You know, life has an uncanny knack for presenting us with unexpected twists and turns, some as surprising as flopping a royal flush in your first hand at a poker table! When it comes to the age-old, tried-and-true game of poker, it seems almost all of us are familiar with its more conventional variants: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, and Draw. But what if I told you there are strange, peculiar, and delightfully bizarre versions of this beloved card game you’ve likely never encountered before?


Parli italiano? No worries, neither do I. But you don’t need to speak Italian to enjoy the thrills of Telesina, a captivating poker variant hailing from the sun-drenched lands of Italy.


Telesina, a flamboyant cousin to Five-Card Stud, jazzes up the traditional poker formula with an intriguing twist. Employing a traditional deck but spicing it up by having the lowest card equal to the number of players subtracted from 11. So with 5 players, you would play using a deck with the cards from the 6 up to the regal Ace, the game begins with each player receiving a mysterious hole card and a revealing face-up card. It’s like attending a mystery dinner theatre, where every card dealt brings more intrigue!


And here’s the crescendo—Telesina introduces the ‘vela’, a bonus 6th card revealed in the final dealing round, bringing a sudden plot twist that could rival any Verdi opera. Unlike the communal choruses of other poker games, here each player composes their own solo masterpiece, hoping their hand hits the highest notes to win the pot. In Telesina, every round is an aria, and the vela’s reveal? That’s the showstopper!

Spit in the Ocean

Ever wanted to combine poker with your dream of becoming a pirate? Yarrr, here’s your chance! No sea voyage is required; all you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to dive into uncharted waters.


In Spit in the Ocean, each buccaneer begins with a hand of four cards. Then, a fifth card is dealt face-up in the center of the table, acting as a communal card for all. But hang on to your pirate hats, mates! This center card isn’t just part of the loot; it transforms the game, serving as a beacon for your strategy. The community card is a wild card, as are any other cards that match rank. With a round of betting to navigate after its reveal, and the option to draw new cards to replace any old deckhands in your hand, this treasure of a poker variant can lead you straight to the jackpot. Ahoy, to the adventure of unusual poker variants!

a pineapple in the ocean

Pineapple Poker

If you thought pineapple was controversial on pizza – which it shouldn’t be, (we all know the truth, it belongs. Sweet, salty, savory all together, it’s perfect…stop fighting the future), wait till you see it in poker! Pineapple Poker – the thrill-packed cousin of Texas Hold’em – is one such game that’s sure to stir up excitement (and hopefully not the kind of drama that reigned during the Monopoly meltdown of ’07 – if you know, you know and it’s ok, you survived). The adventure begins as each player is dealt three hole cards, upping the ante right from the start. But here’s the twist: before the action unfolds on the flop, each player must discard one card. It’s a bit like a Flip & Go at GGPoker or a round of Survivor at your poker table. As you eye your trio of potential, you’ve got to strategize, “Which card am I willing to maroon on this desert island?” Choose wisely, because the two survivors will need to form alliances with the community cards to secure your victory at showdown. 

Chinese Poker

In Chinese Poker, also known as “Pusoy” or “13 Card Poker,” each player receives a full hand of 13 cards and faces the challenge of crafting them into three distinct hands of varying strength. Now, you might think it’s all fun and fortune cookies, but don’t be fooled—this game demands a hearty mix of strategy, cunning, and quick decision-making. Picture it as a spicy stir-fry of traditional poker elements blended with strategic complexity! Players must organize their cards into a 5-card back hand (strongest), a 5-card middle hand (second strongest), and a 3-card front hand (weakest). As hands are revealed, the real excitement begins, comparing each segment with opponents’ to garner points. Think of it as laying down a culinary masterpiece where every ingredient must be perfectly placed to create the most satisfying flavor—or in this case, winning combinations!

Chinese lanterns

Embracing the Wild Card of Poker Varieties

So, there you have it, folks—a whirlwind tour through some of the most intriguing poker variants hidden in the card-playing cosmos. From the tropical zest of Pineapple Poker to the strategic depths of Chinese Poker, not to mention the operatic drama of Telesina and the swashbuckling thrills of Spit in the Ocean, these games add rich, new flavors to our beloved classic.


Exploring these novel poker landscapes is like shuffling a deck—you never know what hand you’re going to be dealt next. Whether it’s the camaraderie around the table, the adrenaline rush of a clever bluff, or the sheer unpredictability of the next card, it’s this beautiful chaos that keeps us anteing up for more.


It’s about time to shuffle up your poker night, wouldn’t you agree? Dive headfirst into the unknown and introduce these lesser-known but utterly captivating poker variants to your table. So go forth, shuffle that deck, and deal yourself into a hand of exhilarating novelty!