POKER LIFESTYLE

Pass The Trash Explained: How to Play, Win, and Enjoy This Fun Poker Variation

By David Huber
February 10, 2024

Pass The Trash is a poker variant that can be extremely fun to play in a casual, friendly environment – especially in a Fixed Limit format at micro-stakes poker levels. Replete with betting rounds, opportunities to improve one’s hand, and relatively strong showdown poker hand rankings, Pass The Trash has the potential for a lot of large pots that are satisfying for the eventual winner of a hand to haul in and add to his or her chip stack.

In this article, we’ll explore the rules of Pass The Trash poker, make mention of a few basic playing tips, and promote the variant as a way to put some spice into your home game or play on-the-fly among family and friends in a low stakes setting.

pass the trash

How to Play Pass The Trash Poker – The Rules

As long as you’re not dealing seven face-down cards to each player, Pass The Trash rules can accommodate up to seven players in a single hand.

  • All players place an ante into the pot before any cards are dealt.
  • The dealer then deals one card, face-down to each player.
  • Each player is allowed to look at all face-down cards in that player’s possession, but cannot see any of the other players’ face-down holdings.
  • A betting round ensures, starting clockwise with the player who is seated left of the dealer. The first player can check or bet, and each player after that has a corresponding option of whether to check behind, or bet, call, raise, or fold depending on the preceding players’ actions.
  • A second face-down card is dealt to each player. Each player evaluates their respective hands, and must pass a single card to the player seated to the immediate left of that player. Another betting round begins.
  • A third face-down card is dealt to each player. Once again, each player must simultaneously pass a single card from their holdings on to the next player who is seated to the immediate left. One important thing to keep in mind is that each player must actually pass a card before that player is allowed to look at the face-down card that has been passed by the opponent seated to the right.
  • Another betting round occurs, and each player remaining in the hand now has three face-down cards that can be seen.
  • The dealer deals a fourth card to each player remaining in the hand, another single card is passed, face-down by each player, and then each remaining player incorporates the passed card into his or her own hand. Another betting round occurs.
  • If there are two or more players who are still competing for the pot, the dealer deals a fifth face-down card to each player, and another single card is passed. Remaining players may look at the passed card only when they have themselves passed one of their cards to the opponent seated immediately on their left.
  • Each remaining player’s hand is now complete. At this time, another betting round occurs with all players who remain in the pot aware of their own 5-card poker hand.
  • Depending on the structure of how you play Pass The Trash, there are now two options for how to proceed.
  • All players can, at this time, turn over all five cards face-up, with the pot awarded to the player who has the strongest 5-card poker hand -OR- players can place their five cards in a face-down stack – revealing one at a time with a betting round occurring after each single card is flipped.
  • Once all five cards are face-up for all remaining players, the player with the strongest 5-card poker hand wins the entire pot.

Pass The Trash Card Game: Sample Hand

Player 1: (posts ante of $0.01)
Player 2: (posts ante of $0.01)
Player 3: (posts ante of $0.01)

The dealer deals one card face-down to each player.

Player 1: (Ks)
Player 2: (As)
Player 3: (Ts)

Player 1 bets $0.02.
Player 2 calls $0.02.
Player 3 calls $0.02.

The total pot is now $0.09.

The dealer deals a second card face-down to each remaining player.

Player 1: (Ks-2h)
Player 2: (As-Kh)
Player 3: (Ts-9s)

Player 1 passes the 2 of hearts to the player to the immediate left (Player 2).
Player 2 passes the King of hearts to the player to the immediate left (Player 3).
Player 3 passes the 9 of spades to the player on the immediate left (Player 1).

Player 1: (Ks-9s)
Player 2: (As-2h)
Player 3: (Ts-Kh)

Player 1 bets $0.02.
Player 2 calls $0.02.
Player 3 calls $0.02.

The total pot is now $0.15.

The dealer deals a third card face-down to each remaining player.

Player 1: (Ks-9s-2d)
Player 2: (As-2h-Ah)
Player 3: (Ts-Kh-5d)

Player 1 passes the 2 of diamonds to the player to the immediate left (Player 2).
Player 2 passes the 2 of hearts to the player to the immediate left (Player 3).
Player 3 passes the 5 of diamonds to the player to the immediate left (Player 1).

Player 1: (Ks-9s-5d)
Player 2: (As-Ah-2d)
Player 3: (Ts-Kh-2h)

Player 1 checks.
Player 2 bets $0.02.
Player 3 calls $0.02.
Player 1 folds.

The total pot is now $0.19 and there are only two players remaining in the hand.

The dealer deals a fourth card to each of the two remaining players.

Player 2: (As-Ah-2d-6s)
Player 3: (Ts-Kh-2h-Td)

Player 2 passes the 2 of diamonds to Player 3.
Player 3 passes the 2 of hearts to Player 2.

Player 2: (As-Ah-6s-2h)
Player 3: (Ts-Td-Kh-2d)

The bet size increases to double its original size.

Player 2 bets $0.04.
Player 3 calls $0.04.

The total pot is now $0.27.

The dealer deals a fifth card face-down to the two remaining players.

Player 2: (As-Ah-6s-2h-Tc)
Player 3: (Ts-Td-Kh-2d-2c)

Player 2 passes the 2 of hearts (face down) to Player 3.
Player 3 passes the King of hearts (face down) to Player 2.

Player 2: (As-Ah-Kh-Tc-6s)
Player 3: (Ts-Td-2d-2c-2h)

Player 2 bets $0.04.
Player 3 raises to $0.08.
Player 2 calls $0.08.

There is now a total of $0.43 in the pot.

Player 2 shows One Pair: Aces with King, Ten, Six kickers.
Player 3 shows a Full House: Twos over Tens.

Player 3 wins the total pot of $0.43 and the hand concludes.

Another variation of Pass The Trash would include more rounds of betting as each player remaining in the hand reveals their face-down cards one by one. However, any player who knows that he or she cannot showdown a superior hand to what an opponent has already turned over when using this structure will most likely fold.

Pass The Trash: Perfect for a Low Stakes Casual Atmosphere

The Pass The Trash poker variant is ideal for casual, low stakes games where players can accumulate a mountain of chips upon winning two or more hands in a row.

The fair chip distribution recommendations  for low stakes games also apply to Pass The Trash, since you will more than likely be playing this game in a Fixed Limit format.

Pass The Trash can also be played comfortably from a rectangular or other oblong-shaped poker tables (such as those situated within a kitchen, dining area, or dedicated game room) without taking away from the experience. Chances are that if you already have a professional poker table or high-dollar poker table top, you’re using it to play more popular “community card” games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

One more aspect about Pass The Trash poker is that the game is so casual that you might not need a dedicated dealer position, as players can alternate the task of shuffling for and dealing each hand.

Should Players always “Pass” The Lowest Card?

Assuming no flush or straight possibilities, the general tendency for newer players is to “pass” the lowest ranking card on to their opponent.

While this can be a solid strategy, players should also keep in mind that their opponents might use this same strategy – resulting in occasions where a single player can watch a pair or three of a kind slip away.

Unlike most Draw Games in poker, most Pass The Trash structures only allow each player to “pass” one single card at a time. If you’re lucky, you may pair one of your lower cards (or even get three of a kind “passed” to you when players incorporate basic strategy.

High Degree of Luck in Pass The Trash Poker Games

Players are severely limited in their abilities to incorporate skill into Fixed Limit formatted Pass The Trash games. So much of each player’s hand will depend on what gets passed to them along with the face-down cards that are dealt to them one at a time.

Because of this, a Pass The Trash home game can be highly attractive to casual players looking to decrease their strategic advantage over more experienced players. As long as the stakes are low enough, it is easily possible for every player in the game to be able to enjoy hours of in-person gameplay on a budget as low as $5-$10 per session.

It’s also easier – given the casual, Fixed Limit setting – to ask guests if they would be willing to bring food and refreshments with them upon attending a Pass The Trash poker home game.

Poker games that bring with them a high degree of luck along with a low stakes environment are also much easier to manage when it comes to player questions regarding the rules, awarding of pots, and misdeals.

Pass The Trash: Maximum of Ten Players?

Since there are only 52 cards in a standard poker deck (after discarding the jokers), the maximum number of players who can play a single Pass The Trash poker hand is actually ten. Keep in mind that this will take away the dealer’s ability to “burn” any cards.

With that said, the typical maximum number of players allowed for a Pass The Trash game is seven, which will leave plenty of cards left over in the dealer’s hand once all the action has concluded.

Having more than seven players will likely cause a lot of unnecessary time for each hand to conclude – which could leave players who have already folded out of the action for an extended period of time.

It might be a good idea to only play with more than seven players seated at the table when you have an alternative form of entertainment (like a sports contest) playing within view of the poker table. This will give players who fold early an opportunity to focus on the sports game (and probably halt the action at the table altogether if the game is close or if there’s a big play being replayed on the screen).

Play Poker for Fun and Leisure

While there’s no “points” system in Pass The Trash (since there’s an actual pot that accumulates and gets awarded at the conclusion of each hand), the game is still lots of fun and mimics card playing action that you might see in a family setting.

Grab that coffee can filled with pennies and nickels, and gather around the table in a family setting for hours of fun and conversation. You can play Pass The Trash leisurely without much fuss about strategy as long as the stakes are low enough.

Playing poker for fun is a great way to socially gather, as well as a wonderful way to learn a thing or two about poker strategy while you’re at it!

Have fun playing Pass The Trash poker!

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David Huber poker author
Written By.

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for close to two decades: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as “dhubermex” online, David’s poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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