If you’re new to poker, chances are you only really know about Texas Hold’em. This is the most popular type of poker and is the one you’re most likely to see in movies or watch at the World Series. However, there’s a whole host of other great in-person and online poker variations that you should know about.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the poker game variants, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi, 7-Card Stud, and more. We’ll also quickly go over some of the most important terms any new poker player should know and the different ways that you can enjoy playing your favorite card game.
Terms every beginner poker player should know
Before you play poker online or at the casino, it’s important to get a firm grasp on some of the lingo that you’re going to hear. These are the most common terms every beginner should know before playing poker:
- Ante: This is the minimum amount you must put down to get in on each hand of the game. Each player puts in this nominal value, which stays the same throughout.
- Blinds: Chips that are put on the table before cards are dealt. You’ll typically get two blinds: the small and the big blind. The blinds rotate from player to player with each new deal, and they ensure that money is wagered on every hand.
- Call: A “call” shows that a player will match the raised amount when a new wager is placed.
- Check: When it’s a player’s turn and no one has made a bet before, they can choose to “check” instead of raise. This marks the end of their turn and play passes to the next player.
- Raise: The player wants to increase the table bet (they can choose by how much, depending on the table limit).
Variations of poker
There is such a massive range of poker varieties and it would be impossible to name all of them here. These are just some of the most popular versions of poker that you’re likely to find.
Undoubtedly the most popular version of poker at the moment, Texas Hold-em will be found at any online casino or land-based establishment. It’s also likely to be the featured game for most casinos, and players can choose between a host of tables and stakes.
At the start of the game, the two players to the left of the “dealer button” have to put forward bets called blinds. The small blind is placed by the player to the left of the dealer button, and the big blind is then placed by the next player. After each player is dealt two “hole” cards (face down) which must be kept secret from the rest of the players, the play starts with the player to the left of the big blind, and the game goes clockwise. At this stage, players can “call,” “raise,” or “fold.” Once the first round of betting is done, the next round begins with three cards dealt face up onto the table.
These cards are “community cards,” and are open for all players to use to improve their hand. After the next betting round, one more community card is dealt, which is known as the “turn”; this is followed by another betting round and then the last community card, the “river.”
After one more betting round, the remaining players must then show their cards. Players can use any combination of the two cards in their hand and the five community cards to form their best possible five-card hand – and the best hand wins the game.
Another one of the most popular varieties of poker is Omaha Hi (sometimes just called “Omaha”). The “hi” in this game is because the player with the highest hand will take the entire pot at showdown. Normally, there’ll be a pot-limit in Omaha Hi.
All in all, this game is very similar to Texas Hold’em; the only difference is that there are four hole cards dealt to each player, instead of two. This means that when players are trying to form their best possible five-card poker hand, they’ll use just two of their four hole cards, and only three of the five community cards. Because there are more cards in this game, it actually becomes much easier to create a good hand combination.
Before Texas Hold’em became the main game on the block, stud poker was the most common poker version around town. This is completely different from the other versions we have spoken about, in that there are no hole or community cards. Rather, each player receives their own hand – some face-down and hidden, others face-up and visible to the other players.
All players must put forward an ante if they are dealt into a hand. Each player will receive two face-down cards and one face-up card. The player with the lowest face-up card will go first. They must make a small “bring-in” bet or a complete bet. The betting keeps going in a clockwise direction.
After this round, the players that remain will be dealt another face-up card. This time, the player with the highest face-up card has to act and make a bet of a smaller increment. Fifth and sixth “streets” are up next, with two additional face-up cards being dealt. The player that has the highest combined value of face-up cards acts first on both these streets, and they must use the larger of the betting increments.
Next up is seventh street, where each remaining player receives a final face-down card. They must now make the best five-card hand with the seven cards they have. Showdown is reached after the last betting round, and the best hand wins.
In this version of poker, players simply want to make the highest-ranked poker hand (five cards). All players are dealt their own hand, which remains hidden from the rest of the players.
In the same way as Hold’em, 5-Card Draw starts with a small blind and a big blind before the cards are dealt. After this, each player gets five cards. The player seated to the left of the big blind starts the betting; in this round, players can fold, call, or raise. Any remaining players can then “draw” between none and five cards to strengthen their hand (they discard the appropriate number from their hand before picking up). There is one more round of betting before the game reaches showdown. The best hand of all the remaining players takes the pot.
The different ways to play poker
Of course, as well as the many types of poker, there are also various ways of playing this popular casino table game. How you play poker will depend on what you want to get out of the experience. Let’s take a look at some of your options:
Before you begin playing online poker with real money, it’s always good to practice a little first. If you’re a beginner poker player, then this is probably where you’ll be for a while before you find your feet. Casual poker is incredibly popular and it is a great way to figure it all out and get more gameplay experience before taking it any further. This could be a relaxed game with friends with little more than a bottle of whiskey at stake, or it could be a monthly meet-up with other poker players with very little on the table. The main aim of casual poker – whether you play online or in person – is to enjoy yourself, make some friends, learn more about the game, and maybe win some money along the way.
Of course, you’ve likely seen the World Series of Poker or the World Poker Tour Championship on TV at some stage and been blown away by the amount of money at stake. Competition poker is definitely for more advanced players, although there are novice competitions that you can take advantage of (again, start small). The type of competition can vary wildly depending on whether it’s played in a cash-game format or tournament format.
In-person poker vs online poker
Just a decade or so ago, online poker was not really something that you’d be able to consider; you’d either have to head down to the casino or start up a poker night with your friends. Now, however, you have a huge array of poker games at your fingertips with the click of a button.
Playing in a casino is an unbelievable experience – with the buzz, electrifying atmosphere, and camaraderie (and competition) among fellow gamblers. Online casinos may lack the social element somewhat, but they’re incredibly convenient: you can access them from any digital device, any time, anywhere. Most of the best online poker sites also now host live dealer games, which offer the best of both worlds. In these, you still play poker online, but deal with professional croupiers, who add a whole heap of the live casino experience to your game. Some even have a chat room attached to the game so you can communicate in real time with other players. Of course, it’s totally up to you which type of poker you wish to play and how you want to play it: the fun bit is deciding what suits your gameplay best.
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