5 Poker Variations You Might Not Have Tried Before
Seeing how popular No Limit Hold'em is today few people would believe how rare it was to find a game prior to 2003. Poker has gone through many transitions over the years, with new variations added as quickly as old ones have been forgotten. While No Limit has captured the public's imagination over the past 10 years, in card rooms across the world players are enjoying different formats while they are busy inventing new ones, in most cases just to liven things up.
Here you can find out about the most common poker variations, both live and online, which you may not have tried before.
1 - Omaha
Omaha is now the second most popular poker game in the world and one which appear very similar to Texas Hold’em.
As the game begins the blinds are put in, the players are dealt their hole cardsand then in exactly the same way as Hold’em the flop, turn and river are dealt out after different rounds of betting. While this is all nice and familiar, Omaha features two major differences – each player receives 4 hole cards and you must play 2 cards from your hand and 3 from the board.
Having 4 cards instead of 2 means you have 6x more starting hand combinations than in Hold’em, making Omaha great fun with so many potential hands to play. It also means you will face a lot of draws and redraws, where you can even flop the nuts on the flop and be behind, so good hand selection and board reading is essential!
The game is mostly played using Pot Limit betting. Unlike No Limit this means you are far less likely to be blown off your hand before a flop, adding to the excitement. You can also find Omaha Hi-Lo (aka O8), where the pot can be split between the best high and best low hand, along with Omaha versions with 5 and even 6 hole cards.
2 - Stud
This game, once popular before the rise of Limit Hold’em and then No-Limit, has seen a resurgence thanks to the popularity of mixed games.
While it can be played in a 5 card format the most widely spread variation is 7 Card Stud. Here there are no blinds, instead every player contributes a small ante to the pot before they recieve 2 hole cards face down, and one up card or ‘door’ card which everyone can see. The player with the lowest door card has to ‘bring-in’ by adding another compulsory bet to the pot. Everyone else can then either call, raise or fold.
After each round of betting more cards are dealt out for the players remaining in the hand. After the initial 3 card hand players left in will receive 3 more up cards and a final card face down. The winner is the one who can make the best 5 card hand.
Online the game is most popular as a Limit betting game, although you can find Pot Limit and even No Limit betting spread live. There is also a lowball version of the game called Razz where players have to make the best low hand with 5 cards, as well as a Hi/Lo variant.
3 - Five Card Draw
This is the most straightforward poker game and one films and TV have connected strongly with the Wild West.
In Draw the blinds are placed, sometimes accompanied by antes, and then each player receives 5 cards. After a round of betting each player can discard as many as they wish, and receive new cards to replace them. Another round of betting then takes place before showdown reveals who holds the best hand.
While the movies would have you believe this is a game where you are purely using reads on your opponent, there is a definite strategy you can apply which can make the games very profitable online. These includes using strong starting hands and position while ensuring you are not drawing to flushes or straights without the right odds.
4 - Deuce to Seven Triple Draw
This is the game which has seen some of the biggest pots in online poker in recent years, creating some wild swings among the high stakes communities.
Traditionally played with Limit betting this game can also be found with Pot Limit and occasionally No-Limit bets. Once the blinds are in all players are dealt 5 cards each and a round of betting commences, after which players have the option to replace cards they and another round of betting follows. This is repeated a further two times.
At the end the player with the best low hand wins. Aces count as high along with straights and flushes, so while ‘the wheel’ A2345 may be the best hand in some lowball game, in 2-7 it is an A-5 straight. The best hand therefore is 23457, followed by 23467.
5- HORSE & Other Mixed Games
Why settle for one game where you can play many!
Over the years mixed games have always been popular in live settings and with the introduction of more and more games online, so they have grown in popularity there too. Not only does it provide a test of who are the best all-round poker players, it keeps the games fresh and exciting.
HORSE was the original mixed game format, with its name made up of the games it contained - Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo Split Eight or Better, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Stud Hi/Lo Split Eight or Better . While the rotation had been used for many years in the high stakes cash games of Bobby's Room, it was first introduced into the World Series in 2002, although gain prominence in 2006 with a $50k buy-in (even though the final table switched to just No Limit Hold'em). This event was won by Chip Reese, who passed away the following year, and since then the trophy has bared his name.
Soon online other games were added to the mix, creating 8 and 10 game mixes. The big bet games of No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha were the first to be added, then draw games were also included, such as 2-7 single and triple draw and Badugi, a Korean lowball game.
Especially in low limits you can find soft spots in these games, if you are at least competent in two or three of the disciplines played, usually much softer than the regular games of the same stake. While it does take some work to understand several variations and switch gears between them, they are fun, rewarding and potentially profitable games to play.
Only one site has all of these variations available - the giant PokerStars. US-based players can find Omaha and the occasional Stud game online at the offshore sites.
More Online Poker Articles:
Sit and Go Tournaments (a small, and very easy to beat, poker tournament format).
Online Poker Security Guide (how to make sure your account is secure when playing online poker)
Why US Poker Sites are based Offshore (current setup of online poker for US residents explained here)