Poker variants guide
Posted in Guides December 5, 2020

Poker variants for all tastes: beginner’s guide

Poker is one of the most famous card games around the world. It has been immortalized in several movies and popularized by dozens of TV shows, and you will definitely hit the tables at least once during your adult life.

Besides preparing your best poker face, you must master the game, and here you should know that there are several poker variants, each with different rules and that are played with different numbers of cards, etc.

What are the most popular poker variants?

The following poker variants stand out from the crowd as the most popular:

Texas Hold’em

This is the poker variant played at the most prestigious events worldwide, probably the one you have seen on TV channels like ESPN. It is played with 2-hole cards and five community cards.

It has become so popular in the last years that many videogames have added tasks in which the player must play a poker hand to complete a mission.

5 Card Draw

As its name suggests, this poker variant is played with five cards. Its main difference is that there are no community cards, and players “draw” their own hand by discarding cards in each betting round. It is common to see 5 Card Draw games on TV shows like Friends.


Omaha is a poker variant that is played with four hole cards. The player must use exactly two of his own cards and three community cards to get the best possible poker hand. It is usually played in a “Pot-Limit” format, meaning that the maximum bets are capped to the money already in the center of the table.

Are there other variants?

Yes! Besides the three poker variants above, several others are played in casinos around the world:

  • Seven card stud: a complex card game in which the player receives 7 cards, four visible up-cards, and three private down-cards.
  • Lowball: a variant in which the hand ranking is inverted.
  • Short deck Hold’em: also known as 6+ Hold’em, low cards (from 2 to 5) are removed from the deck.

Usually, a player specializes in one poker variant, but some professionals prefer HORSE, an acronym that stands for Hold’em – Omaha – Razz – Stud – Eight or Better, a game in which the format changes throughout the game.

However, in poker, some common concepts are used in all formats:

  1. Bets: the bets can be “no-limit,” “pot-limit,” or “fixed limit,” according to the maximum amount allowed per bet.
  2. Streets: for games with community cards, there are usually three streets: flop, turn, and river.
  3. Hand ranking: the hands you can form with your cards follow the same pattern, with only some tweaks in lowball or short deck games that anyway are based on the original ranking.

Tournaments or cash games

Besides the poker variant, there are also two standard game formats: tournaments or cash games. The first one convokes several players who pay a buy-in in exchange for a fixed amount of chips, and the player who finishes in the first position claims a big prize. In cash games, the player exchange money for chips at a flat rate and play with fixed blinds for an undefined time.

Now that you know the basics of poker variants, you are ready to keep studying the game and hit the tables of your preferred poker room.

5 Card Draw, Omaha, Poker, Texas Hold´em


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