If you’re new to poker, chances are you only really know about Texas Hold’em. This is the most popular of all types 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.
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of poker games you might come across, 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 a casino, it’s important to get a firm grasp on some of the lingo that you’re going to hear. All types of poker use terms and phrases you won’t find in other games and you should get to know them as soon as possible in order to play with confidence. 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. If a player doesn’t have enough chips to match the bet, they can go all-in and create a split pot so that other players have the option to raise the bet further.
- 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 when it’s their turn to play (they can choose by how much, depending on the table limit).
- Fold: A player folds to end their involvement in any particular hand. Folding is allowed at any time in all variations of poker, but the player no longer has a claim in the pot and can’t make further bets for that hand.
Variations of poker
Considering how many types of poker there are, it would be impractical to name all the different kinds of poker games 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 for quite some time now, Texas Hold’em can 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 from a host of tables with distinct themes and varying stakes.
To start a round of Texas Hold’em, 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. The dealer position moves to the small blind player after every hand to ensure that each pot has a fair stake.
After blinds are placed, each player is dealt two “hole” cards (face-down) which must be kept secret from the rest of the players. 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 variations 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 a unique format compared to the other variations of poker in that there are no hole cards or community cards. Rather, each player receives their own hand – some cards 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 then receives two face-down cards and one face-up card. The player with the lowest face-up card will go first by either making 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 who 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 the pot.
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 the blinds phase, 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). One more round of betting occurs before the game reaches showdown, with the best hand of all the remaining players taking the pot.
The different ways to play poker
Of course, as well as the many different forms 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, a live dealer and a real money pot. 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 variations 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 of real casinos, but they’re incredibly convenient. You can access them from any digital device, anytime and anywhere as long as you have an online connection.
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 part is deciding what suits your gameplay best!
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