If you’re ready to spice up your next poker night with a new variant of the game, it’s time to learn how to play Irish Poker. We’ll walk you through the rules and introduce you to a few strategies to help you win big pots. And don’t worry, we’ll also cover the Irish Poker drinking game.

What Is Irish Poker?

If you’re getting bored at the tables, you’re either losing money or playing the same poker game for way too long. That’s where Irish Poker comes in. This is a variant of the game that blends Texas hold ’em and Omaha rules while adding a unique twist. So, if you’re looking for new challenges and ways to break the routine, Irish Poker is definitely worth exploring.

This version of the game is also becoming increasingly popular in online poker rooms. Today you’ll find Irish Poker online in the form of live tournaments and cash games. The variant is also suitable for home games. Whatever avenue you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a thrilling and fun time.

Of course, it always pays off to have a new strategy before you start playing. It’s equally important to know the stakes and plan accordingly in advance. After all, bankroll management is one of the game’s most critical aspects.

How to Play Irish Poker?

When you start getting acquainted with Irish Poker, you’ll immediately notice similarities with Omaha and Texas hold ’em rules. It begins with your regular small blind from the dealer’s left, and the game continues clockwise.

Just like in Omaha, each of the players receive four cards in the initial deal. This starts the first round of pre-flop betting. The rules are the same as with Hold ’em if you are playing the pot-limit format instead of the no-limit one.

After the bets are placed in Irish poker, the rules are straightforward. The dealer deals out the flop. Three cards are dealt faceup to serve as community cards. Then comes the next round of betting, followed by the twist that makes Irish Poker Irish.

The Twist

At this point, all active players must give up two of their four cards.

This will bring the game closer to Texas hold ’em, as players continue through the turn and the river with two cards in their hands.

Players can use any combination of community and hole cards when it’s showdown time to make their shot at the pot. Just like with Hold ’em, in an Irish poker card game, you can use two, one, or none of the cards you have in your hands for the win.

That’s all you need to know to play Irish Poker. Aside from the fact that you have to discard two cards, the rules are almost identical to Omaha. Still, this minor change may require you to make significant adjustments to your poker strategy. Here are some tips on what to hold and what to discard.

Irish Poker Strategies

To improve your chances of winning in Irish Poker requires a good understanding of the situation and knowing which cards to discard. There are no analysis charts you can turn to. The list of possibilities is almost endless, and the appropriate Irish Poker strategy is determined by individual circumstances.

Keeping an eye on your opponents at all times is also paramount. As always, you’ll have to make predictions about which cards they are holding and which they have discarded.

A winning scenario typically involves coming into the flop with a solid hand such as a straight, a flush, or two pairs. Staying away from weaker hands is also advisable. In Irish Poker, the top pair is not the best pair to have in your hands, especially if you are playing a multi-pot. If that’s all you can get for the final round, make sure the price is right to justify not folding.

There is also another version of this game that doesn’t involve any money and is all about having a good time. The key ingredient is alcohol, and of course, Irish Poker rules for this variant are a little different. So, if you turn up at an Irish Poker party, and the variant chosen for the evening is the drinking game, here are a few things you need to know to help you stay on your feet.

Drinking Game Rules

This variation is a lot closer to the Ride the Bus drinking game than the Irish Poker components covered above. So if you want to spice up your party with the Irish Poker drinking game or Ride the Bus variant, here is what you’ll need:

  • A deck of cards
  • 3-6 players
  • A lot of alcohol of your choice
  • 999 on speed dial (optional)

From there, you create “the bus.” You deal two rows of four facedown cards in the middle of the table, and then you deal another four cards, face down, to all the players. With that, the setup is complete, and the game can begin.

So how exactly does one play this Irish drinking game?

Starting from the left of the person that has dealt the cards, each of the players must try and guess what sort of cards they’ve been dealt. There are four different rounds of guessing:

  • First round: Colour of the card (black/red)
  • Second round: Higher or lower (guess whether the second card is higher or lower than the previous one)
  • Third round: In between or outside (whether the third card is between the value of the first two cards or outside the scope)
  • Fourth round: Suit of the fourth card.

When you guess right, other players have to drink. When you get it wrong, you have to drink.

Since there are four rounds per player, the value of the right or wrong guess scales with each round. In the first round of this Irish poker drinking game, the player gets to either drink two drinks, give those two drinks to another player, or spread it across multiple players.

The second round involves four drinks per guess, the third one has six, and the fourth has eight drinks. If you make it to the fourth round and guess wrong, you better be able to hold your liquor.

The last round moves the game to the board with the two rows of cards or the “bus.” The top row is “give,” while the bottom is the “take” row. Whether players get to drink or not depends on the cards they have in their hands.

The first card from the top row starts the Irish poker’s “Ride the Bus” part. When the card is flipped, the player holding the same card hands out two drinks. The next card in the top row enables the player with the same card in their hands to hand out four drinks, the third card six, and the fourth eight.

The bottom row is much more fun, though, since it’s the take row. The same rules apply as they did for the top row, except in this round, the player who has the card in their hands gets to “take,” aka drink.

Let the Games Begin!

Now that you know how to play Irish poker and the drinking game, you can include either in your next poker night. After all, you’ll either win big or have a blast. Both variations of the game are undoubtedly entertaining, and your pick comes down to your mood and preferences.


1. How many cards are there in Irish Poker?

Irish Poker is played with a deck of 52 cards, with four cards dealt out to each player. This poker variant is similar to Omaha, but you’ll have to discard two of your cards after the first flip.

2. Is Irish Poker a drinking game?

Irish Poker refers to both a drinking game and a variant of Texas hold ’em and Omaha. It’s probably a good idea to know ahead of time which version of the game you’re walking into.

3. How do you ride the bus in Irish Poker?

“The bus” in Irish Poker stands for the two rows with four facedown cards that the dealer places on the board at the beginning of the game. The final round of the Irish poker drinking game is when players compare the four cards they have in their hands with the cards from the “bus.” If any of the cards match, the player gets to either give the drinks to other players (based on cards in the top row) or to drink themselves (based on the cards in the bottom row.)