David Pham, Johnny Chan, J.C. Tran, Scotty Nguyen, J.C. and the list goes on. Three of these poker players, Pham, Nguyen and Tran are ranked in the World Top 10 Poker Players by World Poker Rank. Johnny Chan holds the distinction of being the only poker player to win two consecutive World Series of poker Main event Championships. One reason why these poker players and so many others from Asian countries have experienced success on the World Poker Tour and in the World Series of Poker might be the games that they played as children. Asian children are playing Big 2, Thirteen Card and other card games that involve knowledge of poker hands. These games require recognition of poker hands and developing an aggressive playing strategy. They also teach patience and knowing when to take control and to begin aggressively attacking your opponents. I was recently introduced to Big 2 while visiting with some Asian acquaintances. They taught me a version of Big 2 that is non-competitive and is excellent for family members of all ages.
Let’s begin with the mechanics of the game. The Deuces are king in Big 2. They are the highest ranked cards able to beat Aces. The suits also have strength. Spades are the strongest suit followed by Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds. Therefore, the Deuce of Spades is the highest ranking card in the deck. To illustrate, the Deuce of Spades beats the Deuce of Hearts, Deuce of Clubs and the Deuce of Diamonds. The Heart Deuce beats the Club and Diamond Deuce. The Club Deuce beats the Diamond Deuce. This pattern continues through all the card ranks.
‘Big 2’ is a card game for family members of all ages. The number of players can include as many players as you would like to accommodate. For larger numbers of players simply add more decks of cards. Each hand involves the players trying to be the first to lay down all of their cards. Play continues until there is only one player left holding cards. That lucky person gets to deal the next hand.
The hand commences with all the cards being dealt out to the players clockwise around the table. Depending on the number of players, one or more players may receive an extra card. Players should then sort the cards in their hands arranging them into poker hands in groupings of single cards, pairs, two pairs, triples, four of a kind and five-card groups. Sorting your cards and planning the order in which you might wish to play them is an important aspect of strategy.
The first round of the hand begins with the player holding the weakest card in the deck, the Three of Diamonds, leading that card. The Trey of Diamonds may be played as a single card or in any legal card grouping that is, a pair, two pair, triple, for of a kind, or five-card combination. Play proceeds around the table with each player in turn playing the same number of cards, as initially led, that are of greater value than the previous played card(s). Both rank and suit must be taken into account. For example, a pair of fives, 5 of Hearts and Five of Clubs, would lose to a pair of fives of a higher suit, 5 of spades and 5 of Diamonds. The 5 of Spades is the strongest card in the two sets of pairs. A pair of Fives would also lose to a pair of a higher rank, for example, a pair of sixes beats the pair of fives because the sixes are the higher ranked pair. Cards are played on top of the pile of previous cards played in the middle of the table. Players need not play when their turn comes up, they may pass instead. Passing is either a play of necessity, when the player is unable to beat the previously played card(s), or strategic, i.e. the player is able to beat the previous card, but does not wish to break up a poker hand such as a pair, triple, flush, etc, to do so. However, the player may choose to play if play continues around the table and returns to that player.
The first round continues until no player is able to beat or chooses not to beat the previously played card(s). The player who made the last play now controls play and leads the first card(s) to start play for the second round. This player may lead with any of the one of the legal card combinations. Strategy comes into play in knowing when to split a poker hand or when to make a strategic pass. Having power allows you to proactively control how you play your cards. In some instances, this may require giving up power if you are confident that you can regain power at the critical time. At the critical time, playing first will enable you take control and play a series of strong hands in succession that will allow you to run out your cards. In the final showdown at the end of the hand, the player who leads the final card or cards wins even if the other player is able to defeat the played card or cards.
For each of the ensuing hands, the players who are the first to play all of their cards will initiate play in the next hand whether or not they have the Trey of Diamonds. That player will also be dealt the first card by the losing player from the previous hand. In this fun game, if a new player enters the game, that player deals the cards and the opening play will then revert back to the player with the three of Diamonds initiating play.
This is a fun family game that can continue as long as there are people who wish to play. Scores are not kept so players can join in or drop out as they see fit. This is the family friendly, fun version of Big 2. With slightly different rules it is also a fun adult game that is played for wagers. Whatever your preferences it a fun game that can help the player develop their poker hand knowledge and develop card playing strategies.