PokerStars is trying to make draw poker hip again. Well, not exactly, but the poker site’s gimmicky new game — Swap Hold’em — allows players to swap one or both hole cards in hopes of getting a better starting hand.
In this five-card draw poker game, the goal is to make the best possible poker hand. Players can switch out all or none of the cards they have been dealt. And unlike in Texas hold’em, there are no community cards.
There are still some semi-popular draw games around, such as 2-7 triple draw, but most of those cash games are spread as part of a mixed-poker game, and made hands differ from those in Texas hold’em or traditional draw poker.
That said, Swap Hold’em isn’t technically a draw poker game. Instead, PokerStars created a draw poker/Texas Hold’em hybrid that some players might just find interesting.
A New Gimmick
Swap Hold’em is a new option on Stars’ games menu that is played mostly like Texas Hold’em, but with a draw poker component.
Like in standard hold’em, each player is first dealt two hole cards. But instead of immediately jumping into the first round of betting, Swap Hold’em gives each player an opportunity to replace one or both hole cards. So, if you’re dealt a weak hand such as 7-2, you can send those cards into the muck and receive two new cards.
Or, let’s say you are dealt a weak ace (A-2, for example). You can get rid of the deuce in exchange for another card, possibly a second ace or a bigger kicker.
Each player is required to swap at least one card before folding. After the card swapping round concludes, the hand is played exactly like a traditional Texas hold’em game. You can only swap cards right off the bat, so if you completely miss the flop, you’re stuck with that hand.
All Swap Hold’em games are played as six-handed cash games. The limits available range from $0.02/$0.05 up to $5/$10.
The game is clearly a gimmick as PokerStars, which just hosted one of the biggest online poker events in history, is always looking for ways to spice things up and create innovative games. We’ll find out in the coming months if Swap Hold’em sticks or if it flops like many other online poker gimmicks.