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Variations of Poker

Despite the impression you might get from watching poker on TV, there are many types of poker games, with different rule variations, styles and strategies.

Texas Hold'em
Texas Hold'em (also called just Holdem) is the most popular poker game. It can be played Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit, with somewhat different strategies for each. Texas Holdem is a community card game where players are each dealt two cards while sharing five common cards. The player who stays in the pot until the end and combines their cards with the community ones to make the best five card hand wins, unless no one calls in which case the only remaining hand wins. (Texas Holdem Fundamentals)

Omaha Hold'em
A community card game similar to Texas Hold'em, Omaha players get four personal cards and share five community cards. Most often played eight-or-better high-low split, Omaha is also played high only, and also can be played Limit, Pot Limit or (rarely) No Limit. (Omaha Poker, Hi Lo Qualify 8 - How to play?)

Stud Poker has many variations. Seven Card Stud is the most popular version played in casinos, whereas Seven Card Stud High-Low is more popular in tournaments. While very popular in home card games in many forms (Baseball, Anaconda, Chicago, and many more) Stud has lost much of its popularity in casinos compared to community card games. Stud High-Low with an eight or better qualifier is the most common form of HiLo Stud in casinos, with High-Low Declare common in home games. "Q" is sometimes player in larger casino games: High Low without a low qualifier. Five Card Stud is rarely played in casinos. Too much skill is involved, so bad players lose quickly, and the game becomes tedious when played with only good players (except in tournaments). A five card stud games can be found online. Mexican Stud is a fairly popular stripped deck game. Where it is played (rarely), Sonora, no limit five card stud, has some loyal fans.

Draw Poker
The most basic of all poker games, Five Card Draw is familiar to tens of millions of people. Due to its extremely high level of basic skill (bad players simply have no chance in even the medium run), Draw is almost extinct in casinos. Jacks or Better, where a player must have a pair of jacks or better before they can open before the draw is a common variation.

Lowball is five card draw where the lowest hand wins (straights or flushes not counting). Aces play low, so a five-high "wheel" (5432A) is the best possible hand. A variation is Deuce to Seven Draw where flushes and straights DO count and aces play high, so 75432 is the very best hand possible. 2 to 7 is usually played No Limit. Neither form is played very often these days, but when they are, they are often played Triple Draw, where instead of one, three draws occur (and so also more betting rounds).

Razz is Seven Card Stud lowball. A mechanical game when played with a full table of players, Razz seldom gets played except in tournament and shorthanded situations where limited chip stacks or high antes encourage action. (See also HORSE below.) ( See Razz Poker rules)

Pineapple Holdem - Crazy Pineapple
Halfway between Texas Holdem and Omaha stands Pineapple. Players are dealt three cards which they combine with five common cards -- except Pineapple requires that at players must discard one of their three cards. This occurs after the flop in Crazy Pineapple, and before the flop in "regular" Pineapple. More often than not the game is played high-low split. Pineapple is sometimes called "Watermelon" (because you "spit out the seeds").

Badugi is a four card lowball/triple draw variant where the goal is to end up with four cards of different suits and different ranks. So A234 of four different suits is the best hand. If at the showdown no player has a four card badugi, the player with the lowest three card badugi wins.

Mixed Poker Games
H.O.R.S.E (Hold'em-Omaha-Razz-Eight or Better), H.O.E (Hold'em-Omaha-Eight or Better) and O.E (Omaha High Low - Stud High Low) are common at higher limits in casinos. Mixed games are often spread to keep single game "specialists" out, and because the pool of players for any one game type is more limited.

Casino Games
Some poker sounding games are really not poker: Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Pai Gow Poker are casino games played against the house with some poker elements. Video poker games are slot machines with poker displays. Chinese Poker is more like poker since players can surrender.


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