Irish Poker Rules – How to Play This Drinking Game


7 minutes

Posted by: Ivan


Just like many other social drinking games, Irish poker takes an element of poker and combines it with alcohol, and lots of it. This drinking game is one of the most entertaining and amusing party games you can try out.

Plus, it’s easy to pick up, and you can learn it within minutes, even if you already have a party brewing. All you need is a standard deck of cards and a few minutes to read this page. Here’s everything you need to know on how to play Irish poker.

Irish Poker Rules – How to Play Irish Poker

Before we move on, one important thing to note is that the Irish poker drinking game differs from Irish poker. The latter is a real poker game you can play for money, similar to Omaha and Texas Hold’em. It’s not something you’d want to play while drunk.

The Irish poker drinking game is a fun variation whose whole point is to entertain and get players drunk.

It is a great party game, as up to 13 players can participate with just one deck in the game. When you mix two decks, it can be a truly massive game for even the biggest house party.

This fun drinking game consists out of four rounds, so let’s take a closer look at each one, step-by-step:

Irish Poker: First Round

The first round starts with each of the participating players getting four cards, all face down. The player on the dealer’s left side is the first one to play. The first player has to guess his first face-down card’s color by choosing whether it’s red or black.

If you guess right, you get to pick two other players who have to drink. If you guess wrong, you need to take two drinks instead. After this, the action moves on to the next player, who also has to think about whether his first card is red or black.


This continues until all players are done with their first card. The first round is entirely luck-based, and there’s really no strategy that could help increase your chances of guessing right.

Irish Poker: Second Round

After the first round is completed, you move on to the second round and the second card in your hand. The first player on the dealer’s left starts off the round by deciding whether his second face-down card is lower or higher than the card he turned over in the previous round.

If you guess right, you can pick four players to drink. But, if you guess wrong, you’ll have to take four drinks.

Like with the first round, the action continues until all of the players have made their guess.

In standard Irish poker rules, aces are high, but you can decide to play them as low-value cards. Regardless of the poker hand ranking system you decide on, just make sure that everyone understands this to avoid drunken incidents.

Irish Poker Drinking Game: Third Round

The third round of Irish poker is a part of the game where you can use math and calculate certain cards’ probability.

You’ll likely be inebriated enough by this point that your brain won’t function at its full capacity, but give it your best shot.

In this round of “betting,” the player has to say whether his third (face-down) card is outside or in-between the values of his first two cards.

This can be the most interesting and exciting round of the game, as it does require a bit of thinking.

For instance, if your first cards are a trey and a jack, it’s best to guess that your third card will be in-between these two.

Things can get more complicated if the range is a bit narrower. For example, if your first two cards are a 4 and 8, and you guess inside, your third card must be 5, 6, or 7.

If you guess correctly, you get to pick six players who’ll take a drink. However, pick wrong, and you’re in for quick six shots, so choose carefully.

The Final Round

The fourth and final round of this entertaining drinking game is the toughest one on your liver, as you probably know what’s happening there.

Guess right, and you get to pick eight players. Pick a wrong option, and you get to enjoy eight consecutive drinks. So, what is this last round all about?


You need to choose what suit is your last card. Those who make it to this round will undoubtedly be completely intoxicated, and their decisions will likely be just plain guesses at this point.

Overall, the Irish poker drinking game is very alcohol-heavy, so don’t shy away from relaxing the rules a bit.

Taking eight drinks in a row, especially if they’re whiskey or tequila shots, isn’t something many people can handle.

With four rounds, there’s more than enough time for everyone to get drunk, even if you set a rule that everyone takes only one drink per the wrong guess.

A Few Tips for Playing Irish Poker Drinking Game

While having fun is much more important than coming out on top as the winner in Irish poker, watching your friends getting drunker and drunker each time you beat them can be entertaining on its own. With that in mind, here are a couple of tips that will help you be more successful in Irish poker:

  • Observe the Cards between Round 2 and 4 – While the first round is pretty much all guessing, on rounds two, three, and four, you can make educated guesses. For example, if the first card is nine or higher, go with a lower value. If it’s a seven or lower, you will have better winning odds if you go with a higher pick.
  • It’s Still a Mind Game – Even if you don’t prove to be successful in observing the cards, it’s still a poker game and, as such, comes with some psychological factors. You can try to incentivize other players to pick a particular player instead of yourself. Just be careful, as this can quickly turn against you, and you could end up the drunkest in the room.

Ride the Bus Drinking Game – Differences and Similarities

Irish poker rules are very similar to those of another popular drinking game called Ride the Bus. However, they vary in several vital aspects. That’s why we also want to take a closer look at this variation to discern the main differences and similarities.

So, let’s start with the most important thing, Ride the Bus rules.

This drinking game’s main goal is fairly simple – have the fewest cards at the end of the round.

The playing time of the Ride the Bus drinking game is around fifteen minutes, and you use one standard deck of 52 cards.

The game starts with the dealer setting up the table of cards face-down, or The Bus. He can do this by placing nine cards in a diamond pattern or placing ten cards in a non-overlapping triangle.


The dealer will then deal four cards to each player, beginning with one on the left side. He’ll leave the remaining cards in the pile to be used at the end of the round.

This is where the drinking part comes into play. As the dealer distributes the cards to each player, the player must answer four rounds of questions. If they answer right, they move to the second round. If they answer wrong, they must drink. The questions in each round are:

  1. What color is the card? (red/black)
  2. Is the card higher or lower?
  3. Is the card between or outside the previous two cards?
  4. What suit is the card?

The dealer will continue dealing after these rounds of questioning. Ultimately, when the last card from the table has been revealed and all of the remaining cards from the pile have been discarded, the game is over.

The player with most cards in their hand is the loser and must “ride the bus.” They must answer the above questions until they get all four answers correctly or end up completely drunk.

Enjoy Irish Poker – A Fun, Simple, and Lighthearted Drinking Game

Irish poker and Ride the Bus may not be the most popular poker variations in the world, but with the right company, they certainly are some of the most entertaining card games you can play.

You can enjoy them with or without alcohol, as they are excellent party games that can keep the excitement high throughout the evening.

That said, Irish poker is best and most entertaining when played with alcohol. You can use beer or even Irish whiskey if you and the other players can handle your drinks.

Remember the rules we shared with you on this page, and don’t forget to drink responsibly, and you’ll undoubtedly have an entertaining and enjoyable time playing this witty drinking game.

And, if you come up with some new and interesting twists to Irish poker rules, there is a poker forum out there full of players who’d love to hear all about it!

Ivan Potocki

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