This article was originally posted to the Freelance Traveller website in April of 2002, and reprinted in the August 2013 issue.
Sekhoma is a card game known primarily in the Arcturan and Sylean regions of known space. It fits into the same social niche as the Terran card game of Poker, and has many elements in common, but the degree to which the two games are related is uncertain.
Sekhoma is played by two to six players, using a 72-card deck consisting of six suits each with the numbers one to six repeated twice in each suit. One player is initially designated dealer; deal rotates through the players each hand. The objective in each hand is to achieve the highest-ranked hand.
The dealer deals six cards face-down to each player. Before picking up their cards, each player antes a mutually agreed amount (usually one or two units, where a unit is the smallest amount of money that may be wagered on the game. Social games usually use a unit size of centicredits; casinos use units ranging from one credit upward), placing it in the center of the table. Players are given an opportunity to examine the cards dealt to them (which are kept concealed from the other players), and one round of betting takes place. The first player (the one to the dealer’s immediate left) announces “bet” or “no bet”, and if “bet” is announced, includes the amount bet, and places that amount in the center of the table with the antes. Betting then continues to the left, with each player having the following options:
- “Call” - The player announces “call” and places an amount equal to all prior bets and raises in the center of the table, and remains in the game.
- “Raise” - The player announces “raise” and an amount of an additional bet, and places an amount equal to all prior bets and raises, plus his additional bet. Players preceding him in the round must immediately add the raise amount to the center of the table, or “fold”, forfeiting all monies bet during the hand.
- “Fold” - The player drops out of the game for the remainder of the deal, forfeiting any monies wagered in the hand.
After each player has had one opportunity to bet, raise, call, or fold, the player to the dealer's left may exchange up to four cards. The discarded cards are placed face-down on the table, and the dealer deals an equivalent number from the remainder of the deck. Play proceeds to the left, with each player exchanging up to four cards. After all players have had the opportunity to exchange cards, a second round of betting occurs, following the same rules as the first. After all players have had the opportunity to bet, raise, call, or fold, all hands are revealed, and the player with the highest ranking hand collects all monies in the center of the table. The player to the dealer’s left becomes the dealer for the next hand. Play continues as long as desired. In casino play, games are generally continuous, with players allowed to drop out or enter at any time (provided that no more than six are playing at any time); home play generally allows dropping out but not joining.
Hands in Sekhoma are ranked as shown below. In case of ties, the sum of the values of the cards that make up the scoring portion of the hand are compared, and the higher value wins.
One Pair: two cards of the same suit.
Two Pair: two pairs, of different suits.
Three of a Kind: three cards of the same suit.
Three and a Pair: a three-of-a-kind, and a pair, of different suits.
Two Threes: two three-of-a-kinds, of different suits.
Three Pair: three pairs, of different suits.
Sekhoma: one card of each suit.
Four of a Kind: four cards of the same suit.
Four and a Pair: a four-of-a-kind and a pair.
Five of a Kind: five cards of the same suit.
Flush: six cards of the same suit.
In some areas where Sekhoma is popular, in addition to normal play for casino stakes, there is a fast-play casino variant where the player and the dealer compete against each other individually (though the dealer will usually be playing against several players at once): Fiddler-Crab Sekhoma.
The player offers the bet, and nine cards are dealt to each. Each then divides the nine cards into a “Large Hand” of six cards, and a “Small Hand” of three cards. After both player and dealer have divided their hands, both show both hands. The Large Hand is compared to the Large Hand; the Small Hand is compared to the Small Hand. The results are as follows:
If both of a player’s hands outrank the dealer’s, the player wins, with a payoff twice his bet (that is, on a 10Cr bet, the player retains his 10Cr, and receives 20Cr).
If the player’s Large Hand outranks the dealer’s, but the Small Hand does not: The player wins, with a payoff equal to his bet (that is, on a 10Cr bet, he retains his 10Cr, and receives 10Cr).
If the player’s Small Hand outranks the dealer’s, but the Large Hand does not: This is a ‘push’, and no payoff is made, nor is the bet lost. Depending on house rules, the player may be required to let the bet ride on a new hand, or may be permitted to withdraw the bet without penalty.
If both of a player’s hands are inferior to the dealer’s, the dealer wins and collects the bet for the house.
Hands are compared on the basis of the Sekhoma hand ranking; all Sekhoma hands are possible in the Large Hand, but only Pair and Three-of-a-Kind are possible for the Small Hand. Unlike standard Sekhoma, the showdown does not take into account the rank of cards making up a hand; if the two hands are of the same type (e.g., both are four-and-a-pair, or both are Sekhomas), the dealer wins. It is common, but not universal, for the house rules to require the dealer to make the best Large Hand possible, even if this results in a poor Small Hand.