Edmonds Hoyle, who died in 1769 aged nearly 100, wrote about Brag, although he had never heard of 99 percent of the games whose rules are set out in modern ‘Hoyles’. Brag is an ancestor of poker, and many textbooks still describe ‘classical’ Brag, although it is a game practically never played these days. However, many modern versions of Brag are played. The following version is perhaps the most popular.
The game is for three or more players, perhaps about six being the best number. The standard pack of 52 cards is used, the cards generally ranking from Ace (high) to 2, but with exceptions as detailed in the ranking of hands, given opposite. The object of the game is to win the pot by having the best hand remaining at the showdown. There are six classes of hand, as shown opposite.
The ranking of hands within each class, and the probabilities of each class of hand, are shown in Table 18 overleaf.
TABLE 18: The ranking of Brag hands
Ranking of Brag Hands
The Brag hands, with the number of possible such hands, and the percentage probability of being dealt them, are shown in Table 18. It will be seen there is an anomaly here, in that a running flush is slightly harder to get than a prial, although it is ranked lower. Over 90 per cent of hands produce no better than a pair.
Brag is a staking game and a minimum and maximum stake should be agreed beforehand. The maximum stake is not the maximum for a single bet or raise, but the maximum a player may bet on one hand. The length of time for the game should be agreed, and once the time is up the game should end as soon as all players have dealt an equal number of hands. It is also game where some schools prefer the cards to be shuffled between each deal and others not. A compromise is to agree a light shuffle.
Players cut the cards to determine first dealer, the holder of the highest card dealing. Dealer shuffles and the player to his right cuts. After each hand the deal passes to the left. Whatever has been agreed about shuffling, the cards should be cut before each deal. Before dealing, the dealer puts in the pot an initial stake between the agreed limits. He then deals the cards one at a time to each online poker player, including himself, starting on his left an ending when all players have three cards.
Betting and showdown
As stated, the dealer has put a stake into the pot. Beginning with the player to his left, and in rotation, each player, including the dealer, must do one of the following:
Once the stake has been raised, following players must equal it or raise it, and when the turn comes round to those who have already staked, they must equal or increase the stake, too. Unlike in poker, the betting does not necessarily stop once all players’ stakes are equal because the last raiser may rise again, provided the maximum stake for a hand has not been reached.
If there is a showdown, the player with the best Brag hand wins the pot if hands are tied, the pot is shared equally.
Some schools do not admit a prial of 3s as the best hand, but rank prials from Aces (high) to 2s (low). In addition, some schools do not allow a run of a, 2, 3 to beat A, K, Q. Instead of being the highest run, a, 2, 3 becomes the lowest.
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