Best Poker Variants

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Poker has been around since time immemorial, and in that time, it has managed to evolve into a multi-billion industry and a household name in several parts of the world. Today, there are so many types of poker games available at land-based gaming venues, as well as online. With so many different poker games available for players to choose from, it can be daunting to find one that appeals to you, especially if you are a newcomer.

Omaha is a lot like Texas Hold’em at first glance, but there are some important and fun. Best Poker Variants That You Must Try It's no secret to thegamegroup.com that there's a deluge of online poker variants today. Some are more well-known than others and are the ones used mainly on web-based waging establishments and tournaments, leading to players only knowing one side of the market.

Now, the choice of the best poker games for you will undoubtedly be subjective based on your tastes and preferences. Even so, we are going to help you narrow on the best ones to make everything much easier for you. With our poker games list, you will have all the information that you need to get started on a fantastic gaming adventure.

Different Types of Poker Games

Texas Hold’em

My poker rating: 4.5/5

It goes without saying that due to its popularity, Texas Hold’em is considered to be one of the best poker games to play. This is one of the reasons why it made it to the top of our list as one of if not the most fun poker game. Enjoyed by millions of people across the globe, and each of these people has lots of good things to say about it.

Texas Hold’em is a very straightforward game, which means that it is relatively easy to understand, learn, and improve at. Furthermore, there are tons of informational material detailing gameplay guidelines as well as tips and tricks. All of which come in hand for both regular players and newcomers alike. Even tournament lovers have fun with this one since it boasts of being the game of choice for the biggest games and tournaments.

As simple as it may sound, Texas Hold’em is not an easy game – this is another thing that contributes to its popularity. What this means is that the game is not easy to master and presents players with some pretty exciting and action-packed challenges. Players are forced to apply their wit and use their skills of observation to better their chances of winning. In fact, this is the reason why poker is often fronted as a sport.

Texas Hold’em seen as being too volatile, and while this excites many people, some poker players simply do not prefer it. It is also worth noting that, compared to other poker games, Texas Hold’em’s level of play is usually higher.

5-Card Draw

My poker rating: 4/5

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For people who love the draw variants of poker games, 5-Card Draw is a great choice. As its name suggests, the goal of this game is to make the highest-ranked 5-card poker hand. It starts with all the players being dealt with their own separate hands, which are hidden from their opponents. This factor is what makes this game so interesting since players can build strong hands, but they will have no idea about the strength of the opponents’ hands.

While it is not as popular as Texas Hold’em, 5-Card Draw certainly holds its own when it comes to the poker market share. Moreover, it is straightforward to learn – all that you will need as a beginner is some patience. Thankfully, it features some elements that are characteristic of other popular online poker games. For instance, the hand-ranking follows the hierarchy where the royal flush is the highest value, while the high card is the lowest value.

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Since, as mentioned earlier, you are not able to see your opponents’ cards, mind games and bluffs are a massive part of 5-Card Draw. These make the game quite interesting, especially if you mix a few strategies into your gameplay. Winning is certainly not easy, but the fact that you have to put in some work is what makes the game worth playing.

Online players are the luckiest bunch when it comes to this game. Finding live games is sort of an uphill task. However, players will have plenty of choices when it comes to online versions.

7-Card Stud

My poker rating: 4/5

Before the current Texas Hold’em craze hit, Seven Card Stud or 7-Card Stud was the go-to poker variant for most, if not all, poker pros. Now, this does not mean that the game has been sidelined. In fact, it is still one of the most enjoyable poker games to play since it relatively slower, and players with excellent memory often excel at it. It is not as action-packed as other community card games, but it still worth giving a try.

7-Card Stud poker is easy to learn and understand – the goal of the game is to create the best possible 5-card poker hand. Just like 5-Card Draw poker, it is a strategically challenging game since the players only have partial information. It might start slow, but this forces some rather unforgettable action that nearly all players will enjoy.

The goal of any players at a 7-Card Stud table will be to make the best five-card hand from a total of seven cards. If you have great eyesight and memory, you can keep track of your opponents’ hands to give you an edge. Its only shortcoming is the fact that it is a relatively slow burner.

Chinese Poker

My poker rating: 3/5

Of all the different poker games that I have ever played, Chinese poker stands out for lots of reasons. However, the most significant thing you will need to know is that it is quite different from other types of poker. It does not use the traditional game patterns that apply to most other poker games. Despite that, Chinese poker involves a lot of fun and excitement, which makes it an excellent choice for just about any kind of poker player.

The game is played with a total of four players each of whom is dealt 13 cards that they arrange into three different poker hands. Each player’s hand is scored against their opponents to see who wins. A point awarded every single hand that is won against another player but players with select royalties for winning big hands or even all three hands.

It is a straightforward game that you can dive right into with a few simple steps. If you are the kind of player who loves to sweat cards, you will feel right at home with Chinese poker. Still, it is essential to note that the scoring can be a little challenging to grasp, even more so if you are just starting. Other than that, once you get the hang of it, you will not be looking back.

Short Deck

My poker rating: 4/5

In recent years, Short Deck poker has been a popular selection in both land-based and online gaming venues. It is one of the popular poker variants played at tournaments globally. Sounds familiar? Well, that’s because Short deck poker is essentially Texas Hold’em albeit with a few key differentiating factors.

The things that differentiate it from other poker games include the fact that no blinds are posted. Every number card 2 through 5 is also removed from the deck (hence its name). Lastly, the action starts with an additional ante being posted by the dealer. Doubtless, this is a pretty massive departure from what Texas Hold’em players have gotten accustomed to over the years. Different strategies will also apply in this case.

Since you play the game with fewer cards, it is exhilarating to participate in since there is higher variance; there are more opportunities for players to make stronger hands. For newcomers, learning short deck poker can be a little daunting. It is a relatively new variant poker, and thus there aren’t many comprehensive guides about it. However, if you’re up for learning a new casino game, this should not be a problem.

Names

Omaha Hi

My poker rating: 4/5

Arguably, Omaha Hi is the second most popular variant of poker on the planet. As such, it has lots to offer poker lovers. In many ways, the gameplay is pretty similar to what one would expect from Texas Hold’em even though there are some key differences.

In this case, players still need to make the best 5-card hand like in Texas Hold’em, but instead of 2 cards, 4 cards are dealt. They must then use the 2 of the hole cards and 3 of the 5 community cards at the showdown. Making a good hand is relatively easy when playing Omaha Hi, something that applies to all the players, thus making for an action-packed gaming adventure.

Learning this case is super easy – it gets even better is you have experience with Texas Hold’em. There is also the possibility of building a pretty strong gaming strategy to give you an edge at the gaming tables. As you go in, be sure to consider the fact that the variance in Omaha Hi is relatively high. The best way of going about this would be by using different combinations of hole cards. Most avid Omaha Hi players do not mind this variance and consider it to be a part of the things that make the game so enjoyable.

Omaha Hi-Lo

My poker rating: 3/5

As its name suggests, Omaha Hi-Lo is simply a variant of Omaha. Also known as Omaha 8-or-Better, this game offers just as much of action as Omaha Hi. The only difference between the two is the fact that in Omaha Hi-Lo, the pot is divided into halves between the highest-ranked 5-card poker hand and the lowest one. It is not nearly as popular as Omaha Hi or Texas Hold’em, but it keeps loyal players coming back for more.

Now, since players have to keep both the high and low combinations in mind, the game can be rather complex and thus not as easy to learn. You will certainly need a lot of patience to figure out what this game is all about. Fortunately, the fact that the pot is divided into two hands (the highest and the lowest), it is much easier for players to win.

When it comes to building a great strategy, Omaha Hi-Lo is always quite challenging to master. Still, some techniques can give you an edge at the gaming tables. Being able to read your opponents’ non-verbal cues is one of the best ways of bettering your odds. Now, this will require a lot of dedication and keenness to pull off correctly. Bluffing is not very common in Omaha Hi-Lo since players are trying their best to build the highest and/or lowest hands.

HORSE

My poker rating: 3.5/5

HORSE is technically not one single variant of poker but rather a combination of five different types. The name of this variant is an acronym for Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud, and Eight or Better. It is a special type of poker. Each of the games listed above is played for one round before starting on the one that follows it.

In most cases, HORSE is played at high-stakes live games but that it is the perfect choice for any player who prefers non-Hold’em games with fixed betting limits. The downside of this is that the game might feel a little slow and boring for players who prefer more fast-paced action.

Naturally, since it combines several different types of poker, HORSE is not very beginner-friendly. However, once you have all the games at your fingertips, you can win big time at some of the tables. Learning as you play is perhaps the best way of knowing the ins and outs of HORSE, but if you have experience with all five games separately, you will be all good to go.

All in all, HORSE is built for players who love switching between different poker variants instead of being restricted to just one.

Razz

My poker rating: 3.5/5

Unlike other popular poker types, the goal of Razz players is to have the lowest hand instead of the highest. A unique twist to the game of poker, and even though it does not boast of the same popularity that other poker variants enjoy, it certainly appeals to a considerably large audience.

If you are familiar with Seven Card Stud, you will be happy to know that its gameplay is pretty similar to Razz. It is a limit game that follows the same betting pattern, including the small bet, a big bet, antes, completion, and bring-in.

The best thing about Razz is the fact that it offers a significant edge to poker players who are willing to put in the work at the tables. You will have to be very keen and try to keep track of the cards just as you would in Stud. While the game is particularly popular among older poker players who enjoy the old-school feel, newer players can still quickly learn and enjoy it. Since it features a relatively slow or laid-back element to its gameplay, getting started is often very easy. The sluggish nature of the game can be seen as its most significant downfall, especially for players who prefer fast-paced action at the poker tables.

2-7 Triple Draw

My poker rating: 3.5/5

In 2-7 Triple Draw poker, the goal is to make the best possible five-card low hand with aces being considered the highest. Flushes and straights are used in 2-7 Triple Draw and have the same merit as their popular poker variant counterparts. It bears some similarities with most of the other popular variants of poker games. For instance, there is a dealer button and blinds, which can also be found in Hold’em. Moreover, it is essentially a lowball twist of the very popular five-card draw poker. It involves a lot of mind games as players try to outwit each other.

Since each player can only see the five cards they receive from the dealer before the betting begins, they have very little information to rely on. This is what makes it so entertaining. Getting started is, thankfully, relatively easy as it is not too difficult to learn and understand. You will be able to grasp the concepts quickly without having to push yourself too much.

Its simplicity is reflected in the gameplay, which involves three draws occurring for each and every hand. A round of betting follows each of the draw rounds, starting with the first player sitting to the left of the button we mentioned earlier. There is a total of four betting rounds.

Unfortunately, if fixed-limit games are not your cup of tea, you might want to try out a different type of poker.

Badugi

My poker rating: 3/5

Here, instead of the traditional five cards, the players are only dealt with four face-down cards. It also features a different hand ranking system, which further points to its uniqueness. Badugi is a relatively new type of poker game that has been growing steadily, something that is pretty impressive even though it is yet to become as popular as other renowned poker variants. While it is typically not easy to find Badugi tables, the game is a very popular selection in mixed event tournaments all across the world. The goal of the game is to makes the lowest unsuited and unpaired hand possible.

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For the simple reason that it differs immensely from other poker games, Badugi can be very challenging to beginners. Its hand ranking system sets it apart from other Lowball types of poker games, which means players start from scratch. Some elements seem to have crossed over from 2-7 Triple Draw, but be ready to put in some work if you intend to master the game.

Badugi players heavily rely on mind games to outwit each other. If you like that kind of action, you will enjoy playing this game. Just be sure to remember that there are no face-up cards, and telling what your opponent has is going to be super challenging.

Pineapple

My poker rating: 4/5

If you play Texas Hold’em and loved it, Pineapple is going to be an excellent game for you. It is not nearly as popular, but lots of people have grown to love it simply because it is not only easy to learn, but it is also straightforward to play.

One key difference between Pineapple and Texas Hold’em is the fact that the players are dealt three hole cards instead of two. This might be a little confusing, but it should not take long for one to grasp all of the new concepts and adjust appropriately to the variation.

The best part about playing Pineapple is the fact that it is often much more fun to play since players are dealt with an extra hole card when a gaming round begins. This means that there is a higher chance of being dealt with a relatively strong hand. As a result, it is more likelihood that you will be involved in pots.

Still, we have to acknowledge that it can be somewhat daunting to adjust especially if you have gotten good at Texas Hold’em. More players might be involved in Pineapple games, which makes it quite easy to be kicked and dominated as everyone could potentially have strong or playable hands.

Easy Poker Games

  1. Texas Hold’em

My ‘ease of play’ rating: 5/5

The most popular type of poker, this variant certainly has a lot of appeals. Whether you are playing for real money or just casually, you are assured of tons of fun and excitement. As if that is not enough, the game is straightforward to learn, and the gameplay is pretty straightforward. That said, getting good at it is not difficult, and there are a plethora of different level tables to suit your gaming style.

  1. Short Deck

My ‘ease of play’ rating: 4/5

If you are looking for some action-packed real money gaming, Short Deck is for you. This poker variant is a great option not just because it is easy to learn but also because it is very enjoyable. With several elements crossing over from popular types of poker like Hold’em this game offers its players an experience like no other.

  1. Omaha Hi

My ‘ease of play’ rating: 4/5

This easy-to-learn and fun-to-play poker game lets players use different combinations of their hole cards to improve the strength of their hands. It is exciting to be a part of, and the winning potential is pretty massive given its reputation.

FAQ

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How do you play poker card games?

Poker card games can be played in different formats, with the rules and gameplay varying based on the type you choose. It is typically as simple as finding a poker table but to make it easier for you, we have detailed some of the types of poker and how they are played in this guide.

Is poker a game of skill?

While there is an element of luck involved in poker games, players have to use their wit and employ strategies to better their chances of winning. This makes it a game of skill since a lot of well-thought-out decisions are involved.

Are home poker games illegal?

No, they are not. So long as you, your family, or friends are playing friendly poker games at the comfort of your homes, you will not be breaking any laws.

How do you run a legal poker game?

All you need to do is to ensure that only your friends and family are playing on a non-commercial basis. Poker laws vary from state to state, and in some areas, you need the necessary licenses to run the commercial poker games legally.