Banker is a unique kind of side bet game because it is played one hole at a time and may start or be discontinued on any hole. Like most betting games it is best played using net handicap scores.
One person is declared The Banker for each hole and the other players individually bet against The Banker for that one hole. Each bet stands alone.
Before the round starts the group decides the minimum and maximum bet and if Presses are allowed. (Be careful with presses!)
The betting starts at the conclusion of the first hole. The person with the lowest net score on hole #1 becomes the Banker on hole #2. (If more than one person has the lowest score the tie breaker is the longest putt.)
The remaining players then declare a 1-on-1 bet against the Banker for that hole. Bets must be within the agreed min-max dollar range. Once everyone holes out, scores are compared, and winning bets recorded. A tie or a push is common, but players could also agree on the long putt tie breaker.
The Banker is then identified for the next hole. Many have a rule that no one can be the Banker for consecutive holes. In that format the best score from the remaining players determines the Banker for the next hole.
This is a fun betting game, but it requires a bit of accounting.
- Allow the Banker to establish the bet for all. In this version the Banker hits last and declares the bet while his drive is in the air. Some will keep it simple by allowing one of three amounts – the minimum, the maximum and one in between.
- Instead of dollar bets you can bet points and play for a predetermined pool of money, either for one pot, or a Nassau format with a winner for the front, back and total.
- To play presses the Banker always hits last. Each player may declare a press following their shot but before the Banker hits. The Banker then has the option to press back following their shot. Consecutive presses by the same player are typically not allowed. Meaning you cannot press a second time unless you have been pressed back.
- Par 3 presses must be “air presses” meaning you call the press before the ball lands.
Let’s look at an example of play.
Fred, Warren, Al, and Bob are ready to play on hole 1 and agree to a minimum $1 maximum $20 Banker game. Bob gets a birdie on #1 and is declared the Banker for hole #2.
- Fred bets Bob $5 that his net score will beat Bob’s.
- Warren gets a stroke on hole #2 and feels confident betting Bob $20.
- Al must give Bob a stroke, so he plays it safe with a $1 bet.
Fred and Al hit average drives and decide not to Press. Warren hits a huge drive and presses Bob which makes their bet $40. Bob then hits in the rough and decides no more pressing from him. Now the hole is finished.
- Fred loses by one stroke and owes Bob $5
- Warren ties Bob with a par so he gets a net birdie and wins $40
- Al and Bob both par, but Al must give Bob a handicap stroke, so he owes Bob $1.
Keeping track of the bets owed is the only tough part of this game. It is easiest if a separate score card is used, and the player determined as the banker records the amounts won or lost on their hole.
Or keep it really simple and just pay up after each hole is played.
Thanks to Fred S. – Kansas City, MO