The official rules for Buh
17Cg1
Cards
A betting game for two to eight players.

Conventions.
New terms introduced are in bold text. Sample hands and cards are in italicized text.
Introduction and summary.
Buh is actually a very simple game; the length of the rules before mostly deal with formal definitions and rare exceptions.

Here is a high-level view of Buh:

Buh is a betting game; all betting aspects of Buh work the same as they do in poker. Play is as follows: deal two cards, bet, deal one more card, bet, deal a final card (for a total of four), bet, draw, and then the final showdown. Hands are valued according to the pips of the cards they contain (ace is 1); however, face cards have no value, and a hand with nothing but face cards loses. Several cards of the same rank count as only one card, and a sequence of cards counts as only the card with the highest value. Flushes (all four cards the same suit) reduce the value of the hand to half its original value, rounded down. Ties are determined by comparing face cards (if any) in the hands. A hand with the lowest point value possible (1) automatically wins if the player declares it immediately after the deal.
Rules.
Buh is a betting game for two to eight players.

The deck is a standard fifty-two card deck. Each player is dealt two cards initially, followed by a round of betting, then another card, another round, a final card (for a total of four), and then another of betting.

Then a draw round occurs, where each player (starting from the dealer's left) is allowed to discard up to two cards (to a maximum of three if the last remaining card is an A; doing this is called a granny) in exchange for new cards off the deck. Electing to draw no cards is called standing pat, as in poker. After every player has had the opportunity to take cards, there is a final round of betting, and then a showdown, where the players determine which is the winning hand, based on its value. Betting is as in poker to a central pot, and includes an initial ante to be dealt in.

In the final showdown (after the final betting round is over and all those still in play have settled up), the winning hand is the one with the fewest number of points. Ace is worth 1 point and deuce through ten are worth the number of pips on the card (2 through 10 points). So, for example, the hand A 3 7 9 would be worth 1 + 3 + 7 + 9 = 20 points.

Face cards are special -- they do not have any value. The face cards in a hand are called the hooch; the non-hooch cards are called the normals. Of the hand 3 5 J K, the J and K are the hooch; since the hooch has no value, this hand is worth 3 + 5 = 8 points. A hand with nothing but hooch -- that is, a hand with four face cards -- is called a skunk and always loses to a non-skunk hand (two skunks constitute a tie and are handled as with any other tie; see below). For instance, a J Q Q K is a skunk and has no value, and will always lose in a showdown (but a player can still bluff on it).

There are some additional elements to valuing hands: A match -- a series of two or more non-hooch cards with the same rank -- only count as one card of that match. For example, the hand 3 3 5 5 would score 8 points, because it contains two matches (3 3, worth 3 points, and 5 5, worth 5 points).

A run -- a series of two or more non-hooch cards in sequential order -- only counts as much as the highest card of the run. So a hand of 2 3 5 6 would score 9 points (2 3, worth 3 points, and 5 6, worth 6 points).

Note that matches and runs can be in a mix; for instance, the hand 3 4 4 5 is worth only 5 points, because it contains a match (4 4) embedded in a run (3 4 5).

A hand with a point value of 1 (or less) is a special hand, called a buh. When a player is dealt a hand (even a partial one) that is a buh (has a point value of 1), he may declare it by laying down his hand and saying "Buh!" after he has received a deal, but before betting has started for that round (once betting has started, a player may not declare until the next deal). Declaring a buh automatically wins the pot; there is no showdown, even if another player also has a buh (but did not declare or did not have the opportunity to). For instance, after dealt three cards, A A J is a buh, but getting dealt a final 3 would yield A A 3 J, a hand which is worth 4 points is no longer a buh (and thus can no longer be declared).

There is one more special hand, the flush. This hand is when all four cards are of the same suit (even the hooch). A flush hand counts for half the points the hand would have normally, rounded down. So a 3 4 5 J, all of spades, would count for only 2 points (a run 3 4 5 is 5 points, which divided by two and rounded down is 2). An incomplete hand (with fewer than four cards) cannot be a flush, even when all of its cards are of the same suit.

A buh that is also a flush is a special hand, called a flush buh or a double buh. A double buh effectively has a value of 0 points, since it is 1 point for a buh, and halved (rounded down) due to the flush. A double buh beats all other hands, including a plain buh.

For ties -- two challenging hands with the same point value -- the hooch cards determine the winner. This is the only circumstance in which the values of the face cards in the hooch matter. A hand with no hooch cards in it is called a natural, and will always beat a hand with even one hooch card; for instance, A 2 3 4 will beat a 4 4 J Q. For equal-valued hands with hooch cards, the hand with the lowest and fewest hooch cards wins. So 2 4 J Q will beat 6 6 6 Q since J beats Q, but 4 4 7 J beats A 10 J Q because J beats J Q. The only natural non-flush buh hand is A A A A, which is called a star.

If, even after considering the hooch, two hands are still equal, then a choke is declared and the pot is split between the players (with any odd chips going to the player nearest the dealer, in the order of that deal). For instance, during the showdown, two hands of A 3 J K and 4 4 J K would lead to a choke, since they are both worth 4 points and also have the same hooch cards.

Hint.
Knowing how you fare in a game of Buh is difficult without knowing this: A hand worth 10 points or less is good, and a hand worth 5 points or less is very good.
History.
Here is a brief look at previous incarnations of the rules of Buh. Note that what follows are not the current rules, but rather rules that were added, modified, or removed.

  • Earlier, one could not mix matches and runs, so a hand like 4 5 6 6 would either have to be treated as the run 4 5 6 and a 6 or as a shorter run 4 5 and a match 6 6. This led to awkward situations where players had to do combinatorics in their head to figure out what the best choice was (it always only differed by one point). Mixes were allowed at this point to make things easier, and to allow more opportunities for matches and runs.

  • There used to be some confusion in the rules about how to compare the hooch for ties. It used to be based on the number of hooch cards first and the values of those cards afterwards, and through some inconsistency in the specification of the rules there was some ambiguity. Now it is based on the values of the cards only; this leads automatically to (all other things being equal) fewer cards being better.

  • Declaring used to be more complicated; it used to be the case that a player could only declare a buh he is holding when it is his first opportunity to bet during any given betting round (thus after a deal). This rule was difficult to describe and resulted in peculiarities depending on the order in which the hand was dealt. The current system requires players to declare a buh immediately after they are dealt it, as in blackjack.
Variants.
Short Buh
Instead of the standard deal, each player gets an initial deal of two cards, a betting round, and then a deal of two more cards at once, another betting round, and then then a draw round as usual.

Simple Buh
Each player is dealt two cards, followed by a round of betting, then two more cards, each with a round of betting after, and then the showdown.

Best Buh
Each player is dealt two cards, then three individual cards with betting rounds, for a total of five. After the final round of cards, each player discards one card to bring the total of each player's hand back to four, and then play continues as normal.

Stud Buh
Still played with a total of four cards, but of the initial deal of two, the first is dealt face down and the second is dealt face up. Each successive card is dealt face up for all to see.

Stud Buh With a Twist
As in Buh Stud but the final card is dealt face down, not face up.

California Buh
Each player is dealt only two cards, and then four cards are dealt face down in the center of the table, whose cards are common to all players who stay. Each center card is turned face up one at a time, followed by a betting round. In the final showdown, each player makes the best four-card combination out of their two cards and the center four cards.

Buh Now
Any player who can declare a buh and take the pot must. That is, when a player holds a buh and it is his opportunity to open, he must declare a buh, as opposed to being able to continue on even while holding a buh.

Snake
At any point a player is holding a buh in his hand, he may declare it and get the pot, even after another player has just bet or raised.
Credits.
Buh was created on 2000 Apr 15 by Erik Max Francis and Robert Zalot, and gradually refined over the card table during the following month or so. (Both contributed equally; Erik is listed first only because he wrote this document.)
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