The Best Poker Variations for Beginners

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A woman holding a poker hand at the table with casino chips in the background.
BetMGM Feb 22, 2022, 12:41 AM

Poker is undoubtedly one of the most popular online casino games available today and you’ll need a fair amount of skill to find success, unlike many others such as slots and roulette. Knowing the rules and the value of each hand only makes up half of what’s needed, as you’ll need a strong mind and the ability to make decisions under pressure, especially if you’re hoping to play in online poker tournaments

As a new player, you’ll more than likely have lots of questions regarding the different types of poker games that are available. Here we’ll cover some of the most popular poker variations and how they’re played. This will help you decide which one appeals to you most.

Different poker variations for beginners

Some online poker games are more popular than others and this is due to the difference in hand values, the number of betting rounds and the actions that are taken between each round. Let’s check out a few of the most popular types – each has its own attraction.

Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em poker is arguably the most popular variation and is widely accessible at land-based and online casinos as well as being the mainstay poker variant played at many online poker tournaments. This variant can be played with anything from two up to 10 players at the same table, which can greatly affect your position at the table. But whether you’re playing live poker or online, the principles of Texas Hold’em are the same.

At the start of the game, the two players sitting to the left of the dealer each have to place a forced bet known as a blind (which helps to build the pot.) This signals the start of the hand, when each player receives two “hole” cards ‒ hole cards are private that can only be viewed by the player and these are always dealt face down. 

The game begins with the player to the left of the blinds, who will place their bet. The action moves around the table with players either checking, raising or folding so that everyone still playing has bet an equal amount. At any point, a player can fold if they do not wish to continue. Once the opening betting round has ended, the dealer deals “the flop” face-up in the center of the table (real or virtual.) These are the first three of five “community cards,” which any player can use to improve their hand. The flop “reveal” is followed by another round of betting. 

The final two community cards are revealed one at a time, with betting taking place between each, which are the turn (or “fourth street,”) and the final card is the river (or “fifth street.”) The aim of the game is to create a five-card hand using the best cards that were made available and beat everyone else’s according to a particular hierarchy of hands


Also known as Omaha High, Omaha poker is regarded as one of the most profitable poker variations for skilled players. This variation uses the same hand hierarchy as you’d find with games such as 7 Card Stud and Texas Hold’em, with the best hand being the royal flush and the lowest hand being the high card. (Once you become familiar with what hand beats what things become far more intuitive.) It plays similarly to Texas Hold’em, with five community cards, but in this game, each player receives four hole cards, and forms their best hand using two of these cards with three of the community cards. 

The reason for the immense popularity of this poker variant is that you don’t need to wait very long for a good opportunity to play as, by its design, the game provides the opportunity to achieve higher hand values just by giving you the choice of four hole cards rather than Texas Hold’em’s two. Literally, by having the extra hole cards you have more playable holdings and hand equities may also run closer to one another. If you’re keen on playing a more complicated version of this game, Omaha hi-lo can be much more fun as the pot can be split to reward the highest and the lowest hands.

Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker differs from other poker variations as you’ll go up against the dealer. This is a simple version that starts with placing an ante bet, which is a forced bet that has each player wager the same amount into the pot before the dealer starts. You’ll then be provided with three cards that are dealt face down and the same applies to the dealer.

You’ll be allowed to look at your hand and decide if it’s worth betting on. If you decide to fold, the dealer will collect the cash along with any other bets that were placed. If you choose to play the hand and place another bet, the cards will be turned over and if your hand beats the dealer’s, you win. 

This is a very straightforward poker variation and it’s perfect for beginners who would like to play poker online. This game doesn’t require any intricate strategies and it’s a good starting point to help you familiarize yourself with the various hands before moving onto Texas Hold’em and more complicated variants. 

Short Deck

Not usually seen in poker tournaments, Short Deck poker is played with 36 cards, with cards in all suits from two to five removed from the deck. Another rule change that has been implemented for this poker variant is quite radical: A flush beats a full house! This game adds a fun spin on a traditional game, and the odds of drawing a strong hand are quite high. 

Short Deck poker is another great starting point for beginners, but if you’re planning to progress to more complicated poker variations we would avoid playing games that have odd rules. If you’re not, this can become a fun pastime for you. 

A word of caution

If you’re new to playing poker it’s really important that you set a budget for how much you want to spend on betting, because it’s very easy to get carried away and swept up in the excitement, especially with more than one round of betting in some games. Decide what your bankroll will be away from the game before you start, and stick to it.

Other variations

There are a handful of poker variations, but each one can be placed in one of three categories. These are:

  • Community card poker
  • Draw poker
  • Stud poker.

Community card poker

As we’ve already seen, this is a type of poker that involves shared cards that are used to improve a hand that’s hidden from other players. Common versions of community card poker include popular online poker games such as Omaha and Texas Hold’em. The shared cards are provided by the dealer and are placed at the center of the table. The nature of the cards will be specified by the type of game that you’re playing, and some poker variants have elaborate rules and combinations.

Draw poker

Draw poker is any variation that consists of players being dealt a full hand before the starting round. Players are then required to “draw” or replace cards to develop their hands for subsequent rounds. Popular draw poker variations include Five-card Draw and Seven-card Draw. Draw poker games aren’t common when it comes to tournaments as community card games are preferred, but they are still popular in land-based casinos and online. 

Stud poker

With stud poker games you’ll receive a combination of face up and face down cards that are provided over multiple betting rounds. These games are also non-positional, so the player that places the first bet on each round will change. Seven-card stud and Caribbean stud poker are two common variations that typically see online play. 

Have fun playing online poker with BetMGM

As a new player, you should get the best online poker experience and BetMGM is the perfect online casino to get you started. With plenty of tournaments available and the BetMGM Poker School to ensure that you have all of the information needed, this will be the best choice for your new favorite pastime. Register at BetMGM and access not just poker but all of our thrilling online casino games too!

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.