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Chicago poker

The poker game called Chicago is one of the most popular card games in Sweden today. Relying on the keeping of score instead of the placing of bets, it is suitable even for environments such as schools, where gambling is often prohibited. The game exists in countless versions, so here a (somewhat arbitrarily chosen) basic game will be followed by a number of possible variations.

Hand scores

The backbone of the game is that each poker hand has its own point value, as given in this table:

One pair – 1 point.
Two pair – 2 points.
Three of a kind – 3 points.
Straight – 4 points.
Flush – 5 points.
Full House – 6 points.
Four of a kind – 7 points (but see Variations below).
Straight flush – 8 points (but see Variations below).

Basic rules

Chicago is played with a standard 52-card deck. Each player is dealt five cards. The objective is to reach 52 points.

Exchanges and hand scoring

The players are allowed to exchange any number of their cards. If a player chooses to exchange one card only, he may choose “one up”, meaning that he is dealt one card faced up, which he can either accept, or instead take the next card unseen. After the exchanges, the player with the best hand (and only one player) gets points for his hand. Then follows another round of exchanges, but no hand scoring.

The game

Now, the first player begins by playing one card. Ordinary whist rules apply, but the players keep their cards collected by themselves. The player who wins the last trick gets 5 points. Also, the player with the best hand (whether it is the same player or not) gets points for his hand.


After the second exchange, any player can choose to play Chicago. In this case, he pledges himself to win all the tricks of the game. If he does, he is awarded 15 points, but if he fails, the penalty is just as harsh: -15 points.


  • Sometimes, a player given five cards below ten (either inclusive or exclusive) is allowed to replace them before the exchanges begin.
  • Some play with 3 exchanges instead of 2. Then of course, scoring for hands will be made after both the first and the second exchange.
  • Some do not use the “one up” rule.
  • Often, one wants to give higher rewards than 7 or 8 points for Four of a kind and Straight flush respectively. There are several ways to achieve this, most notably by elevating the player immediately to 52 points, or lowering either all players or one player of the holder’s choice to 0 points, or a combination of these. Holding a Royal flush usually means immediate victory.
  • The confusion is great as to what scores are appointed in the case of Chicago. Some will argue that no player will get any points at all besides the +15 or -15, whilst others will allow almost any points. The +5 for the game, however, can never be stacked with the +15 for Chicago.
  • Some prescribe that any player with 45 points or more is not allowed to replace any cards.
  • Some require that after (and not in the same hand as) a player reaches 52 points, he must win the game once more before he actually wins. This handles the possibility that more than one player reach 52 points in the same hand.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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