Poker Games

It might seem like Texas Holdem is the only game in town these days but there are actually quite a few poker variants that are still played around the world. In fact, some variants such as Omaha are gaining ground on Texas Holdem every day. Texas Holdem is likely to be the king of the poker world for quite a while but as time goes on, more people will want to try new poker variants.

Learning new poker variants is sort of like exercising the poker muscles in your brain. If you take the time to learn an additional game, you will improve in all poker variants. The best way to learn new poker games is to do it one game at a time. Devote your time to the study of one game and then only move on when you have that game down pat.

Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem hit major casinos in the 1980s and slowly entrenched itself as a mainstay at poker rooms across the country. Its rise to fame came in the early 2000s when sports and travel channels devoted primetime television spots to major poker events such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. At the same time, online card rooms began to grow in popularity and the main game in all cases was Texas Holdem.

If you’re not familiar with Texas Holdem, this is the game in which each player gets two hole cards. Five community cards are then dealt face up in the middle of the table and each player may use any of those community cards in combination with their hole cards to make the best possible five card poker hand. The rules look long and complicated but if you get a chance to play a couple rounds, you’ll find that it’s actually not a difficult game.


Omaha (also called Omaha Holdem) is usually the second game people learn after Texas Holdem. The rules are almost the same except in Omaha each player gets four hole cards instead of two. It’s a small change but it has major implications in the flow of the game.

Because of the additional hole cards, big hands and big pots are quite common in Omaha. You have to be careful when you make the switch to Omaha because some hands that are powerhouses in Texas Holdem are considered weenies in Omaha.

Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud was the king that was dethroned by Texas Holdem in the 1980s. The game is still quite popular today and interest in it has grown steadily, especially among internet players. If you log on to any large poker site, you’ll usually find quite a few Seven Card Stud games up and running.

Seven Card Stud is the most popular of the “stud” games, which consist of poker variants in which some cards are dealt face up and some cards are dealt face down. There are no community cards but each player eventually receives a total of seven cards to choose from. Out of those seven cards, the players choose five cards to create the best possible five card hand.

Five Card Draw

Five Card Draw is probably the most well-known poker game in the world. This is the game in which each player receives five cards face down and then has one opportunity to discard the unwanted cards and draw new ones. If you’ve ever seen old Western movies with poker-playing cowboys, they were probably playing Five Card Draw.

Five Card Draw isn’t as popular among real-money players today, however, because the game doesn’t reveal enough information for the players to make educated guesses about each others’ hands. On top of that, big hands are rare in Five Card Draw and the game moves at a slow pace.

Razz Poker

Razz Poker is a variation of Seven Card Stud in which the object of the game is to get the lowest possible hand. The antes, set-up and structure are all the same as Seven Card Stud. The only difference is that when the showdown comes, the player with the lowest hand wins the pot.

If you are a Texas Holdem player, you’ll probably want to learn Seven Card Stud before you make the switch to Razz. When you make the switch to Seven Card Stud from Holdem, you only need to worry about the structure of the game – the hand values are all the same. If you jump straight to Razz from Holdem, everything is different.

H.O.R.S.E. Poker

H.O.R.S.E. Poker is a combination of poker games that includes: Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better (7 Card Stud Hi-Lo). Each game in the rotation is played for either a certain number of hands or for a specified length of time. Out of all the mixed game formats, HORSE Poker is the most popular.

In recent years, HORSE Poker was included as an event at the World Series of Poker. Because it consists of a mixture of games, the WSOP HORSE Poker event was considered by many to be the one that truly determined the best tournament player that year. The buyin for the HORSE event at the WSOP was an astounding $50,000.

Five Card Stud

Five Card Stud is played very similarly to Seven Card Stud except each player receives five cards rather than seven. After all the cards have been dealt, the remaining players have a showdown where they reveal their single hidden card. The player with the best hand wins the pot.

Five Card Stud is a very straightforward game but it suffers from giving away too much information. With only one card hidden, each player can pretty easily guess what the other players have. Because of that, most rounds end when one player bets and the rest fold.