This page is based on a contribution from Massimo Ilardo, webmaster of oltreilpoker.it.
Telesina is an Italian poker variant, also sometimes known as Teresina. Just as ordinary Italian Poker (poker all'italiana) is a version of 5-card Draw, Telesina is the Italian version of 5-card Stud.
Like Italian Poker, Telesina is played with a variable number of cards from a standard 52-card pack dependent upon the number of players at the table. The lowest card is equal to the number of players subtracted from 11. For example, if there are 5 players seated, the game is played using 36 cards, from 6 up to Ace, because 11-5=6.
At the start of the game each player pays an agreed ante to the pot. The each receives 2 cards from the dealer, dealt clockwise, one face down and one face up. After receiving the first two cards there is a round of betting, begun by the player whose face up card is highest in rank. Ties are broken by suit: as in Poker all'italiana hearts are highest, followed by diamonds, clubs spades.
After the first betting round another face up card is dealt to each player who has not folded, followed by a second round of betting, begun by the player with the best pair showing, or if no one has a pair by the highest single card, and if these are equal the highest second card. (Again suits are used to break ties - see poker all'italiana for details of this.)
Further face up cards are dealt in the same way, with a round of betting after each, begun by the player with the best hand showing (since there are fewer than 5 cards, only pairs, trips and four of a kind count for this, not straights, flushes or full houses). This continues until each player has four cards facing up and one facing down.
Following the final betting round there is a showdown between the players who have stayed in, and the player with the highest hand wins. As in Italian poker, in Telesina a flush has more value than a full house. The full ranking of hands from high to low is:
For further details see poker all'italiana.
In this version of Telesina, one card, "la vela", is dealt face down to the table at the start. Then the deal and betting continues as normal and after the betting round with five-card hands, "la vela" is turned face up and there is a final round of betting. In the showdown "la vela" is a community card is available to all players. Each makes the best five-card hand he can from the six available cards (five in hand plus la vela).
The dealer selects a rank - for example nines - and all cards of this rank are wild. Any wild card can be used to represent any card the player chooses, with the restriction that a player cannot thereby make a hand with two identical cards. There is one exception: four of a kind plus a wild cardmakes a special combination "pokerissimo", which ranks higher than a straight flush.
All cards are dealt face down. After two cards have been dealt to each player, each reveals one card of his or her choice before the first betting round. After each subsequent card is dealt, players choose whether to reveal this new card or the one face down card they already have. So in each betting round, every player has one face down card and the others face up, as in normal Telesina.
There is generally no formal rule on the order in which the players expose their cards. All must expose their chosen card before the next betting round begins. If this should becomes a problem, with players waiting to see what other players show before making their choice, then everyone should hold their selected card face down, and when all have chosen all the selected cards should be shown at once.
In this variant, all the cards are distributed face up except for the first and the last. After the last card is dealt and before the final betting round, each player decides whether to show the first or last card to the table.
Rules of Telesina are available in Italian from the poker.it site.