A few weeks ago I blogged about a mixed games home poker game I went to here in Malta. It’s time to do an update so I thought I would let you know about another event that I just went to.

The host was the same, Jeremy is always an amazing host and never lets us down. This time he was able to find an excellent dealer so it helped make the game run smoothly. Most of the same players as last time attended, plus a couple of players who hadn’t been able to make it back then.

My Journey

Malta is a pretty small nation but my journey to Jeremy’s beautiful apartment with it’s amazing views is about as long a journey as it’s possible to make here. I live in Gozo, the second biggest inhabited island in the archipelago. I have to drive to the port at Mgarr and take a 25 minute ferry ride to the bigger island. It was a pretty blustery day so the ride was a fairly bumpy one. Once back on land, the drive is from one end of the island to the other – the ferry port is on the north coast while Jeremy lives in the village of Marsascala, way down south.

Ferry sailing on choppy sea
Gozo ferry on choppy seas

The Players

We had nine players in total for this home game. Most of the games we played used too many cards for nine players to be dealt into a hand, so various players took turns at sitting out. The host was away from the table preparing some delicious food. Other players took extended breaks, either because they felt totally exposed playing whatever poker variant had been chosen at the time or just to get a mental rest.

A former Poker Hall of Fame nominee was present for this one. One of the players holds two EPT spade trophies. Most of the players are regulars at mixed games home poker games but a couple have only dipped their toes in these waters a couple of times. Quite a few nationalities were present – Maltese (x3), Danish, Chinese, Finnish, Turkish, Belgian and English, plus an Italian dealer.

Poker trophy in the shape of a spade suit
One Player has Two of These Trophies

The Refreshments

I don’t know where to begin in describing the feast that Jeremy laid on. Whatever I write will not do it justice. There was hot pork, beef, chicken wings, garlic bread and potatoes. Cold meats, fruit, bread, dips, nuts, sweets. A choice of beers, wines, digestifs, coffee, tea, soft drinks and water. Food and drink were available throughout the twelve hours plus that we were there and there was always someone consuming something!

The Games

The first and last games were played 5 handed as we were awaiting the arrival of players or some had left early. This gave us opportunities to play games that we couldn’t play 8 handed.

As always, a player selected a game when the button was on him and we played that game for one orbit and one hand, then the next player in turn picked the following game. We place no restrictions on the games other than the number of cards in the deck and players on the table. These are the games we played:

  • Pot limit 6 card watermelon
  • PL Sviten special (four times)
  • PL 5 card Omaha
  • Limit 7 card stud hilo 8 or better
  • Limit badugi (twice)
  • No limit short deck hold em (twice)
  • PL 5 card Omaha hilo (twice)
  • PL Sviten special with jokers wild – 4 jokers added to the deck
  • Limit 2-7 triple draw lowball
  • Limit razz
  • PL superstud
  • Limit badeucy
  • PL 6 card Sviten special with one card open
  • PL Courchevel hilo
  • NL short deck Omaha (yes really!)

A few notes on some of the less well known games:

Pot Limit Watermelon

This is a version of pot limit omaha. Action follows the familiar pattern with two players posting blinds and betting intervals pre and post flop, after the turn and river. What is different is that there are three boards and if any player has the best hand at showdown on a majority of the boards they scoop the pot.

Personally speaking, I don’t like this game. The fact that you can easily come out with nothing even if you hold the nuts on one board means that players tend to be very cautious and it kills the action.

Sviten Special

This is my absolute favourite game, and one I have written a book about. It’s not available yet as I need to find a publisher. If you know of one please email me at martin@poker4leisure.com.

Sviten special is a combination of 5 card pot limit omaha and 5 card draw. Players get to change cards before the turn card is dealt. Imagine how many hands a guy can decide not to fold preflop? Five cards in a hand that is part omaha – and you get to change cards! This is why it is my favourite game – no one wants to spend all night folding hand after hand. It is the perfect example of a mixed games home poker game.

t-shirt bearing the image

Jokers Wild Games

In our home games, when we play wild card games we have a rule that if you hold two wild cards in your hand only one is usable. This prevents someone automatically knowing they have the nuts on whatever board and regardless of how the board might change.


This is a version of seven card stud hilo, eight or better. Players receive five cards and must discard two and turn one over. The first round of betting starts with two players posting blinds with action continuing clockwise. From fourth street onwards the highest hand showing gets to start the action. This is another game where a relatively large portion of starting hands are playable. Five cards tend to provide three connected cards or maybe a pair that can be hidden, providing a deceptively strong hand when the trips hit on a later street.

As there were so many players at the table, at times we didn’t have enough in the deck for everyone in the hand to get a seventh street. In this case the last card has to be a community card. Once we even had to deal both sixth and seventh as community cards!

View from above of a mixed games home poker table with cards and chips
Superstud hand with two community cards


This game is a combination of badugi and 2-7 triple draw lowball. Players start with five cards and get three chances to change cards. Unlike standard badugi, the ace is always high so the nuts for that half of the pot is 5432 rainbow.

Short Deck Omaha

I don’t know if we are the first people to ever play this variant! We removed the cards from 2 – 5 from the deck and played Omaha. We used the same betting structure commonly adopted for short deck hold em with everyone posting an ante and the button posting a further matching amount as a blind.

Pot of the Night

This was a Sviten special hand that started off pretty tame but exploded into action on the turn. Ultimately the pot contained around 4000 big blinds! On the turn, the board was 6642. Three players ended up all in on the turn and two of us had made a sizeable contribution but got out of the way when the betting got too hot. The showdown hands were: a Q high flush in the draw hand that contained a 6: one person with 64xxx and no real draw hand: and one guy with KKK33 for a monster draw hand.

The craziest thing about the hand apart from the huge setup was the fact the guy with KKK33 had changed all his five cards and hit that monster! Just a 693/1 chance of hitting that strength of a hand in any random five cards!

The two hands that had contributed but folded were strong draw hands – one was TTTxx and my hand was AAAxx.

view from above of a poker table with three five card hands and a board - one hand a flush, one a full house and the other with a monster hand on the board
Biggest pot of the night. Most of the chips had been pushed to the winners by the time the photo was taken

Funnily enough, the second biggest pot of the night (at a mere 1400 big blinds!) was also a sviten special hand. If you are a poker player and haven’t yet played that game you HAVE to get involved!

Goodnight / Good Morning

It was after 4am when the mixed games home poker game finally broke up, players cashed in, the dealer exchanged the chips in his tip box and the cards and chips put away. I had made a decent profit of around 700 big blinds and the biggest winner had taken just a bit more. Everyone, including the players who had lost money, had a great time. Whenever the next game is on… deal me in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *