Everyone is familiar with poker as a game, but most people don’t realise just how many different ways there are of playing the classic card game. In recent years online poker websites in particular have done a lot for increasing the profile of the game.
How Many Variations of Poker Are There?
It has also helped players to understand the nuances and intricacies of poker games outside of the classic Texas Hold ‘Em variant. Now, there are more variants being played with games that were once forgotten now coming back into vogue.
Want to know more about poker? Then read on to find out about five of the most well-known variants on the planet.
Texas Hold ‘Em
If you were to stumble into any card room in the world or log onto any poker site, you would almost immediately be greeted with the sight of people playing Texas Hold ‘Em. It is by far the most popular variant in the world and is played by pros and amateurs alike.
At the beginning of the game every player around the table will be dealt two cards which they can look at. A round of betting will then take place in which two players are required to bet – the big blind and the small blind – the others can either match the big blind bet or fold.
After that round three cards known as ‘community cards’ are placed face up in the middle of the table. Players use the cards in their hands and these three community cards to form the best hand possible.
Betting continues for two rounds with another community card being dealt at the beginning of each round. Ultimately players are left with five community cards and their own to form their hands, if the betting continues the winner is determined by the player with the best hand.
The fact that players cannot know one another’s hands for certain leads to a lot of nuance, with the player with the best hand not always necessarily winning.
This is the second most popular variant in the world and is a regular staple at most casinos and online poker sites. This game effectively plays the same as Texas Hold ‘Em but with a couple of small differences.
Instead of being dealt two whole cards off the rip, players are dealt with four, but must still make the best five card hand using the community cards and at least two of their four.
As there are more cards at the players disposal, the chances of making a good hand increase by six-fold. Winnings are not split either, with the entire pot at the showdown being awarded to the player with the best hand.
Omaha Hi Lo
Think of this as Omaha Hi for beginners. The main rules of the game are exactly the same with the only difference being in how the pot is awarded.
The player with the best hand and the player with the worst share the pot equally, although there are a number of prerequisites that must be met in order to claim the worst hand. This tends to make for an intriguing and dramatic game where players are constantly performing mental acrobatics to work out what their hand could mean.
In this form of poker players must make the highest ranked 5-card hand possible with no community cards on offer. This makes 5-Card Draw one of the most psychologically taxing forms of poker in the world.
With no community cards to draw inferences from, players must become amateur psychologists in their bid to detect bluffs and sniff out an opportunity to go for the jugular. If you want a quick, gratifying game and have a decent working knowledge of poker hands this is the type of game for you.
Before Texas Hold ‘Em became a global sensation 7-Card Stud was the most popular variant and is a game you will often see being played in old Westerns. Much like 5-Card Draw there are no community cards with players being dealt their own individual cards.
Not all of their seven cards are secret though as some are turned upwards for other players to look at. The game is most commonly played in private circles now or by pros as a form of practice in between breaks at major tournaments.
If you’ve watched The Queens Gambit on Netflix, think of it like speed chess.
Here are a couple of other poker variants that whilst they might not be as popular as the five mentioned above, are fun to play.
Badugi: Created in the 1980s this relatively new poker variant has its own hand ranking system and requires players to make a hand with four, rather than five cards.
HORSE: This game isn’t named after the animal, rather it’s an acronym of the five different poker variants that the game uses – Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud and Eight – or – Better. It’s not usually played competitively to a high level, but it is a great game to practice your poker knowledge.
Razz: Players are dealt seven cards and then asked to make the lowest hand possible, think of it like 7-Card Stud in reverse. Aces are low and straights and flushes do not count against a low hand in this fun and quirky game.