Poker with Dollars (Serial Number Style)

So I was at a bar tonight and these guys sitting next to me were playing poker using the serial numbers on a stack of dollar bills. Actually, it was some dude in a suit playing his criminal defense lawyer - they have a big case together. Each hand was worth $20 and there was no raising or calling. One guy would go “I have three fours” and then the other guy would go “I have four aces” until someone said call. Then they would compare what they actually had and the winner would get the 20 bucks. So how does it work? Do you pick the best five numbers on the serial number? What consitutes and Ace? Are there Jacks, Queens, and Kings? Can you bluff anything - what matters is what you have when you call?

And as a side-note: if you want to impress the bar with how tough you are - don’t call your girl-friend to pick you up. At least pretend that you own your own car. :wally

I can’t remember exactly how this is played but if you read “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis, it will give you a pretty good idea. Great book.

Funny you should mention that. They played Liar’s Poker for $50 a hand at the end of the night. Off to google…

Ahh, a game dear to my heart.

The game is called Liar’s Poker. Aces are 1’s and 10’s are zeros. There are no “face cards” because a serial number is just numbers. Up to about 8ish people can play. Here is how the game works:
Serial numbers start with a letter. Whoever has the “highest” letter (A is higher than B, etc…) begins the bidding. A bid is a claim that the number of each “card” will be found between ALL the dollar bills of every player when the bidding ends. So if I bid three 5’s, then I’m claiming that between all the bills, there will be at least three 5’s. The next player must either call “bullshit” if he doesn’t believe that all bills will contain three 5’s, or bid higher. A higher bid consists of the same number of a higher number (with 0 being the highest as it represents a 10) or a greater number of any number. So, if someone bids “three 5’s” the next person must bid either three 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, etc… or 4
of any number. Like poker, high cards beat low cards, and four of a kind beats three of a kind.

At some point, let’s say around a bid of five of a kind in a two player game, somone will call “bullshit” because they don’t believe that both bills will have the number of “cards.” At that time, the serial numbers are revealed to see if the last bid was true. So if the bid is five 4’s and the next person calls bullshit, the serial numbers are revealed and if there are 5 4’s between all the bills, the bidder wins and takes everyones bill. If the bidder loses, he must pay everyone a dollar or whatever the betting bills were. So if player 1 has 3 fours in his serial number and player 2 has at least 2, the bidder wins.

Now the strategy works like this:

When you bid, the obvious guess is that your bidding on something that your bill contains. So if you bid 3 2’s, you probably have at least 2, hoping the other guy will have 1. On the other hand you can bid a number of “cards” that you don’t have in your hand hoping the other guy will feel comfortable upping the amount of that number at which time you can safely call “bullshit.” So if I bid 3 2’s, the opponent may suspect that I have at least 2 or 3 2’s on my bill. If he has one, he may feel comfortable upping the bid to 4 2’s. Since you have none, that’s a great time to call “bullshit.” You bluffed him into thinking you had 2’s.

I used to play it all the time. Against an unskilled player I could win probably 90% of the time. Against a skilled player I still won about 65% of the time. It’s a great game. Sorry for the overly complex explanation. If you have any questions let me know. Or if you want to play an example game for no money.

Whoops I left something out. In a game of three or more, the loser must pay the winner the bet amount for all the players. So if there are 6 players and each game is worth a dollar, the person who loses must pay the winner 6 dollars.

Obviously there are no flushes, but what about straights, two pairs, and full houses? And are hands restricted to 5 “cards”, or is, say, six of a kind valid?

Chronos: There are no straights, 2 pairs, etc. in the game.

No straights, two pairs, or full houses. The bests are always X(#) of a kind. Any amount can be bid as long as someone doesn’t call bullshit. I’ve seen 2 player games go up to 7 of a kind. Now with three player games it wouldn’t be unusual to see 9 of a kind because every bill’s numbers count towards the amount.

I used to play this often with friends. I’d find bills that had a large concentration of the same number on them and save them for the games. It really is a nice advantage. I found out that they were all doing the same thing. If anyone asks you to play, make sure that you have everyone randomly select bills.

What happens in a game of 3 or more when someone calls “bullshit”? Are all the other non-bidders required to live by this decision?

Player A: I bid 5 6’s.
Player B: Bullshit!
Player C: Looks at his bill, sees 5 6’s, and protests the he didn’t call bullshit. He knows the bidder would hit the mark.

Doesn’t matter since, acccording to ** Kid Charlemagne ** explanations, only player B will pay. Player C didn’t call bullshit but don’t lose anything, either.

In reference to toftdahl’s example, the late gambling author John Scarne recommended a rule that stipulated that a maximum of three 0’s, 1’s, etc. on each bill count towards the total number of 0’s, 1’s, etc., lest some sharper bring in a reserved bill that had a bunch of similar digits. If you had a bill that had, say, six 4’s, that would give you a big advantage if you made the first call.

As a side-note, i wasn’t aware that toughness was measured by vehicle ownership.

Also, if the person in question had had too much to drink, then calling someone to drive him home was exactly the right thing to do.

We now return you to your scheduled topic.

Correct. Player B will have to pay for everyone.

Wait a sec. When we play, all the others have to call Bullshit in order for the game to be over.


Player 1: 5 7’s
Player 2: Bullshit
Player 3: 6 7’s

Player 1: 7 7’s
Player 2: Bullshit
Player 3: Bullshit

Now it’s over and it’s Player 1 vs. the others. If you call a hand, you have to produce that hand until someone else calls a higher hand.

Your right. I haven’t played in 10 years but this is absolutely correct.

Yep, you’re absolutely correct and I retract that statement. I was just irritated at the guy for starting something at the end of the night.

In fact, there are a few “sharks” who carry around just such a bill. This game is very easy to be cheated at. Don’t play for real money (by “real” I mean- money that would annoy you to lose)