Poker is a strategy-based card game that is enjoyed by many people. According to data from the World Poker Tour, there are over 100 million poker players in the world. This includes people playing in live tournaments and online, but possibly does not count people who play for fun with family and friends, so the actual number could be significantly higher.
There are multiple variations of poker, some of which are highly popular and others that can be harder to find. Almost every online poker website will offer Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha, but there are few that have Pai Gow poker tables or that let players compete at Crazy Pineapple.
Most players learn one version of the game and tend to stick to that version most of the time. Learning some of the other variants can help a poker player to improve their game, learn more about different strategies and expand their skill base, which can ultimately lead to better results when returning to their favoured version.
1: Texas Hold ‘Em
Texas Hold ‘Em is perhaps the most played version of poker in the world and one of the most popular online card games. Each player is dealt two secret cards and there can be up to five community cards dealt to the board. There are several rounds of betting and each player must make the best five-card hand out of the possible seven cards available to them.
Even within the game of Omaha there are several variations to learn, with the rules about winning hands changing depending on the version being played. In Omaha Hi/Lo, the pot is split between the player with the highest value hand and the player with the lowest value qualifying hand. In Pot Limit Omaha, players are dealt four hole cards and the final board contains five cards, but players just use two of their hole cards.
3: Pai Gow
Pai Gow poker is an unusual variant in that players compete against a banker rather than each other. Players are dealt seven cards and must make a hand of five and a lower hand of two. In the case of a tie, the banker always wins.
Just as with Omaha, there are variations on the Pineapple variation of poker. The game is similar to Texas Hold ‘Em but players are dealt three hole cards and must discard one. The round in which the spare card is discarded is determined by the version of Pineapple being played.
5: Five-Card Draw
Five-card draw is probably one of the earliest forms of poker and has almost become obsolete as other, more complex versions of the game have come into existence. It has a simple format with no community cards and a single option for players to switch any number of the cards in their hands for new ones from the deck.
6: Seven-Card Stud
Seven-card stud is one of the simplest formats for poker. Players are dealt seven cards, of which three are secret and four can be seen by other players, of which they must make the best possible hand of five cards.
7: Chinese Poker
Chinese poker is very different to most other forms of poker. Players are dealt 13 cards and make three hands in total – two of five cards and one of three cards, ranked strongest to weakest. Each hand is played in its own round with the three-card hand played last, winning a point for each opponent they beat in each hand.
Badugi, also referred to as Badougi, Paduki and Padooki, is a confusing and complex variation of poker. Players are dealt four cards and there are four rounds of drawing and betting, in which the player can swap any or all of their cards for new ones. The rules in this game state that the lowest possible hand wins, with all cards of different suits and no pairs in the hand.
9: Irish Poker
Irish poker is somewhat like a combination of Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em, but with a unique twist. Most of the game follows the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em, but players are initially dealt four hole cards and must choose two to discard before the flop.
Anaconda has similarities to seven-card stud but involves players passing cards to the player beside them each round, in a direction chosen by the dealer. They must pass three cards in the first round of betting, two in the second and one before the final bets are placed.
11: Fiery Cross
The game of Fiery Cross is also known in some circles as Iron Cross or Criss Cross. Each player has four hole cards dealt and there are five community cards, but these are dealt face-down to start. After each round of betting, one of the community cards is revealed. The player with the best hand of five from their hole cards and the community cards at the end wins.
Players who want to learn several variants of poker could try playing a few rounds of HORSE. This is not a variant of poker itself but rather a style of tournament that involves playing five different versions of poker. Players need to understand Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hi/Lo/ Razz, Stud and Eight-or-Better to be able to make it through a full round of HORSE.