Today, if you were to mention poker, most people would immediately think of Texas Hold’em. This poker variant has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity since the early 2000s. However, there are many other exciting poker variations that people play, including some you may never have heard of and some poker variants that are great for beginners.
We take a look at offline and online poker and share the most popular poker variants that you can play, their origins and how to play them.
4. Five Card Draw
Five Card Draw may not be that popular in casino and competitive poker play, but it is still played by many people who enjoy it for its simplicity. The goal of this game is to make the strongest five-card hand.
This poker variant allows for a maximum of six players. Before receiving their cards, each player must place an ante bet. The dealer then gives each player a card until they all have five cards.
The action kicks off with the player left of the dealer, with each player deciding whether to check, flop or raise. A player must call (match a raise) if another player raises or fold if they choose not to match the raise. Once each player has made their decision on what to do, they must choose which cards to keep and which cards to discard. The dealer will then deal each player new cards, depending on how many cards they chose not to keep.
Each player then chooses to check, flop or raise, with players needing to again match a raise or fold. With this new set of five cards, players must reveal their hands to decide who the winner is.
If all players but one choose to fold, the last remaining person in play claims the pot.
The origins of this variation are unclear, with different sources offering their own histories of this poker variant. The goal of this game is to make the strongest hand of five cards using the four cards in your hand plus the five community cards. If you’ve ever played Texas Hold’em, this variation will feel like that but taken up a notch.
When it comes down to it, Omaha is a community card game in which up to 10 players can take part. This game either features a dedicated dealer or a player who takes on the dealer role. The player to the left of the dealer is the small blind, while the player to the left of the small blind is the big blind.
This variant of poker consists of five rounds of play. The pre-flop round, the post-flop round, the turn, the river and the showdown. Each player receives four hole cards during the pre-flop round. The small blinds and big blinds place their bets.
Play continues clockwise from the big blind, with each player deciding if they want to check, fold or raise. A player must call (match another player’s raise) or fold if they choose not to. Once all the players have made their decisions and the bets have been placed, the community cards are revealed. This is the post-flop round. Again, players decide to check, fold or raise. Then the turn round begins and another community card is revealed. Yet again, players decide to check, fold or raise. The final community card is revealed during the river, and players decide to check, fold or raise.
The last round is the showdown, and if there are more than two players, either the person to the left of the big blind or the last person who bet or raised reveals their hand. This is followed by the remaining players. The player with the highest value hand wins!
2. Seven Card Stud
Before Texas Hold’em came along, there was Seven Card Stud. This was the most popular poker variant before Texas Hold’em exploded in popularity in the early 2000s. The goal of this game is to make the strongest five-card hand using the seven cards you get throughout a round.
A game of Seven Card Stud can feature up to eight players. The game begins with each player placing an ante bet into the pot. The dealer, who can be a player or a dedicated dealer, deals each player three cards. Two of these cards are face down, while one is face up.
The player with the lowest value card facing up opens the betting. This is also known as the “bring in” bet. But in the event of a tie, alphabetical order comes into play with the first letter of the suit of each card used to decide which player goes first. After the first bettor has been decided, each player clockwise from their position can choose to check, fold or raise. Just like many other poker games, a raise must be called (a matching bet placed) or the player must fold.
A fourth card is dealt face-up. This is known as the fourth street. The player who receives the highest value fourth card begins the next round of betting, with bets continuing clockwise. This same pattern takes place for the fifth card (fifth street) and sixth card (sixth street).
The seventh and final card is dealt face down. This is known as the seventh street. The holder of the highest value card that’s visible starts betting, as with the previous streets.
After all the bets are completed, the players reveal all seven of their cards. The player with the strongest five-card hand wins.
1. Texas Hold’em
It shouldn’t surprise any poker veterans to find Texas Hold’em at the number one spot on our list. This poker variant offers players a great balance between luck and skill, as well as being easy to learn but hard to master. It’s these characteristics that make it the first choice for the main events at so many popular poker tournaments.
It’s also the variant that’s seen in most popular media with great movies like “Rounders” and “Casino Royale” featuring protagonists who play Texas Hold’em. The true life story of Chris Moneymaker, an unknown poker player who took the professional poker world by storm, has also helped raise the profile of poker and Texas Hold’em thanks to his World Series of Poker 2003 win.
Texas Hold’em poker is a community card game that is run by a dedicated dealer in a casino or competitive poker venue. If there isn’t a dedicated dealer available, such as in a home environment, each player has a turn to be the dealer, starting with one player and then moving around the table in a clockwise direction. The game can have a maximum of nine players. The aim of the game is for a player to win the pot in each round of play.
The pot is seeded by the small blind and big blind, who have to put money into the pot as an incentive. The small blind and big blind rotate clockwise around the table in the spirit of fairness so that each player has to make a contribution towards the starting pot. The small blind is seated to the left of the dealer, while the big blind is seated to the left of the small blind. The pot also grows as players make bets each round.
Each round of poker starts with the dealer giving each player two cards. After each player has received their two cards, there are five rounds of play. During each round, players can decide to check, fold or raise. Players must also call or match another player’s raise – if another player does so – or fold their hands if they choose not to match the raise.
The first round is the pre-flop round, where no community cards have been shared. Then there is the flop (where three community cards are shared), turn (where an additional community card is shared), and the river (where the final community card is shared).
Finally, there is the showdown, where two or more remaining players must reveal their hands in order for a winner to be declared.
If only one player remains during any round of play, they may claim the pot without revealing their cards.
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