# Poker with a Tarot Deck

I'm trying to figure out my own variant of Poker using a Tarot Deck. I want to have 5 and 7 card versions. I figure the most practical way to use the Major Arcana is to have consecutive Majors function as higher Pairs, 3 of a Kind, 4 of a Kind, etc. I think I want to have the Jokers either play below Jacks and above 10's or as Suited Wild Cards (I think the first option might be better). I think the Majors should plays as their own Suit with all ranks higher than Aces, so they don't contribute to any sets, straights, or flushes with Minors (the regular playing cards). The Fool (0) is the Majors' Ace, so it plays below The Magician (I) and above The World (XXI). Anyone have any suggestions? Aside from the obvious: just play regular Poker.

Ok, so I have an update, I've done some number crunching and have the probabilities for each 5 card hand. I haven't done any such work for higher order hands but might later (and might even try an 8 card variant, like in the book Last Call by Tim Powers).

For the following table, the Major Arcana are called Trumps, and a hand might be 5T for 5 Trumps (this is the Trump Flush) to NT (no Trumps)

Anyhow, the probabilities are as follows:
5T Straight Flush - 19
NT Straight Flush - 44
Total Straight Flushes 63

1T 4 of a Kind - 308
NT 4 of a Kind - 728
Total 4 of a Kind 1,036

Full House - 4,368

5T Flush - 26,315
NT Flush - 7,964
Total Flushes 34,279

NT Straight - 11,220

2T 3 of a Kind - 12,936
1T 3 of a Kind - 64,064
NT 3 of a Kind - 69,888
Total 3 of a Kind 146,888

1T 2 Pair - 72,027
NT 2 Pair - 157,248
Total 2 Pair 229,320

3T 1 Pair - 129,360
2T 1 Pair - 1,009,008
1T 1 Pair - 2,306,304
NT 1 Pair - 1,537,536
Total 1 Pair 4,982,208

4T No Pair - 409,640
3T No Pair - 2,242,240
2T No Pair - 5,381,376
1T No Pair - 5,637,632
NT No Pair - 2,030,820
Total No Pair 15,701,708

Total 5 Card Hands 21,111,090

There are a few circumstances that contradict Standard Poker odds, mainly that Flushes outnumber Straights. This is due to the additional suit of Trumps, 22 of them.

Another complication is that for 1 Pair and No Pair hands, 1 Trump is more common than No Trump.

The issue of Flushes outnumbering Straights could be resolved by only counting Straight Flushes in the Trumps Suit, with the 5 Trumps Flush instead becoming a 5 Trumps No Pair or High Card.

These new probabilities are as follows:
5T Straight Flush - 19
NT Straight Flush - 44
Total Straight Flushes 63

1T 4 of a Kind - 308
NT 4 of a Kind - 728
Total 4 of a Kind 1,036

Full House - 4,368

NT Flush - 7,964

NT Straight - 11,220

2T 3 of a Kind - 12,936
1T 3 of a Kind - 64,064
NT 3 of a Kind - 69,888
Total 3 of a Kind 146,888

1T 2 Pair - 72,027
NT 2 Pair - 157,248
Total 2 Pair 229,320

3T 1 Pair - 129,360
2T 1 Pair - 1,009,008
1T 1 Pair - 2,306,304
NT 1 Pair - 1,537,536
Total 1 Pair 4,982,208

5T No Pair - 26,315
4T No Pair - 409,640
3T No Pair - 2,242,240
2T No Pair - 5,381,376
1T No Pair - 5,637,632
NT No Pair - 2,030,820
Total No Pair 15,728,023

Total 5 Card Hands 21,111,090

Then the original hand ranking order is maintained, and the Trumps become additionally disadvantageous to have in your hand unless you have a Trumps Straight Flush which is still the highest hand in the game. The principal advantage to having the Trumps as higher cards is that they do not tie with each other, they are all different ranks and are all ranked above Aces, but cannot form Straights with Aces. So they can be very high cards but easily be beaten by pairs or other standard hands.

So, now my real question is:
Do I keep the Trumps Flush or making it a Trumps high card?
If I keep the Trumps Flush, do I demote the Flush under the Straight, or do I simply accept the mathematical issue of a higher ranked hand being more common than its lower neighbor?

Trumps High Card and Demoted Flushes both maintain mathematical regularity, while Trumps Flushes in regular position is more intuitive to regular Poker ranking. We can call Trumps Flushes Option 1.

Trumps High Card is mathematically regular, keeps ranks in order, but makes Trumps really counterintuitive because a Trumps Flush, arguably the highest non-Straight Flush, is below a Pair. We can call Trumps High Card Option 2.

Demoted Flushes is also mathematically regular, and relatively easy to learn, but still contradicts regular Poker ranking by swapping two ranks around. We can call Demoted Flushes Option 3.

So, anyone interested in adding in here, which option sounds best?

• I think it might be better if I use the Trumps a bit differently than I originally thought, keeping them as a Suit that doesn't contribute to Pairs, but getting rid of the runs as Pairs concept, so they can only make Flushes and Straight Flushes. This means they're easy high cards, and don't contribute to many ranked hands Oct 8, 2022 at 1:46
• I have seen this done but a full house killed the neighbor's dog.
– SDH
Jan 23, 2023 at 5:55
• Lol, I remember that joke! Jan 28, 2023 at 6:52
• @SDH There's more to this joke, but I can't remember it exactly. Something about a GF wanting a religious experience. Apr 11, 2023 at 17:21

It sounds like you have a clear idea of how you want to use the Tarot deck in your variant of Poker. Using the Major Arcana as a separate suit with their own ranking, and using them to represent higher ranked hands such as pairs and three-of-a-kind, is an interesting way to incorporate the Tarot elements into the game.

One suggestion for incorporating the Jokers into the game could be to use them as wild cards that can represent any card in the Tarot deck, including the Major Arcana. This would give them a high level of versatility and allow players to use them to complete higher ranked hands. Alternatively, you could use them as a separate suit, similar to the Major Arcana, but with a ranking below the Jacks and above the 10s.

It's also worth considering how you want to handle the Minor Arcana in the game. You could use them in the same way as a traditional Poker deck, with each suit ranking from Ace to 10 and the face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) representing the higher ranked hands. Alternatively, you could use them in a similar way to the Major Arcana, where they represent their own suit with a separate ranking.

Using the Trumps as a separate suit that doesn't contribute to pairs but can be used to make flushes and straight flushes is an interesting approach that could add an additional layer of strategy to the game. It allows players to try to build strong flushes or straight flushes with the Trumps, while still having the opportunity to form ranked hands with the Minor Arcana.

One potential issue with this approach is that it may make it more difficult for players to form ranked hands, since the Trumps cannot be used to form pairs or three-of-a-kind. This could make the game more reliant on flushes and straight flushes, and may make it harder for players to bluff or deceive their opponents. It's worth considering whether this is the desired effect for your variant of Poker, and whether you want to balance it out with other mechanics or rules.

Overall, it will be important to carefully consider the balance of the game and make sure that the rules are clear and easy to understand for all players.

• Most ranks are the same, with the small exception that there are more Major Arcana Flushes than Minor Arcana Flushes, but if Flushes are all counted as the same rank with the specifics only mattering for tiebreaker purposes, then the game is the same. I might still try to crunch the numbers for the Trump Straights as Pairs, 3 of a Kind, 4 of a Kind, and 5 of a Kind as an alternative. Then a Trump Straight Flush would be a 5 of a Kind (there's 19 of them, compared to the 44 regular Straight Flushes) Dec 19, 2022 at 23:37
• Also, small change: Straights and Flushes swap spots with the larger number of Trump Flushes. Dec 20, 2022 at 1:27