When you mention the word poker these days, most people immediately think about Texas Hold’em, the most popular and televised variation of the card game.
However, Texas Hold’em wasn’t always so popular. There was a time when the game was not played among the poker's elite at all.
Even today, some of the very best players in the world choose to mix it up and play different variations of poker. This keeps things interesting and gives them a bigger advantage over the recreational players.
If you were not aware that there was more than one way to play poker, you have come to the right place to find out what other variations of poker exist and how many different games there are to learn.
For many years, Stud used to be the elite game that all the top pros played. The most popular variations of Stud include 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz.
The one thing these games have in common is that there are no community cards. Instead, each player is dealt separate cards, with some of them being shown to everyone and others only to the actual player.
In Stud games with seven cards, the player receives the first two and the last card face down, while the middle four cards are dealt face up.
Today, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz are common parts of mixed games, while the Five Card Stud variation has fallen somewhat out of favor among the players.
Stud Poker is a very different format compared to Hold'em, as it is played without community cards and as a limit game.
The betting in Stud is done in increments, similar to Limit Hold’em, while the order in which players bet changes based on the cards they are showing.
Mastering Stud will take some time if you are transitioning from Hold’em, but that is exactly why you should learn the game if you have the time and enjoy the whole new approach to poker that it brings.
If you decide to firstly dive into Hold’em you should check this poker guide since having the basic understanding of the game will surely help you excel at other formats as well.
Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold’em in many things but comes with some variations. In most cases, Omaha is played as a pot-limit game, and the most popular version is often referred to as PLO (Pot Limit Omaha).
In Omaha poker, players are dealt four hole cards instead of two, with the betting action and positions identical to Texas Hold’em.
Yet, there is a big difference in the way poker hands are made. You cannot use more than three cards from the board and have to use exactly 2 of your hole cards to make your hand.
This makes the game very fun to play, as you can combine all sorts of made hands and draws on the flop and the turn, but will only land on a single hand by the river. Thus, Omaha is very popular among action players who love bluffing as long as they have some equity.
In more recent times, players have grown bored of classic PLO, so they started introducing the fifth and even the sixth hole card to the game. This creates even more action and situations that you almost never see in Texas Hold’em.
If you want to play more hands and have more legitimate bluffing opportunities, Omaha is the game you should look at as it was made for action!
Another classic poker variation that used to be played a lot in the old days, Draw Poker was the common game in the saloons of the Wild West.
In 5 Card Draw, the most popular variation from this group, each player is dealt exactly five cards – the number they need to make their poker hand. Players are allowed to bet, after which they can discard as many of their cards as they want and draw new ones in their place.
The classic Five Card Draw game is the most popular variation, although modern players seem to prefer the Lo variations of the game, such as 2-7 Single Draw and 2-7 Triple Draw.
The gameplay in these is the same, but instead of trying to get the best possible poker hand, you should be aiming to make the worst hand between 2 and 7, without making a flush or a straight.
The real thrill of all Draw Poker games is the fact that you never know what your opponent is holding, and you can bluff as much as you want since no one can see any of your cards.
Back when it was played in saloons and home games, Draw Poker was notorious for cheating. Players took advantage of the fact they held all the cards in their hands and could potentially switch them, mark them, and perform all sorts of other tricks.
Mixed games are usually considered the most elite form of poker. They combine all the previously mentioned variations to create a complex game that really requires each player to be a poker master.
Popular forms of mixed games include H.O.R.S.E., 8-Game, and 10-Game, and each of these games is a rotation of other poker games such as Texas Hold’em, PLO, Seven Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, Badugi, and others.
The more elite the players, the more different games you can find in the mix. The biggest mixed game in the world is played at Bobby's Room in Las Vegas, where poker legends such as Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey regularly battle it out, mixing 12 or even more games into a single night of poker action.
The beauty of mixed games is that they never allow one player to be absolutely dominant, as there aren’t too many players out there who can call themselves great in every poker variation.
There is really no fixed way in which to play mixed games. Each group of players can choose which variations they want to play in their rotation, which makes it great for the home game setting as well.