Criss Cross: New (to me) Game Strategy

jbutler

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after a few weeks of being too busy to play my regular tues/thurs night game i made my return tonight to find a new game added to the mix: criss cross.

the game proceeds as follows:

- each player is dealt four hole cards
- a betting round occurs beginning to the left of the button (there are no blinds or antes)
- each betting round is force bet; i.e., you must either bet, call, raise, or fold - no checking
- after the first betting round, the board is dealt - five cards in a cross pattern as pictured below - and one of the four outer cards is turned face up

lIDWXup.jpg


- another betting round then occurs, but action begins on the player two to the left of the button (i.e., the person who was previously second to act)
- after the second betting round, a second card is turned face up; the card turns must be clockwise or counterclockwise from the first (i.e., it can't be across the center card)
- a third betting round occurs; again, action begins on the person who would previously have been second to act (i.e., now the third player to the left of the button)
- a third card is then turned face up, moving around the outer cards in whatever direction the dealer moved previously (i.e., the card across from the first card turned)
- another betting round, action beginning on the fourth player to the left of the button
- a fourth card is turned - the final outer card
- another betting round, action beginning on the fifth player to the left of the button
- the final card - center - is turned
- a final betting round occurs, action beginning on the sixth player to the left of the button
- the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand - 8 or better - playing either the vertical or the horizontal board
- players can use 2, 3, or all 4 cards

the betting limits in our game are $5/5/5/10/10/20 and caps at five bets when the pot is multi-way (unlimited raises heads-up).

i don't know if the above structure is common with criss cross (particularly the constant positional changes) and this being my first time with the game, i spaced out a couple of times forgetting i could play 3 or 4 cards.

obviously i have to be more careful to simply be mindful of the changes i am otherwise not accustomed to, but beyond that, i'd love to hear from anyone who either: (1) has enough experience with this game in particular to feel comfortable recommending some basic strategy or considerations which ought to be kept in mind; or (2) has enough time and curiosity to think on the above structure from a theoretical standpoint and wants to throw out some ideas.

a couple preliminary thoughts after playing probably 70 or so hands (it was part of a rotation):

- like O8, when played for low stakes on a fullish table with a wiley group who take a lot of hands through at least the first two or three cheap streets, you must be extremely selective preflop
- the best hands will be four to a flush or four smooth to a straight; the next tier will be three to a flush, three smooth to a straight, and three of a kind; the third tier will be double-paired hands with a high pair which will reasonably often be best by the end of the hand as simply two pair

i'm particularly interested in thinking about how the positional changes and force betting aspects should influence my typical thinking about positional tightness and looseness. i'm also starting to think through how my turn/river calling ranges ought to change in light of the force bet structure considering the showdown-happy nature of typical home and underground games.

anyway, anyone have any thoughts? i really loved the game and look forward to trying some different tactics.
 

snooptodd

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I've heard it called Southern Cross. Never played with the force bets, that's an interesting innovation.
 

Irish

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We had a guy who introduced this into our cash games a few years ago, called it the Iron Cross. Fun game, lots of action. I've heard it's now being dealt down in a couple of casinos in AC now as well.
 

Tommy

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I've played this game before with some old timers when I lived in South Philly. They dealt two boards and called double criss cross. Game creates lots of action.

sent from my phone
 

guinness

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Our weekly Wednesday mix game TWENTY years ago called this Kings Cross (we used antes). I think the official name is Iron Cross. As long as you include the word "Cross" people know whats up if they've played a "<insert here> Cross" game. I only play it with my college buddies once a year now but its huge action in terms of ante to final pot ratio, but we do NL when IMO its a Limit game. I would love an old school table for a few hours at bbbbbb. Cross, In Between, F your neighbor, Guts.
 

jbutler

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We had a guy who introduced this into our cash games a few years ago, called it the Iron Cross. Fun game, lots of action. I've heard it's now being dealt down in a couple of casinos in AC now as well.

i've not heard of it being spread and i spend an embarrassing amount of time in AC casinos. where have you heard it's being played? the casino control commission has taken a much broader view of what games can be provided over the past several years (mostly due to severe underfunding), but i'd still be really surprised if i saw this in any room. i don't even know if i would trust a casino dealer to run the game correctly.

come to think of it, most games that are called at my tues/thurs game can't be found in AC: criss cross, tahoe (played as limit hi/lo and called "palin" now among the regulars here), chicago, and pot limit five card draw. there are other games, but i think 90% of the time we're playing one of those three.
 

Irish

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i've not heard of it being spread and i spend an embarrassing amount of time in AC casinos. where have you heard it's being played? the casino control commission has taken a much broader view of what games can be provided over the past several years (mostly due to severe underfunding), but i'd still be really surprised if i saw this in any room. i don't even know if i would trust a casino dealer to run the game correctly.

come to think of it, most games that are called at my tues/thurs game can't be found in AC: criss cross, tahoe (played as limit hi/lo and called "palin" now among the regulars here), chicago, and pot limit five card draw. there are other games, but i think 90% of the time we're playing one of those three.

I *believe* it was at Borgata and Resorts. I'll have to check in with my group to confirm.
 

jbutler

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I *believe* it was at Borgata and Resorts. I'll have to check in with my group to confirm.

definitely not resorts - they haven't had a poker room in years (though they may have to open one sometime in the future if their relationship with PokerStars is reignited in the future and the state continues to require a physical poker room as a prerequisite to online operations). borgata offers slightly more obscure games as part of a mix (usually only high stakes - $100/200 through $1k/2k - but a $20/40 game goes off very occasionally), but nothing as exotic as criss cross.

the games i've seen spread as part of the mix at borg are, in order of frequency of inclusion in the mix (needless to say i speak exclusively of the $20/40 game):

O8
Stud 8
2-7 TD
Badugi
Stud
Badeucy
Badacey
LHE
Razz
Stud Hi/Lo No Qualifier
Razzdugi
NLHE
PLO

the last four are very, very rarely in the mix. it's most commonly a three way game where deuce and badugi alternate as the third game and the games in the middle hop in depending on the group.
 

bergs

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Our weekly Wednesday mix game TWENTY years ago called this Kings Cross (we used antes). I think the official name is Iron Cross. As long as you include the word "Cross" people know whats up if they've played a "<insert here> Cross" game. I only play it with my college buddies once a year now but its huge action in terms of ante to final pot ratio, but we do NL when IMO its a Limit game. I would love an old school table for a few hours at bbbbbb. Cross, In Between, F your neighbor, Guts.

We'll definitely do this. This is the true circus game. If "In Between" is Acey-Deucey, it's one of the few games I won't play with you. If you and I played that game after we each had a few drinks in us, an awkward conversation would ensue that would feel like this:

Guinness: "Hi CLB"
CLB: "Where's Rob?"
Guinness: (sheepishly) "Well, see, that's the thing...I own your house now, and you can stay here, and stuff, but Rob is now my indentured servant."
CLB: "WHAT?!?!?"
Guinness: "Well, it all started with $1 ante acey-deucy, and things got sorta, well, retarded...."

(cut to Rob mowing Guinness' lawn using nothing but his teeth and JJ the Asshole dog making repeated licking runs at him).
 

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I would totally rethink those starting hands. Straights are sucker hands, nut flush hands might be ok but . . . the best common hands are four card lows, say A, 2, 4 ,6. A hand like this could be "made" after one card is exposed and Hero will be able to bet freely. Obviously quads are great. A set of high cards should play well, though a low set is tricky and often making under-full which we know can be ouchy.


With as many cards in play, a highly contested pot likely means full houses for high or several powerful lows (or both). The biggest sucker hand is A,2, brick brick making the "nut" low in Omaha but rarely the true nut low which will be four or five wheel cards. Sometimes two powerful low hands will drive out medium strength high hands leading to something really shabby winning high.

I am never going to start any "straight hands" like A, K Q J etc. {EVER} My naked flush draws are always three to an ace or better. A hand like :ah: :2s: :4h: :6h: is pure gold. Same with :ac: :ah: :2h: :4h:

My basic plan is to peddle near nut hands and hands that use three or four of my hole cards. NEVER straights unless it is a low hand that also makes a straight. Motto? "don't be a sucker"

DrStrange
 

jbutler

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Guinness: "Hi CLB"
CLB: "Where's Rob?"
Guinness: (sheepishly) "Well, see, that's the thing...I own your house now, and you can stay here, and stuff, but Rob is now my indentured servant."
CLB: "WHAT?!?!?"
Guinness: "Well, it all started with $1 ante acey-deucy, and things got sorta, well, retarded...."

(cut to Rob mowing Guinness' lawn using nothing but his teeth and JJ the Asshole dog making repeated licking runs at him).

there actually is a precedent for this arrangement that CLB might recognize.

skaGAn0.jpg
 

jbutler

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I would totally rethink those starting hands. Straights are sucker hands, nut flush hands might be ok but . . . the best common hands are four card lows, say A, 2, 4 ,6. A hand like this could be "made" after one card is exposed and Hero will be able to bet freely. Obviously quads are great. A set of high cards should play well, though a low set is tricky and often making under-full which we know can be ouchy.


With as many cards in play, a highly contested pot likely means full houses for high or several powerful lows (or both). The biggest sucker hand is A,2, brick brick making the "nut" low in Omaha but rarely the true nut low which will be four or five wheel cards. Sometimes two powerful low hands will drive out medium strength high hands leading to something really shabby winning high.

I am never going to start any "straight hands" like A, K Q J etc. {EVER} My naked flush draws are always three to an ace or better. A hand like :ah: :2s: :4h: :6h: is pure gold. Same with :ac: :ah: :2h: :4h:

My basic plan is to peddle near nut hands and hands that use three or four of my hole cards. NEVER straights unless it is a low hand that also makes a straight. Motto? "don't be a sucker"

DrStrange

thanks for the thoughts, doc. i'll have to reevaluate. my straight and flush hands were killing last night, so i guess i just internalized those short-term results.

though the biggest hand i remember i lost i held J842 all hearts, made a flush with one single heart on board (ace) and lost to two higher flushes where i and the ultimate winner were just calling the guy who was putting the most heat on the hand with what turned out to be queen high hearts, losing to a guy who held three diamonds (ace high) with two on board. at the time i just thought it was a small cooler, but maybe i should steel myself to seeing that sort of thing more often.

as i think further, one notable hand i won i held AA23 double suited and ended up scooping when the pot four ways with just the aces for high after the top card paired on the board and my low bested the other guy who was driving the action in the hand after i slowed down when the board got iffy.

in other words, not surprisingly, the doc is correct ;)
 

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Been a while since I've played ____ Cross, but it seems nutso to be able to play 2,3, or 4 cards from holdings. At full table I'd not be stunned at quads and straight flush popping off.
 

jbutler

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Been a while since I've played ____ Cross, but it seems nutso to be able to play 2,3, or 4 cards from holdings. At full table I'd not be stunned at quads and straight flush popping off.

once last night we did have straight flush over boat with no pair on the board. the very next round i called palin (5 card O8; play all 5 or 2) and lost two consecutive hands with top boat to quads. still came away second big winner on the night, though, which just shows you how lucky i was getting during criss cross.

i do fear that i was annoying every single person, though, because every time i won a criss cross hand i would sing "jack's hand'll make you JUMP JUMP"

kris-kross-jump-03.jpg
 

jbutler

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you should have gone to the bathroom, and come back to the table with your clothes on backwards. That would be wiggity wiggity wiggity whack.

absolutely doing this next game. i came from work, too, so i was in a suit which would make it even more surreal and uncomfortable (for me and everyone else).
 

bergs

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Some of 'em set mine, but they can't set mine like this (Go, Go)...

- - - - - - - - - Updated - - - - - - - - -

absolutely doing this next game. i came from work, too, so i was in a suit which would make it even more surreal and uncomfortable (for me and everyone else).

Just wear a shirt that says "The Miggidy-Miggidy-Miggidy" on the front and "Mac Daddy" on the back and stand up and turn around repeatedly whenever you win a hand.
 

Racer96

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So a full table?

I've played so many variations of this game. Sometimes dealt with 5 hole cards. Sometimes where the lowest card on the board becomes wild (and if you hold it in your hand as well, that is wild.) Almost always played with the rotating opening player (left of button, 2 to the left, 3 to the left, but with the final betting round reverting back to the under the gun spot.) Never played it with the forced bet. Almost always played as a very strange ante/limit betting structure.

Because of the strange structure (in the game I play it most), it's almost always +EV to just hold on until the end. Which makes it very much a bingo jackpot game. This was usually played roughly 7 handed, 5 card variant. Mix of wild/no wild called. Even when you held no low cards, because of the ante and limit betting, you just hold on and enjoy the ride for the most part. If you hold a bunch of low cards in the wild card variant, just keep pounding away.

When I played it as a no limit game (different group) It was super villain dependent. This was usually played roughly 5 or 6 handed. Most bets called by everyone on first and second street. Anyone in it at 4th street would generally call any bet to see the middle card. Be vary weary of holding a nut low, because you could easily get quartered (or worse, 1/6th!) In the no limit variant, bluffing does become possible, if your villains are aware. Sometimes players get stuck not seeing/noticing/thinking that while unlikely, it's possibly quads and straight flushes are possible even if the board isn't paired or 2 to a suit. If they are aware and you start potting it in, a good villain will be able to get away from it. (Of course, if you're bluffing at it, and play this game a lot, embrace the variance and get the wallet ready.)

Mike
 

onerand

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This is a brutal game, and in my opinion you should base your strategy on the types of starting hands your opponents will play. The fact that you can use all 4 from your hand, and either board is dirty.

When I lived in WI we occasionally would call out 3-2-1 pot-limit Omaha, triple flop, 2 turns (each one good for two boards) and solo shared river. Usually just high, sometimes hi-lo, and split pot on each board. I could wrap my head around that one even when drunk because I could get see where my hand stood on each board. With Iron cross my head would explode.
 

Chippy McChiperson

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i used to play this back in the day .25 - $2.00 spread limit, and the center card was wild. Always had big pots (relative to the stakes, of course).
 

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Several AC casinos are spreading a table game on the casino floor called Criss Cross Poker; it's a house game with fixed payoffs using the cross layout. They may not be playing a true poker game with this variant in the poker room.
 

BGinGA

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Been a while since I've played ____ Cross, but it seems nutso to be able to play 2,3, or 4 cards from holdings. At full table I'd not be stunned at quads and straight flush popping off.

^This. Every game I've played where x-cross was dealt (none recently), it was two in hand plus three on board (either way) - and often a declare game. Playing four cards in your hand sounds a bit nuts to me, and would seem to make it less skill involved.
 
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