how to play moss poker

Moss Poker: The Funnest Poker Game You Haven’t Played

I have been obsessed with a poker game recently.

It’s not No Limit Hold’em, nor is it the great game of Pot Limit Omaha. But, like those games, it does involve both hole cards and community cards.

The name of the game? Moss Poker.

Since high stakes regular Henrik Hecklen tweeted the rules early last year, this has been my favorite game to play with friends and family. It’s simple, unique, exciting, and a blast for beginners and experienced poker players alike.

All you need is a deck of cards and knowledge of the poker hand rankings. You can use chips for scoring, but a pen and paper works just as well.

Note: If you like the game, you may want to say thanks to its creator tournament pro Matt Moss.

How to Play Moss Poker

Let’s run through the rules, step-by-step, and then look at an example hand.

Step 1. Each player is dealt 10 cards

Between two and four players receive 10 cards each. There’s not much reason to look at them yet, though, because first you have to…

Step 2. Deal the flop

The first three community cards hit the table.

Step 3. Each player sets their hand

The players arrange their 10 cards into five Texas Hold’em hands, face down, each of which will be worth a different number of points at showdown:

  • 5-pointer (worth 5 points)
  • 4-pointer (worth 4 points)
  • 3-pointer (you get it)
  • 2-pointer
  • 1-pointer

Note that these hands can be arranged however the player wants. For example, your 5-pointer can be your best hand, your worst hand, or anything in between.

Once the hands are locked in, it’s time to…

Step 4. Deal the turn and river

The turn and river complete the board.

Step 5. Showdown and scoring

Each player flips their hole cards face up to compare versus the opposing hands. The 5-pointers match-up against the 5-pointers, the 4-pointers against the 4-pointers, and so on.

The winner of each hand gets paid by the loser depending on how many points the hand is worth.

For example, if you and I were playing Moss Poker heads-up, the scoring might go like this:

  • My 5-pointer beats your 5-pointer
  • Your 4-pointer beats my 4-pointer
  • My 3-pointer beats your 3-pointer
  • Your 2-pointer beats my 2-pointer
  • My 1-pointer beats your  1-pointer

In this example, I won 9 points and you won 6 points. So, you’d owe me 3 points. If we were playing for $0.50 per point, you’d owe me $1.50. 

It’s up to you to decide what each point is worth — before the hand is dealt, obviously. FYI, the maximum you can win/lose per hand in a heads-up game is 15 points.

Multiway Scoring in Moss Poker

Scoring in Moss Poker is straightforward when playing heads-up. However, if you’re playing with three or four players, you have a couple of options.

The tamer (and simpler) option: Each hand has exactly one winner. Said winner is paid by all of the other players for that hand.

For example, if I have the best 5-pointer in a three-handed game of Moss Poker, the other two players both pay me 5 points. Repeat for the 4-pointer, 3-pointer, and so on.

The bloodier option: You compare hands versus every other player, as if you’re playing heads-up versus each of them. If you lose a hand to multiple players, you must pay all of those players.

For example, if I have the worst 5-pointer in a three-handed game, I pay both players 5 points. This means that the player with the second best 5-pointer actually breaks even (I pay him 5 and he pays the winner 5). Repeat for the 4-pointer, 3-pointer, and so on.

In the tamer version, the maximum you can lose per hand is always 15 points. In the bloodier version, you can lose up to 30 points per hand when three-handed and up to 45 points when four-handed.

Moss Poker Example Hand

Armed with a deck of cards, chips, and my phone’s camera, I’m going to play a hand of Moss Poker.

You will be my opponent, and we will be playing for 25 cents per point.

Hole Cards and Flop

I’ve dealt both of us 10 cards, along with a flop.

moss poker initial deal

Here’s your hand (I didn’t look until I had already set mine — I promise):

moss poker starting hand

Take a moment to consider how you would set your hand. (Remember, the flop is Q♠ T♣ 6♣.)

Alright, I’m going to take a stab at setting your hand so we can continue on with the example. You can view the way I set your hand and my (undoubtedly flawed) reasoning below.


Turn and River

Let’s see the final community cards.

moss poker turn river


Time to flip the cards on their backs!

moss poker showdown

Here are the five match-ups:

  • 5-pointer: Your A♣ 2♣ beats my 9♣ 7♣
  • 4-pointer: Your Q 6 beats my T 6♠
  • 3-pointer: My K♠ K♣ beats your 9♠ 9
  • 2-pointer: My 7♠ 7 beats your A♠ 8♣
  • 1-pointer: My 8 4♠ ties with your 5 4

You won 9 points to my 5. That means I owe you 4 points.

Here are your winnings:

moss poker winnings

Nice hand!

How Would You Set This Moss Poker Hand?

I will leave you with one final example to help you hone your Moss skills before taking on your friends.

Here’s your hand and the flop:

final moss poker hand

Drop a comment below with how you’d set this one.

Thanks for taking the time to learn this awesome game. Take care!

Note: Learn step-by-step how to become the best player at the table when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Elite pros have been adding new content every week for the past four years, and you get all of it when you join. Learn more now!


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About the Author
Mike Brady

Mike Brady

I used to play a ton of poker. Now, I'm the Vice President of Upswing Poker and only play a decent amount of poker. Read my full bio here.

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