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 (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
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.
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
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
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.
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.