Palace Poker

OBJECTIVE OF PALACE POKER: Win the pot by having the best hand.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-10 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card deck

RANK OF CARDS: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2




Palace Poker is one of the most strategic variations of poker, and greatly reduces the amount of luck needed in gameplay. It has many elements similar to traditional Poker, but with a unique form of betting. This game is also referred to as Castle Poker or Banner Poker. 


The initial dealer is chosen by drawing cards. The player with the highest ranking cards acts as dealer first. Since the suits are not ranked, if two or more players happen to tie they continue to draw cards until a dealer is determined.

Banner Cards

Players must place an ante before being dealt their first card- this is the banner card. The ante is typically half the value of a small bet. The banner cards are dealt to each active player, one at a time, and face-up.

The deal of this cards is slow because each player must have a different suit (if there are 2-4 players). Ultimately, the dealer wants to maximize diversity in the suit.

The dealer starts with the player to their left, dealing them one card face-up. The dealer passes to the next person, they are dealt single cards until they have a card with a different suit than the first player, and so on. This continues until each player has a banner card of a different suit. Players 5-8 are treated as a different group, as are 9 and 10.

If the dealer runs out of cards before all the banner cards are successfully dealt, they must shuffle the discarded banner cards and continue the deal.

Palace Cards

Once the banner cards have been dealt, the dealer collects the remaining cards, shuffles them another 2 or 3 times and prepares for the next deal. Now, each player is to receive three cards, face-down, one at a time. The dealer begins with the first active player to their left. These cards are referred to as the palace cards. Players place their banner card long ways above their palace cards. The cards left in the deck are placed in the center of the table.


Gameplay starts with the player to the dealers left. A turn has five options: buy, discard, bet, stay, or fold. 


Buying or Drawing occurs when a player places a small bet in the pot and gets the top card from the middle drawing deck. This card is placed below the banner card and perpendicular to it. These cards are called soldier cards. Players can discard any number of soldier cards (players cannot have more than five) to the discard pile, including a card bought in the same turn. The discard pile is to the right of the deck in the middle of the table. In Palace Poker the discard pile is face-down.

If the draw deck runs dry, the dealer shuffles the discard pile and it is used as the new draw deck. If both the discard and the draw deck are exhausted buying is no longer an option.


Pay and draw no cards, just discard 1 or more soldier cards.


Unlike most poker games, this game gives players the opportunity to bet against specific players. If a player announces they wish to bet they must also announce who they wish to against. Typically players are identified by their banner cards. You are not allowed to bet against players who have a banner card of the same suit as you.

The minimum bet can be determined by this formula:

(# of Soldier Cards + Banner card) x Small Bet = Minimum bet

This is dependent on each player’s particular hand.

Bets are put in the main pot. So, the winner of the battle may not win the chips, unless they are the last player in the game.

If you are placing a bet against a player, you are the attacker and they are the defender. Defenders may fold, call, or raise.


If the defender chooses to fold, they place their palace cards in the discard. They place no more bets and are out of the hand. The attack gets their soldier and banner card(s), however, they still are not allowed to exceed five soldiers and can discard as many as they please.


If a defender calls they must put in: (# of Soldier Cards + Banner card) x Small Bet. When a defender calls the attack passes them their palace cards. The defender examines them and declares who won the bet or ‘battle.’ A winner is determined by using normal Poker Hand Rankings. The defender examines all the attacker’s cards, including their banner card, and figures out their best 5 card hand from there. If the defender believes they have won they pass their palace cards to the attacker for confirmation. The loser of the battle or bet is out of the game, the winner takes the soldier cards and the banner card. It is important to note, any card in hand that is the same as your opponents banner card cannot be counted toward the hand.

If the attacker and defender happen to tie, the player who has the most cards in their banner suit is the winner. If they still tie they are both out, unless they are the last two players in the game, then they split the pot.


The defender may also raise during a battle. They must first call according to the formula above and then:

  • Limit: raise a big bet or double the small bet (if they don’t have soldier cards)
  • No Limit: raise greater than or equal to the big bet

If there is a raise, the attacker can either

  • Fold and the defender keeps their raise. The attacker is out of the game and the defender gets their face-up cards.
  • Call
  • Re-raise

The player who calls last looks at the cards and decides a winner.


Do nothing and lose your turn, play continues to move left.

If players happen to stay, discard, then fold all in a row then the hand is over.


Players win the pot when they are the last one standing (to not fold). If there are two players left they must battle to determine a winner. But, if there are 2 or 3 players left with the same banner suit they DO NOT battle and the game is automatically over and the pot is split evenly.

In the event of the Stay/Discard/Fold sequence, there is a normal poker showdown and the highest hand wins the pot. If there is a tie, the pot is split.





Nakoa Davis

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