The Best Poker Variations for Beginners

min read
A woman holding a poker hand at the table with casino chips in the background.
BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:15 AM

Poker is one of the best online casino games for beginners and, unlike casino games such as slots and roulette, you’ll need a fair amount of skill to find success. 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 likely have lots of questions regarding the different types of poker games that are available. Here we’ll cover some of the most common poker game variations and how they’re played. This will help you decide which one appeals to you most.

Different Poker Variations for Beginners

So, how many types of poker are there? There are three main classifications of poker – draw poker, stud poker, and community card poker – each of which has a number of variations. 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 of poker for beginners.

Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em poker is arguably the most popular variation and is widely accessible at both land-based and online casinos. It’s also the preferred poker variant played during online poker tournaments. This variant can be played with anything from two to 10 players at the same table, which can greatly affect your position at the table. But whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em online or live, the principles remain 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. Always dealt face-down, hole cards are private and can only be viewed by the player. 

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 don’t 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 round, which are the turn (or “fourth street,”) and the river (or “fifth street.”) The aim of the game is to create the best possible five-card hand using the hole and community cards. The strongest hand, according to a particular hierarchy of hands, wins. 

Omaha

Also known as Omaha High, Omaha poker is regarded as one of the best poker games for skilled players, being that it is the most profitable. 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. 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, which makes it one of the easiest poker games to learn. This is a simple version that starts with placing an ante bet, which is a forced bet that requires each player to wager the same amount into the pot before the dealer starts. You’ll then be provided with three cards that are dealt face down – 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 on to 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 to 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 other poker variants, each of which 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 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 at 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. 

Build Your Experience With BetMGM

As a new player, you should get the best virtual 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!

Check out our online poker blog for more poker tips for beginners.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.