Introduction: Cube Poker

About: Retired from biotechnology company, PhD in Biochemistry (MIT).

This Instructable describes a cube for playing poker. You don’t have to solve a Rubik’s Cube® (Rubik’s Brand Ltd, now offered by Hasbro Gaming), you only have to mix it up! Step 1: Without looking, randomize the cube. Step 2: Open your eyes and read the “card” on the top edge. Step 3: Follow the blue pointer to the middle cubie and read the next “card”. (It may be topsy-turvy, but you’ll be able to read it.) Step 4: Follow the new, blue pointer to a corner cubie and read it. (It may be topsy-turvy, too, but you’ll be able to read it.) Now you have your “hand”. There are 3456 possible hands (24 edges x 6 centers x 24 corners = 3456). I almost forgot … you must take an oath of honesty (although you can still bluff when you play). Honestly record your hand after getting it, e.g. write it down on a hidden piece of paper (e.g. A-S/K-S/Q-S, where S = spades, H = hearts, D = diamonds, and C = clubs, and, obviously, A = ace, K = king, etc.). Better yet, take a picture of your cube on your phone or camera (not included!) as proof of what you got. You won’t have to do any of this if you are playing alone or if all players have a cube of their own. In the following Step, I’ll tell you how to make it; then, after that, I’ll tell you how to play.

Step 1: Materials

Buy a new Rubik’s cube. The new ones have plastic faces and a nice, smooth action. And a new one will be ready-to-go for this Instructable. (New ones cost only $7.00 or less, if you shop around.) You could use an old-style cube (with sticker faces), but you will have to peel off all the stickers and use some solvent to remove the glue residue. Next, get some permanent-style label sheets. I use Avery #8165 shipping labels, which are 8.5” x 11”. (I bought them at OfficeMax, but you could probably find them elsewhere, too.) I’ve provided the file in both Word and Pdf versions. Print out either file (Fig.1). Be sure to keep the backing paper on.

Optional (but recommended): make the faces smudge-resistant and shiny by using clear 2” packaging tape. First, cut the stickers crudely into strips, leaving a margin all around. Next, tack a piece of tape by one end onto the table top; use tape guidelines for where the 2”-width will be (Fig. 2). Then slide the strip under, between the marker tapes, and smooth it out with the clear tape on top (Fig. 3). If you screw up (it’s easy to get wrinkles), just print out a new sheet and start over.

Use a sharp pair of scissors or, better, a paper cutter to cut the sheet into little squares (Fig. 4). (Please watch those fingers!) Finally, take those little squares, peel off the backing papers, and sticker-up your cube (Fig. 5). When you do the stickering, be sure that the edge faces point inward (toward the center cubie); the center and corner faces may be in any orientation (they’re going to get mixed up anyway). You’ve probably noticed that the central faces have asterisks for suits. This indicates that the suit determination is ”wild”, i.e. you may declare it to be any one of the four options: spades, hearts, diamonds, or clubs.

Step 2:

Here’s how you play. You can have one or more players (usually more than one). Mutually decide on what the “units” will be. The units may be: poker chips (blue chips are 10, reds chips are 5), pennies, dimes, dollars(!), M&Ms, or ??? -- it’s up to you. Ante-up – usually one unit into the “pot”. Mix up the cube as described in the Introduction. Read it and record your “three-card hand” (again, see the Intro). Then pass the cube on to the next player. (You don’t have to pass it around if everyone has their own cube.) After everyone has their “hand” recorded, the betting begins and continues in the usual poker manner. Remember, those central cubies, with the asterisks, are wild with respect to their suits only and not to their values. Take turns starting off.

The ranks of the ‘hand” go as follows:

1st…...…three-of-a-kind, all the same suit (Fig. 1)

2nd……..three-of-a-kind, different suits (Fig. 2)

3rd……...three-“card” straight, all the same suit (Fig. 3)

4th………three-“card” straight, different suits (Fig. 4)

5th………flush (all the same suit) (Fig. 5)

6th………two-of-a-kind, both the same suit (Fig. 6)

7th………two-of-a-kind, different suits (Fig. 7)

8th………junk (Fig. 8)

A special note: here flushes are lower in value than straights because the suit is wild on the central cubie, and therefore flushes are more common. (This is atypical from normal poker rules.) Also note: a “two-card” straight or a “two-card” flush is nothing. In case of ties, go to the highest “card” first, then to the second highest, then to the third highest, e.g. K/A/Q, same suit, beats K/Q/J, same suit; and K/A/10, junk, beats A/K/9, junk. If still not resolved, go to the suit of the highest, then the 2nd highest, then the 3rd highest: spades beat hearts, which beat diamonds, which beat clubs (reverse alphabetical order), e.g. A-spade/A-wild/A-spade beats A-heart/A-wild/A-heart. In the case there is STILL a tie (unlikely), it’s a tie … split the pot. Of course, typically the high-hand wins the pot, as in real poker.

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