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Poker Variations for Beginners


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Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world. There are multiple variations of this highly entertaining card game played across the globe.

The poker game has three main types of poker variations: stud, draw, and community card games. Despite different poker rules and play patterns, most poker variations use the same poker hand rankings.

There are mainly 11 variations of poker that are played worldwide: Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Omaha High, 5-card Omaha, 2-7 triple draw, 5-card draw, 7-card stud, Razz, Badugi, Chinese poker, Horse Poker and Short-deck Poker. The two most popular types of poker variations in India are Hold 'em Poker and Omaha Poker. Texas Hold 'em, one of the most popular poker game variations, offers several variations based on the blinds and betting amounts. Omaha Poker is similar to Texas Hold 'em, with the main difference being that there are four-hole cards instead of two.

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Different Types of Poker

  • Texas Hold ‘em Poker
  • Omaha Hold ’em
  • Omaha Hi/Lo
  • 7-Card Stud
  • 5-Card Draw
  • 2-7 Triple Draw Poker
  • Chinese Poker
  • Razz
  • Badugi
  • Horse Poker
  • Short Deck Poker

1. Texas Hold ‘em Poker

Texas Holdem is a community card poker game. In the texas holdem poker game, you get 2 cards face down, and 5 cards are placed face up in the middle of the table. You try to create the best possible 5-card poker hand by combining these cards. The player who has the best hand at the end wins the money in the pot.

How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker?

In Poker, Texas Hold'em is the most popular poker variant globally, captivating players with its blend of strategy, chance, and psychological tactics.

  • Blinds: Two players post mandatory bets (blinds) to start the pot.
  • Deal: Each player receives two hole cards face down.
  • Preflop Betting: Two players post mandatory bets (blinds) to start the pot.
  • The Flop: Three community cards are dealt face up in the center of the table, shared by all players. Another round of betting ensues.
  • The Turn: One more community card is dealt face up. Another round of betting.
  • The River: The final community card is dealt face up. One last round of betting.
  • Showdown: The remaining players reveal their hole cards. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

Pros of Playing Texas Hold’em Poker?

  • Mental Challenge: Develop strategic thinking, risk assessment, and decision-making skills.
  • Excitement and Thrill: Every hand brings fresh possibilities and the adrenaline rush of competition.
  • Accessibility: Easy to learn, with numerous online and offline options to play.

2. Omaha Hold ’em

In Omaha Hold ’em, each player is dealt 4 cards, and they must make the best hand using any 2 of them plus any 3 of the five community cards.

How to Play Omaha Hold ’em?

It begins similarly to Texas Hold’em; the players post mandatory blinds to kickstart the pot. Next, at the time of dealing, each player receives four hole cards face down. In this, the players can also fold, call, and raise based on their initial hand strength. Next, the flop, turn, and river are dealt face up in the center of the table, and the rounds of wagering occur after each reveal. In the end, comes a showdown, where the remaining players reveal their hole cards, and the player with the best 5 cards wins the game and the money.

Pros of Playing Omaha Hold ’em?

  • Four hole cards have more combinations and strategies to consider than Texas Hold'em, making the game mentally stimulating and challenging.
  • Increased hand possibilities lead to more unpredictable play and exciting bluffing opportunities, resulting in a faster-paced, more thrilling game.
  • Successfully navigating the complexities of Omaha requires advanced poker skills like hand reading, pot odds calculation, and adapting to diverse board textures

3. Omaha Hi/Lo

Omaha Hi/Lo is very similar to Omaha Hold ’em. In this variant, players have to create 2 hands with their hole cards and the community cards: a high hand and a low hand. The objective of this hi lo poker to have the highest high hand and the lowest low hand.

How to Play Omaha Hi/Lo?

Omaha hi/lo is played with each player getting 4 private hole cards. Players make the best 5-card high hand and 5-card low hand with any combination of their 4-hole cards and 5-board cards. The high hand portion plays like Omaha high, but the low add a twist. Low hands are 8-high or worse, such as 7-6-4-3-2, and use the Ace as a high card only. The pot is split between the best high and best low hand, though one player can win both for a scoop. The betting structure is similar to Texas hold'em. On each street, players can check, bet, or raise to build the pot. Players try to make strong high hands or draw for highs/lows.

Pros of Playing Omaha Hi/Lo

  • Generate more action since you make the best 5-card high hand and best 5-card low hand
  • You get 4 hole cards in Omaha hi/lo instead of 2, so there are many more hands to consider playing, even from an early position.
  • People apply skills in determining hand values, managing pot size, and extracting maximum value with the nut hands.
  • With 5 board cards showing, the texture is constantly changing. This allows the observant player to pick good spots to bluff or make hero calls

4. 7-Card Stud

In a 7-card stud game, each player receives 2 cards face down and then 1 card face up, dealt one at a time. After the initial deal, each active player receives 3 more cards face up and 1 more card face down. In the showdown, each player turns up all their hole cards and selects 5 of their 7 cards as their hand. The player has to separate these cards from the other two, which they need to discard.

How to play 7-Card Stud?

The goal is to make the best 5-card poker hand using any combo of your hole cards and upcards. You assess hand strength based on the visibility of cards and betting action. When it's your turn to bet, you can check, bet, raise, or fold based on your hand value. Winning hands are determined by standard poker rankings once final hands are shown at showdown. The player with the best 5-card hand wins the pot. Slight adjustments in betting order and limits exist between different stud variants.

Pros of playing 7-card Stud

  • With 4 upcards out of 7 total cards, more information is visible to assess your opponents' potential hands and playing styles. This benefits players skilled at reading hands and betting patterns.
  • With 3 hole cards and 4 upcards, your final hand possibilities are more complex compared to hold 'em. Additional skills around hand valuation and combinatorics add edges for strong players.
  • Unlike hold'em or Omaha, there are no community cards shared by all players. Each player has their distinct set of visible cards, and this removes complex equity calculations.

5. 5-Card Draw

In a 5-card draw poker game, the objective is to make the highest-ranking 5-card hand. All the players have their cards hidden from the opponents. The player with the best hand wins the round.

How to play 5-Card Draw?

In 5-Card Draw, players are dealt 5 hole cards face down. There is a round of betting based on the strength of one's hidden cards. Players can opt to fold, call/check, or raise the bet. Then comes the draw - players can trade 0 to 5 of their cards to improve their hand. Finally, there is one more betting round before a showdown to see who has the best traditional 5-card poker hand.

Pros of Playing 5-Card Draw

  • A simple concept allows beginners to pick up easily. Just 5 cards to evaluate per player.
  • Draw mechanics add engaging rising action compared to stud and community card games. Chance to craft your own hand.
  • Can play with high/low splits, wildcards, and lowball formats to change dynamics. Creativity in rule sets.

6. 2-7 Triple Draw Poker

Each player is dealt 5 cards face up, and there are three rounds. The players’ objective is to create the lowest hand. In each round, there is wagering, and each player may exchange cards with those dealt by the dealer.

How to Play 2-7 Triple Draw Poker?

In 2-7 Triple Draw, players are dealt 5 cards initially. The goal is to make the lowest 5-card hand possible using a 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or less. Players take turns drawing new cards to improve their hand, doing so 3 times total over 3 draw rounds with wagering in between.

Pros of Playing 2-7 Triple Draw Poker

  • Extreme focus on hand reading and opponent psychology to detect drawing patterns.
  • Winners are often non-standard poker hands that draw enthusiasts in, like bicycles (5 different ranked cards) or 7-low specials (75432).
  • Creativity and customization around house rules - jokers or other wildcards allowed, high-low splits, fantasyland bonus hands.

7. Chinese Poker

Chinese poker is different from traditional poker. It is a relatively new game. In Chinese poker, players draw cards from a deck and attempt to make the best hand. It is played on a points basis with no bets. At the end of the game, points are used to determine the winner. Pineapple poker, Double-check, Backhand, Turbo, Front Hand, and Middle Hand are the different types of poker games in the Chinese variant.

How to Play Chinese Poker?

Chinese Poker is played with 2-4 players using a standard 52-card deck. Each player is dealt 13 cards. Players then set their cards to form 3 poker hands - a 5-card backhand, 5-card middle hand, and 3-card front hand. Hands are set in descending strength from top to bottom.

Pros of Playing Chinese Poker

  • More focus on creatively arranging strong yet descending hands. New skills beyond just holdem hand strengths.
  • The fast-paced distribution of cards and quick arrangements means more instant gratification.
  • Bonus payouts for premium royalty formations, like straight flushes and triples, add a big jackpot element.
  • Head-to-head instead of winner-takes-all means fewer early exits after big pots are lost.
  • Easy-to-learn rules compared to most poker variants appeal to novices.

8. Razz

Razz poker is a type of stud poker similar to 7-card stud. The only difference is that in razz, the lowest 5-card hand wins.

How to Play Razz?

Razz is a 7-card stud variant where the lowest 5-card hand wins. Players are dealt 3 hole cards and 4 up cards with betting rounds in between. The key twist is that straights and flushes don't count against your hand value.

Pros of Playing Razz:

  • Having the worst hand is best, which reverses the psychological mindset into an intriguing lowball battle.
  • With flushes and straights out of the picture, reading complexity increases around new hand valuations and probabilities
  • Adjustment and check-calling opportunities flourish more often given the radically shifted winning hand dynamics. Great bluff spotting atmosphere.
  • Seeing opponents' doors opened or 9s upcards provides definitive, perfect information around potentially superb draws. Near pure information states.
  • Game encourages aggressively chasing draws towards awful looking hand prospects. Polar opposite of cautious holdem dynamics.

9. Badugi

Badugi poker is quite similar to conventional poker, but uses a high-ranking system to determine the best hand. Badugi is not very popular and is played in select online poker rooms. It is also played in mixed poker tournaments with other forms of poker.

How to Play Badugi Poker?

In Badugi, the goal is to make the lowest 4-card hand possible out of 13 cards dealt to you. You make a hand using only 1 of each suit ranked Ace to 4. Straights and flushes don't count. After an initial draw of 4 downcards, there are 3 draw rounds where you can draw up to 4 cards attempting to improve toward a badugi hand.

Pros of Playing Badugi Poker:

  • Incredibly unique hand dynamics compared to all other poker variants.
  • Mathematics behind probabilities and pot equity with these hand types require developing specialized new strategies and analysis.
  • Big draws like being one card away from a perfect 4-card badugi hand don't appear elsewhere in poker.

10. Horse Poker

Horse Poker incorporates the rules for five different poker variations: Hold 'em, Omaha hi/lo, Razz, Stud, and Eight-or-better variants. Horse game poker can be a little complex and is usually played with high stakes.

How to Play Horse Poker?

HORSE poker is a mixed game format, typically played as limit or fixed limit, where players rotate through hands of Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better (Stud 8). The games change every orbit or every couple of hands. Players need to master strategies across all game types.

Pros of Playing Horse Poker:

  • Tests a diverse range of poker skills - must adapt to and excel at limit holdem, split pot Omaha, razz, stud, and stud 8 game dynamics.
  • Varying formats prevent repetitive fatigue that can set in while just grinding the same game.
  • Easier to gain win rate edges over weaker opposition still adjusting to format changes.

11. Short Deck Poker

Short-deck is another variant of Texas Hold ’em. It is played with a deck of 36 cards. The rating system of Short-deck poker is a little different from the typical poker ranking method. The full house loses to flushes, as the 2s and 5s are omitted from the deck.

How to Play Short Deck Poker?

Short Deck Poker, often called 6+ Hold'em, uses a condensed 36-card deck without 2-5 cards. Play mirrors standard No Limit Hold'em, including blinds, betting rounds, and hand rankings, but the shortened deck means more powerful cards and hand values.

Pros of Playing Short Deck Poker:

  • More big cards and premium hands like top pairs, big flush draws, and sets mean massive pots and exciting swings.
  • Removing cards mathematically compresses hand ranges. This allows greater calculation and exploitation of opponent tendencies through a sharpened analytic lens.
  • Short Deck has a streamlined deck, which simplifies some aspects of the game fit for beginners.

Pros of Playing Badugi Poker:

  • Incredibly unique hand dynamics compared to all other poker variants.
  • Mathematics behind probabilities and pot equity with these hand types require developing specialized new strategies and analysis.
  • Big draws like being one card away from a perfect 4-card badugi hand don't appear elsewhere in poker.

Poker Categories


The most common poker variations can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Draw poker: In the games of this category, players are dealt a complete hand (hidden) and they then improve it by replacing cards. The most common of these variants is 5-card draw.
  • Stud poker: Each player receives a combination of face-up cards and face-down cards in multiple rounds. The most common of these variations are 5-card stud and 7-card stud. These two variants further have different formats.
  • Community card poker: In the variants of this category, each player's incomplete hidden hand is combined with shared face-up cards. The most common of these variations are Texas hold 'em and Omaha hold 'em.

With so many variations of poker and poker categories known to players, it is hard for players to restrict themselves to just one variant. The different types of poker games make poker immensely popular worldwide. Explore and try out new game variants today. Most variants have the same poker hand rankings, so they help you deepen and broaden your understanding of the game.


Poker Variants FAQ

How many different types of poker are there?

There are three main types or categories of poker games: community card poker, draw poker, and stud poker. There are many variants of poker played worldwide but all of them fall in these three categories.

What are the most popular poker variants?

The most popular poker variants are Texas Hold’em, Omaha Poker and Chinese Poker.

What are the different variants of poker?

2-7 triple draw, 5-card draw, 7-card stud, Badugi, Chinese poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Omaha High, 5-card Omaha, Razz, Horse Poker and Short-deck Poker are some of the variants of poker played worldwide.



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