Have you ever wondered how many poker variants are out there? There's more than one way to deal and play, as the world of poker expands into three categories that house a dozen variants of the game altogether.
If you're so eager to check out all these types of poker, we have made a definitive list of poker games for you to sink your teeth into!
In the table below, "Popularity" means how widely available and played this variant is. "Gameplay" is how entertaining and well-thought-out the game is. "Learning" is how easy this specific poker variant is.
|2-7 Triple Draw Poker||Draw||⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐|
|Caribbean Stud Poker||Stud||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Casino Hold'em Poker||Community Card||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Texas Hold'em Poker||Community Card||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Five Card Draw Poker||Draw||⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Omaha Hi-Lo Poker||Community Card||⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐|
|Pai Gow Poker||Stud||⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐||⭐|
|Pineapple Poker||Community Card||⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Seven Card Stud Poker||Stud||⭐⭐⭐||⭐⭐||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Types of Poker Games
Common misconceptions that come with the word "poker" are that non-enthusiasts easily mistake it for the Texas Hold'em variant of the game. Beyond this specific style of playing, there is more to poker than meets the eye. An array of variants can actually be played, all with their own rules, structures, and format to be followed when playing.
Above all these differences, it starts with three main poker categories where everything else starts to branch off from. The idea is that these three categories are where all the twelve most popular variants of the game would fall under. Each with their own individual style and peculiarity that makes the entire game all the more fun.
Stud poker is a general term for a game wherein the players are dealt cards that are face-down, as well as face-up. The players can only improve their hands by being dealt better cards. Unfortunately, most of the player's cards can be seen by their opponents. The players must then form the best hand from all the cards dealt to them.
Due to the exposed cards, players need to employ a nuanced strategy that is specific to stud poker and its variations. Depending on the variant, "bluffs" and other deceptive plays can be very difficult to pull off because of the larger amount of information that can be evaluated from the face-up cards.
Examples of stud poker variants include:
- Seven-card stud
- Five-card stud
- Six-card stud
- Mexican stud
- High-low stud
- Caribbean stud
Draw poker is considered to be the earliest poker variant. In this game, players are dealt cards that are kept hidden from the other players. This variation also allows a player to improve their hand by discarding perceived weak cards and drawing potentially stronger cards. The players then play the resulting hand.
Since there are no exposed cards, players evaluate each other from the number of cards that their opponent discards, as well as through mannerisms that are observed during play. Aside from the lack of information, it is harder to create strong hands in this type of game.
Examples of draw poker variants include:
- California lowball
- Kansas City lowball
- California high/low split
- High/low with declare
- Spit in the ocean
Community Card Poker
Community card poker refers to a poker variant where there are face-up cards shared by all the players around the table. The players are dealt cards that are hidden from other players, and then a different set of cards are dealt face-up and shared by the "community" of players. The players use a combination of hidden and community cards to form their best hand.
Since there are visible cards, there is a significant amount of information that can be used to evaluate the strength of other players. One tricky aspect of community cards is that they can influence the strength of the different players in varying degrees. For example, the Ace of Spades in the community cards can form a pair for one player, but form a flush for another.
Examples of community card poker variants include:
- Texas Holdem Poker
- Omaha Holdem Poker
- Pineapple Poker
- Manila Poker
List of Poker Variants
The game of poker subdivides into twelve common poker variants. Each variation has some similarities that make it feel like you're still playing poker but with enough differences to make it stand out from the others. With most of them being created around the mid-1900s in the USA, the playthrough stands the same with all variants and it only shows off stark contrast when betting rounds, hand values, dealing, and certain actions are compared.
2-7 Triple Draw Poker
The 2-7 Triple Draw Poker variant is named so because the best hand is composed of an unsuited 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The players can also discard and draw cards a total of three times before the "showdown".
According to Somuchpoker, the game gained popularity when it was introduced on an online poker site back in the early 2000s. A WSOP 2-7 Triple Draw tournament was also held in 2004. The game still enjoys popularity in today's online rooms. However, it is not usually offered in live poker rooms and casinos.
The primary reason why this variant is relegated to online or private games is because of its learning curve. The game is unusual because the player with the lowest high card wins. Pairs, flushes, and straights are weak hands and are detrimental to a player.
Caribbean Stud Poker
The Caribbean Stud Poker variation is popular because of its simplicity. The dealer and the player are dealt five cards each and the dealer has one of their cards exposed. There is only one round of betting, after which the cards are revealed to determine the winner.
There are many stories regarding the creator of this variation, but most agree that it originated from the island of Aruba in the Caribbean.
This game is played in casinos because the players play against the "house". This means that the dealer represents the casino. There are no interactions between the different players in the game. There are also no complex strategies involved that may entice veteran poker players. However, the game gains interest from new players because rare hands such as royal flushes pay out a jackpot that may be about 100 times the initial bet.
Casino Hold'em Poker
Just like the name suggests, the Casino Holdem variation is similar to Texas Hold'em, but is played against the "house". Hole cards are dealt by the dealer and the players, followed by three community cards. After a round of betting, two more community cards are dealt before the showdown. The dealer must have a made hand (i.e. not high card) to qualify for the showdown. Similar to other casino games, there is a large payout for rare hands like straight flushes and quads.
This variant is popularly played by beginners on casinos because of its simplicity. There are no complex plays, and the action is fast. Consequently, intermediate or professional players never play this game because of the house edge wherein in the long term, players lose (about 1 to 2 %) money against the casino.
The Chinese poker variant plays a bit non-traditional but is actually a very good game for beginners. It may not be as popular as its other counterparts, but it had garnered its fair share of recognition as it was featured on WSOP back in 1995 and 1996.
The game capitalizes on a fair share of luck, with 4 players with 13 cards each. These 13 cards would then sub-divide into 3 hands:
- a best five-card hard
- a mid-strength five-card hand
- a three-card hand of the weakest cards
After collating, the hands are shown in order across all four players to determine the winner. This opens up the possibility of winning on a per round-basis rather than a take-all format, with bonuses added up when winning more than one round of hands or by having straights or flushes.
Texas Hold'em Poker
Being the most popular poker variant, Texas Hold'em needs no actual introduction at all. This variation stands as the most accessible game both online and in card rooms, with a wide array of stakes and tables that anyone can choose to their liking. It's a fairly easy game to learn, with ascendancy made adaptable through learning strategies and in-depth analysis while moving up the ranks of Texas Hold'em players.
What really pushed the game's massive success was Chris Moneymaker's 2003 WSOP main event win that turned $86 into $2.5 million, to the shock and yearning envy of everyone in the poker scene. This turn of events is what pushed Texas Hold'em into the mainstream, sprouting legions of players and multitudes of online platforms to play the game on.
The game works in such a way that players try their best in making a good hand with the hole cards they're holding with the 5 community cards on the table. These community cards are released in intervals, with 3 flop cards coming in first followed by one turn card and the last final river card.
The intervals of the release of the community cards starting from the initial dealing have their own betting rounds embed in. These betting rounds are where players can attempt to siphon the other players' chips until they run out. To determine the round's winner, the winning player is expected to not "fold" within the process of the game while also having the highest possible hand; taking into consideration the hole cards held by the player along with the community cards on the table.
Badugi is a poker variant that makes use of draw and lowball mechanics while making itself unique through its own hand ranking system. It's not the most popular game out there nor is it considered something famous, but several online poker rooms still offer it along with enthusiasts who play it offline in their own homes. When Badugi shows up in a tournament, it can usually be found in the mixed event portion of the series.
Badugi's hand ranking system works in such a way that a hand's strength is considered by checking on the highest card downward. If two players have the same highest card, then the next highest card is compared to determine the winner. In the case of players having cards with a pair, both cards are meld into one. On the other hand, having multiple cards in the same suit would have the highest card represent the entire set in the suit.
The game starts with 4 cards being dealt to everyone in the table. Draws happen thrice all throughout a game, with betting rounds happening in every interval. With the goal of achieving a lowball hand in mind, cards between 0-4 can be discarded in every draw phase. When the final betting round ensues, the player who holds the lowest hand is determined to be the winner.
Five Card Draw Poker
Five Card Draw Poker is a type of draw poker famous for being a fast game that's super easy to learn. It's typical to see it being played in films as the hand strength is easily determined since 5 cards are held at a time.
The game starts with having every player be dealt with 5 cards. What follows is a betting round that proceeds to a draw phase afterwards. In the draw phase, a card would be discarded that would be replaced by the card about to be drawn. Another betting round would occur after which would then lead to the showdown that declares the winner. The winning player in each game would be the person that holds the highest hand.
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker makes use of the 8-or-better mechanic alongside a typical Omaha game to determine its winner. The pot by the end of the game is usually divided into 2, with half going to the player with the highest hand and the other half going to the player with the lowest hand. Although for the low half of the pot to be rewarded, the player holding the low hand should only have cards with values starting from 8 or lower than that.
The game is not as popular as the other poker variants, and the need to consider low and high hands is what pushes people to be driven away given a steeper learning curve. The game proceeds much like a Texas Hold'em game: With the release of community cards in the flop, turn, and river phases that sandwich several betting rounds in between. When the showdown phase occurs, the highest and lowest hands are rewarded, unless the lowest hand doesn't meet the criteria for rewarding. If that ever becomes the case, the player with the highest hand takes the entire pot as their winning.
Pai Gow Poker
The Pai Gow Poker variant takes inspiration from the Chinese game of Pai Gow. However, it uses playing cards instead of the more traditional Chinese dominoes. It's a relatively slow-paced game that has every player going against the dealer.
The game makes use of all 53 cards in the deck, including the Joker. This semi-wild card substitutes either as an ace or a card to complete a straight or a flush. The player would start by making a bet prior to being dealt with seven cards. With the cards on hand, a five-card high hand and a two-card low hand would be created. In most land-based and online casinos offering Pai Gow Poker, the "wheel" (i.e. 5-high straight or) is the second-highest straight after an Ace-high straight (e.g. ).
These two separate hands will go against that of the dealer's high and low hands, and winning would require the player to rank higher against the dealer in both hands. If both hands of the player beat the dealer, then the player takes the pot. If only one hand wins, then the bet would push across the table.
Razz poker is a stud poker variant that requires a player to acquire the lowest hand possible to be considered the winner. Logically, straights and flushes do not count and aces are considered to be a low card, making the game run a bit complicated than expected. The game stands fairly unpopular among enthusiasts but is frequently included in mixed game events since the learning curve is particularly not that steep.
The game proceeds with players contributing an ante, then being dealt with a face-up card and two face-down cards. The player with the highest face-up card gets to bet first, with the cycle going for one round. The other players would then be given another face-up card, and the player with the lowest pair of face-up cards would start the next betting round.
The fifth and sixth street would then take place, with the player who has the lowest hand in terms of face-up cards leading both succeeding betting rounds. The seventh and last street is where another face-down card is dealt, and the player is given an opportunity to form the lowest five-card hand possible.
Pineapple Poker is a very easy poker variant and it has not met the recognition it deserves. Enthusiasts do take a jab at it from time to time since it's a fun iteration of your typical Texas Hold'em.
The game runs the same as the typical Texas Hold'em mechanism, but it adds a third hole card before the flop is dealt to shake things up a bit and make it more interesting. This mechanic pushes players to bet more since they would start off with stronger hands, making the game more interactive and aggressive as it progresses.
Seven Card Stud Poker
Seven Card Stud Poker was the ultimate poker variation that was widespread prior to the popularity of Texas Hold'em. What's so enticing about it is the acquisition of face up and face down cards by all players on the table, as it leaves enough suspense despite giving some clue on what's about to take place.
It's relatively easy to learn, as the goal of the game would only be the acquisition of the highest 5-card hand. The game starts with an ante, then the players would be dealt 2 face-down and 1 face-up cards. From here the player with the lowest value face-up card starts the betting round. Moving forward, more face-up cards get dealt per round, but players with the highest value face-up card starts the betting instead.
The game ends on the seventh and final street, a face-down card gets dealt in which player would then form their strongest 5-card hand to win the entire pot.
Betting Limits in Poker
Betting limits in Poker not only influence how betting unfolds in poker games, but they also play an important factor in determining the type of action on the table. No-Limit poker games are aggressive and players must have big bankrolls, while Limit games are generally conservative and highly structured.
Most poker variants can be played as no-limit poker or limit poker games. Therefore, the betting limit rules of a game of poker are on top of the different variants available for players to chooses from.
In no-limit poker, players are allowed to bet or raise from the minimum amount, up to all their available chips. Depending on the variant, the minimum bet is equal to the big blind, and the minimum raise must at least double the raised bet.
A player can bet their entire stack, called an "all-in" bet. This is the maximum amount for a bet or raise (of course, players cannot bet more than the money or chips that they have in play). Basically, a no-limit game has for limits the stack sizes of the players currently active in the round.
If two players with different chip counts go all-in, the chips at stake are capped to the player who has the lowest chip count. If there are more than two players going all-in or calling an all-in bet, the pot can divided into as many split pots.
Limit poker games build the pot slowly due to controlled betting. In this case, the minimum and maximum bet are equal to the big blind, and the minimum and maximum raise must at least double the bet. For a Limit game, the betting is structured and exact.
There is also a variant of Limit poker where the maximum bet and maximum raise is equivalent to the money on the pot. This version is called Pot-limit poker and it is popular for players who like playing for larger pots, but do not have sufficient bankroll for No-Limit poker.
Poker Variants - FAQ
A lot of poker players don't go near any variant other than No-Limit Texas Holdem. But for those who do, we have answered the most common questions players have about the different variations of poker.
What is the most popular Poker variant?
The most popular poker variant is Texas Hold'em poker. Massive online poker rooms generate rake revenue from over 100 million online players of Hold'em.
Additionally, there is also a large community of live players that prefer to play in casinos and private game rooms. These professional players and their Hold'em skills are showcased in popular events such as the World Series of Poker.
What Poker variation is the most played in real casinos?
Standing the test of time, the most popular of all poker variations to have ever been played in real casinos is still Texas Hold'em. Its prevalence stands unmatched despite having dozens of other iterations that can go up against it.
What type of Poker is the most played online?
Texas Hold'em is also the most popular among all types of poker that are currently being played online. There are several dedicated sites and apps that cater to the game, offering convenience whenever the need to play is felt. Omaha Hi-Lo is growing a strong community, too.
What is the difference between Limit Hold'em and Texas Hold'em?
Limit Hold'em only allows for two bet sizes with one bigger than the other, ultimately making for a well-paced game all throughout. Texas Hold'em on the other hand offers no limitations in betting sizes but follows minimum amounts when it comes to placing bets and raises.
What does Hi-Lo mean in Poker?
Hi-Lo means that the pot would be equally divided into two. With one half being rewarded to the player with the highest hand and the other half being rewarded to the player with the lowest hand.
Although, to be rewarded with the lowest hand, some games have certain parameters to be met before the reward proceeds. Otherwise, the highest hand holder takes both haves for themselves.
Are online poker rules the same as in real casinos?
Rules for poker generally stay the same between both platforms. The difference between the two relies mostly on the level of aggression, the social factor, the speed of play, and the ability to play multiple hands and multiple tables at a given time.
Is Texas Holdem a type of poker?
Texas Hold'em is one of the many poker variants available to be played by any enthusiast or person taking interest in the game in general. It's considered to be the most popular iteration, hence the common misconception of it being the only kind of poker existing.
What type of poker is best for playing in a home game?
Some popular poker variants that are played in private home games are Badugi and Pineapple, despite being generally unpopular to the common poker-playing crowd.
Why are there so many variations of poker?
The existence of a long list of poker games stems from variances of interest, end goals, and amount of mental energy that one would want to dedicate to a certain game.
At the end of the day, there are a dozen of popular types of poker to choose from depending on your dedication to the game while also taking your personal taste into consideration.
What are some fun poker game variations?
If you're getting tired of always playing Texas Hold'em, some poker variations you may want to try that don't stray too far from the popular version are Omaha, Pineapple, Sevan Card Stud, or Razz.
With all these poker variants that are free to play to your own liking and amusement, we do hope there are several that tickle your fancy into growing a richer curiosity for the game. The expanse of choices exists so everyone can have a game they would cherish playing for hours on end. Now, you don't have to stick to just Texas Hold'em only anymore!