Cincinnati isn’t just a city in Ohio. For poker players, it’s also the name of a popular poker variant played in home games. If it’s not already a part of your game rotation, you may want to consider adding Cincinnati Poker to the mix.

Traditionally, the game is played by dealing each player four down cards, just like in Omaha. Then you put out four community cards with a total of five betting rounds. 

Players use any combination of all eight cards to make their best five-card poker hand. Standard poker hand rankings apply.

With so many cards to choose from, big hands come up frequently.

Don’t be surprised to see lots of – 

  • Straights
  • Flushes
  • Full boats
  • Four-of-a-kinds

For those who want even more action take it to the next level by dealing five cards down and five cards up. 

In a fixed-limit format, players usually put up an ante, roughly 10 percent of the betting limit. 

If either no-limit or pot-limit is more your thing, you can adopt a blind format like No-Limit Texas Hold’em.

Betting Rounds in Cincinnati Poker

As mentioned above, there are five betting rounds in Cincinnati Poker. The first occurs preflop after players receive their hole cards. If played with an ante, the player left of the dealer acts first.

If blinds are in play, then the player left of the big blind goes first. Like most poker games, players can either check, bet or fold when playing Cincinnati Poker.

A subsequent betting round then takes place after each community card. After the fourth community card, a final round of betting takes place before the showdown

At that point, any players remaining in the hand reveal their hole card. Whoever makes the best five-card hand using any combination of their four down cards and four community cards will win the pot.


Like all poker games, you can put a twist on the betting rounds to suit your needs. Instead of having five rounds of betting, some home games will make it four. They take out the preflop round and go straight to the first card.

Similarly, some games will make it more like Hold’em by lowering it to four rounds of betting.

To do this, they simply put out two cards on the first community deal instead of one.

Cincinnati Poker Variants

While you could add a wild card to the mix, there’s no need when playing Cincinnati Poker as there’s already enough action. If you do play with wild cards, be sure to clarify the hand rankings. Sometimes players will add “five-of-a-kind” as the best possible hand, even above a Royal Flush.

West Cincinnati Poker is a slight deviation where players receive five hole cards. But there are still only four community cards for a total of nine cards from which to choose. Furthermore, the fourth and final community card is a wild card

Cincinnati Poker can be played as Hi-Lo for those fond of split-pot games, utilising the same rules as in Omaha Hi-Lo.

The Split-Pot version is not to be confused with “Low Hole Cincinnati Poker”. This format makes it so the lowest card in each player’s hand is a wild card for only them, along with any of the same rank. 

Say you look down at the two of spades. It becomes a wild card for you as well as, the other three deuces, whether they’re in your hand or on the board.

Cincinnati Poker Tips

Few games are as action-packed as Cincinnati Poker. So, you may want to keep the following in mind to increase your odds of winning.

  • Understand that Cincinnati Poker is a game of big hands. Don’t expect to win often with hands like a pair, two pair, or three-of-a-kind. With so many cards, the likelihood of straights and flushes increase dramatically. As such, these should be the baseline hands.
  • If you’re looking for a straight or flush, ensure your starting hand gives you a good chance of making either. Hands that line up like 8♥9♠10♦J♦ give you a great chance of making a straight. (You just need either a seven or queen to get there.)
  • For a flush, the more suits you have down, the better. It’s hard to make a flush when you have a hand like A♦K♠Q♣J♥. You have one of each suit and would need all four community cards in the same suit.
    • If you have two suited cards down, then you just need three from the community cards. If you have a hand like 3♥7♥9♥K♥ down, then all you need is one more to make a flush. If all four of your down cards are suited, it’s actually quite good. Especially if they line up in such a way that you also have a good shot at making a straight.
  • While straights and flushes are good, full houses and four-of-a-kind are better. To make such hands, you’ll need pairs. Hole cards containing either a pair or even two pair are decent.
    • But there’s real power to be had when you’re dealt either three or four-of-a-kind in the hole. Both are extremely rare, so when you do have them, it’ll be well disguised.

If you like lots of action, big hands, and juicy pots, Cincinnati Poker is the game for you!

Chad Holloway is a 2013 WSOP Bracelet winner who has previously worked for PokerNews as a managing editor and live reporter