What is a Big Cat?
A big cat is a ranked poker hand with a lowest card of 8 and a highest card of K, where no pair is present. It is a non-standard hand, which means it does not appear in official poker hand rankings but it might be brought into a private game, often where wildcards are being used. ‘Cats’ and ‘dogs in these games are non-standard hands where the lowest and highest cards are assessed, ranking above straights but below the straight flush house (a wildcard straight).
Big Cat Explained
In many forms of poker played away from casinos, players set their own rules or use additional non-standard hands – usually to liven up play and create more winning hands. These non-standard hands are usually brought in when wildcards are in play, as those wildcards can change how likely a hand is to appear and how easily a high ranking hand can be made.
The ‘big cat’ is one of these non-standard hands, consisting of any five cards (with no pairs) where the highest card is an 8 and the lowest card is a king. It is the best of the four hands known as ‘cats and dogs’: the ‘little dog’ (7-high, 2-low); the big dog (A-high, 9-low); the ‘little cat’ (8-high, 3-low); the big cat (K-high, 8-low). These hands beat straights but fall short of straight flush house hands (a run in which the suits are matched because a wildcard is present). Dog and cat flushes might beat a straight flush, depending on the rules of that particular game.
The ‘big cat’ hand is also referred to as the ‘big tiger’, and a ‘little cat’ is a ‘little tiger’. Some games include the tiger hand (9-high, 3-low) which sits below a big cat and above a big dog. The tiger hand might be used as another name for any ‘cat’, or it might be switched to a 3-to-8 hand (usually the ‘little cat’).