Drawn In Perspective

General Knowledge Poker

I ran some games of General Knowledge Poker recently and several people asked me where they could find the rules online, so I wrote them out here.

General Knowledge Poker keeps the fun parts of Texas Hold-em but replaces a deck of playing cards with a list of general knowledge questions.

I’m pretty sure Texas Hold-em is the most popular poker variant in the English speaking world. I think part of its popularity is that it gets the balance just right between:

  1. Giving each player some hidden information to bet on.
  2. Everyone publicly updating their bets based on new shared information that gets revealed bit by bit each round.

The least fun part about Texas Hold-em (and most poker variants) is that figuring out, or learning, the relative odds of various poker hands feels quite arbitrary.

By using general knowledge questions instead of playing cards, General Knowledge Poker makes the following changes:

  1. For the hidden information each player secretly writes down their guess for what the right answer is.
  2. For the shared information that gets revealed bit by bit, hints to the questions are revealed to everyone between rounds of betting.

The winner at the end of four rounds of betting is the player whose own answer is closest to the right one. You bet as normal, using poker chips. The first round of betting is done after players write their answers down, two rounds are done after hints are revealed, a final round is done after the answer is revealed, but before the players know whose answer was closest.


If you’re into probability theory or forecasting, this game works as practice for making updates to your beliefs about real world facts when exposed to new information, with some added room for bluffing and social deduction.

It can also help you calibrate how sure you are about your beliefs in the first place. Remember when I said earlier that the part of poker that’s least fun for new players is learning the relative odds of various poker hands? In General Knowledge Poker this is replaced with figuring out the relative odds of your own and others’ guesses about some fact being closest to reality. This is a generally useful skill when trying to calibrate how much faith to put in your own and others’ beliefs about the world. An alternative name for this game in that spirit is “Belief Calibration Poker”.

This game was introduced to me during the pandemic. I was invited to play it over a zoom call with some friends in Germany. They called it “Estimation Poker” but I’ve stopped using that name because it puts people off who confuse it with an unrelated project management game called “Planning Poker”. My friends in turn say they got the idea from the German game show “Das Duell um Die Geld”.

Help me write questions!

The hardest part about running this game is producing good quality questions and hints. If you’d like to use mine, please reach out and I can share them, I’m not sharing them publicly because I don’t have many, and because the audience for this blog overlaps heavily with the group of people I’d like to play this game with.

Additionally, if you write your own questions and hints, are generally good at writing fun quiz questions with numerical answers, or speak German and want to help translate game show questions, I would love to work together on making some more of these.

Full instructions

Here are the instructions in detail if you’d like to run a game yourself. I’ve tried to write them in enough detail that you can play even if you’ve never played Texas Hold-em before, but having at least one person at the table who has will certainly help you run things more smoothly.

If the dealer is the person who came up with the questions, they won’t play. Instead they’ll act at quiz-master and run the game.


The objective of General Knowledge Poker is to accumulate the most chips by either having the most accurate answers to numerical general knowledge questions or successfully bluffing to convince others you do.


  • Players: 3-10 players are recommended.
  • You will need: Poker chips (or a website for placing virtual poker bets, like pokerchips.io), writing materials (paper & pens/pencils), and a list of trivia questions with two hints each and accurate answers.
  • Initial Stake: Decide on an initial amount of chips for each player.


The game is played in rounds, each round has the following phases:

  1. Question Phase

    • The dealer selects a trivia question and reads it aloud.
    • Each player writes down their answer secretly.
    • Players make their initial bets, starting with the player to the dealer’s left and proceeding clockwise.
  2. Hint & Betting Phases (3x)

    • The dealer reveals the first hint.
    • A betting round ensues, following traditional poker betting rules (check, bet, call, raise, fold).
    • The dealer reveals the second hint.
    • A betting round ensues, following traditional poker betting rules (check, bet, call, raise, fold).
    • The dealer reveals the answer. Note: players should not reveal their own answers yet! We have a final round of betting because while players will know how close their own answers are, they still do not know other players secret answers, and can still bet on who is closest!
    • The final round betting round ensues, following traditional poker betting rules (check, bet, call, raise, fold).
  3. Showdown

    • Remaining players reveal their written answers.
    • The player with the closest or most accurate answer, as determined by consensus or a predetermined standard, wins the pot.


  • Blinds: Determine small and big blinds (forced bets) among players, rotating each round. For example if the blinds are 1 and 2 chips respectively, the small blind player is forced to bet one chip, the big blind player to their left is forced to bet two, and then betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind who can either “call” to match the bet of 2 chips, “raise” to bet more than two chips, or “fold” to sit out the round from this point. A “check” is an equivalent to calling a bet of zero chips.
  • Betting Rounds: Follow a check-bet-raise format described above. Players must match the highest bet or fold. Betting ends once everyone has checked or called the most recent raise. When a player folds they leave all the chips they have bet so far in the pot.
  • All-In: A player may bet all their chips. If they lose, they’re out. If they win, they continue playing.

Deciding the Winner

  • The winner is the player with the closest answer to the question.
  • If players have equally accurate answers, they get equal shares of the pot.
  • In case of a betting showdown where all but one player folds, the remaining player wins, regardless of their answer’s accuracy.

Splitting the Pot When Players Go All-in

As with normal poker betting: if two or more players are all in with different amounts, you need to ensure that no player can win more from the other players than they bet themselves. You can do this by splitting the pot:

  • Main Pot: Consists of matched amounts from all involved players.

  • Side Pots: Created if there are remaining bets, distributed starting from the player closest to the dealer's left.

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