Hi-Lo Atlanta Updated 12 Dec 2018
Never Play High or Low Chicago Ė Play Hi-Lo Atlanta If You Must
I love to play poker. I have since I was a kid. When I was an enlisted soldier in the early 1970ís I played a lot of poker when I lived in the barracks. One game that we played a lot was High Chicago (and Low Chicago). High Chicago is Seven Card Stud with the caveat that the person who has the highest spade in the hole (a down card) gets half the pot. So if you get the ace of spades as a down card you have a lock on half the pot. Bet like crazy!
Low Chicago is similar in that the person with the lowest spade in the hole gets half the post. A great payday if you get the two of spades in the hole!
My guess is the game was invented by a card hustler who lived on the north side of Chicago in the roaring twenties. Soon the south side hustlers picked up on it and created Low Chicago. The game soon spread to the rest of the country. Why? Because it is an easy game for card sharks to cheat at and get half a pot.
Half the pot for a single card is quite an advantage. And for a card shark itís a great game. He only has to control a single card as opposed to a whole hand of five cards. I have been in card games where the dealer would bottom deal himself the winning spade. Not what I would call a fair poker game at all! I havenít allowed High or Low Chicago to be played in my home games since 2007.
Even if the dealing is fair, the problem is that if someone gets the ace of spades in the first two down cards he will bet the maximum and drive up the betting as far as he can as he cannot loose. Half the pot is his and he may win the entire pot if he ends up with the high hand as well. This tilts the game way off.
Some people love to play High Chicago. They like the idea of a built-in lotto ticket that always wins. If you have some in your crowd that want to play High Chicago but others donít, hereís a compromise game that is fair to all. I call it Hi-Lo Atlanta and I invented it in January 2014.
Hi-Lo Atlanta is a game of regular Seven Card Stud. Everything is the same until the last down card is dealt. Once all active players have their last down card the dealer announces that he is going to deal the ďCallerĒ. The Caller card determines which suit will be golden and if the game is high or low for the hole card.
The dealer burns a card (important!) then flips over the next card and puts it in the center. This is the Caller card. Now the final round of betting takes place.
If the Caller is a 7 or lower the game is Lo Atlanta. If the card is a 9 or higher the game is Hi Atlanta. Aces are high. If the card is an 8 the game is Lo Atlanta if the card is the 8 of spades or the 8 of clubs. If the 8 is a heart or a diamond the game is Hi Atlanta.
The suit of the Caller card determines which suit will be golden for the high or low hole card. So if the Caller card is the 10 of diamonds the game is Hi Atlanta and the person with the highest diamond in the hole gets half the pot. If the Caller card is the 3 of clubs the game in Lo Atlanta and the person with the lowest club in the hole gets half the pot.
Hi-Lo Atlanta is still a crazy game as a single card will get half the pot. Thatís not really poker. No one knows until all the cards are dealt which suit will be golden and if it is the high or low card of that suit that wins. That helps keeping the game fair and causing card sharps to refrain from cheating. The Caller card itself has reduced the possible high or low cards by one. In fact, it is now more likely that no one will have any of the golden suit in the hole as players wonít hang around with garbage hands and the high hand will get the entire pot.
Oh, I don't allow Hi-Lo Atlanta in my home game either!