recently gained some separation. It owns a seven-day average of 4,250 cash game players versus iPoker’s 3,650. They are both comfortably ahead of the Ongame Network, but light years behind Full Tilt, so it appears that the two will be jockeying for the third spot for quite some time to come.