Nashville Hold 'Em

Nashville Hold ’Em is set up & played exactly like a regular Hold ’Em game is, with three differences:

1.    Nashville Hold ’Em has different sets than regular poker. Each set relates to a basic music concept, as explained further below. A couple of these sets use more than 5 cards: the Key and the Major.

2.    Kings are wild. So, instead of hands looping from King to Ace, Nashville Poker hands loop from Queen to Ace instead.

3.     Unlike Texas Hold 'Em, Nashville poker hands can loop past the Ace, for example, J♥︎  Q♦︎  A♦︎  2♥︎  3♦︎ (a Pentatonic set).


Here are the different sets players are trying to find (weakest sets first):

7. The High Note

This hand works very similarly to the 'high card' set in poker. If no one else has any combinations or higher cards, then you win!

6. The Chroma Pair

This hand is a lot like a regular pair, but both cards must be a different colour.

This means you must have both a major and a minor card of the same rank. In music, chroma pairs are called "relative keys". Relative keys share the same notes in their scale, as can be seen by comparing the keyboards of any chroma pair.

If you put arrange two of these paired Guitar Cards' keyboards, one atop the other, you can see that they have the same unshaded keys - the same scales.

5. The Three Chord Trick

Made with 3 cards of the same colour in a row, eg:  
3♥︎ 4♥︎ 5♦︎ or
J♠ Q♣ A♠

Because Guitar Cards are arranged by the circle of fifths, every three chord trick shows what's called a I IV V (one four five) chord progression!

Using a combination of these chords will always produce a harmonious sound. They sound good together because they are all strong Major chords from the same key, and they work well together to create a bright and happy overall tone. 

To learn more about this classic chord progression, try this page over at Goblin Guitar.

4. The Top 40

A Three-Chord Trick with a Chroma Pair in the middle, eg:
A♠, 2♣, 2♦︎, 3♣

Thousands of great songs use this set of chords, as they make for catchy and memorable songs.

If you want a great example of just how many pop and rock songs use this chord progression, check out "4 Chords" by Axis of Awesome.

3. The Penta

5 cards of the same colour in a row. Can loop from Queens to Aces and even past the Ace, for example:
J♠ Q♠ A♣ 2♣ 3♠

The pentatonic scale is based on the most important interval in music - the fifth. 5 fifths in a row create a pentatonic scale.

Humans have used this scale for at least thirty thousand years! There is even evidence that neanderthal people made flutes that use this scale over fifty thousand years ago.

If you want a great example of how deeply this particular scale is embedded in our brains, do check out the great Bobby McFerrin's talk on The Power of the Pentatonic Scale - it's amazing, and was a large inspiration for Guitar Cards.

2. The House Key

A house key is made of two white and red Three-Chord Tricks with the same ranks, for example:
3♣ 4♣ 5♠ 3♥ 4♥︎ 5♦

These 6 chords will always make what's called a "diatonic key". What makes these chords work so well with each other is they they all use notes from the root (center) cards' scale.

Understanding keys is essential for communicating with musicians, learning and remembering and even writing songs, and for understanding harmony.

People often like to say that Jimi Hendrix didn't learn music theory - but if you listen to his soloing, he was always "playing in key".

1. The Big Stretch

Made with 7 cards in a row, all of the same colour. The most powerful hand in Nashville Hold 'Em, this set is extremely rare, even with wildcards.

Every note from a Big Stretch will always create a major scale (along with it's relative minor scale). Once again, this shows just how closely the circle of fifths is related to every fundamental music concept.

5♠ 6♠ 7♣ 8♣ 9♠ 10♠ J♣, or
Q♥ A♥︎ 2♦ 3♥︎ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦