When it comes to online poker everyone remembers only Texas Hold’em, but there’s a lot of poker variants available online.
Yes, Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular poker games online that attracst the major portion of the poker players around the world, but do you know that there are a vast number of poker games available that can provide you fun and entertainment even though not as much as like Texas Hold’em.
But if you are really interested to know more about the best poker variantions then continue read through this guide, where we’ll be providing you with the list of top 10 online poker variants, different poker rules, how to play along with the pros and cons of every game, poker strategy, poker hand rankings & more.
Players are dealt with a hand comprising of completely face-hidden cards. Players can change their hand by discarding cards they don’t want and then dealt with new cards. Five-card draw is one of the most popular variants of Draw Poker
Players are dealt with a hand comprising of both face-up and face-hidden cards with several rounds of betting. Some of the popular variants of stud poker are 5 card stud and 7 card stud.
Here players are dealt with an incomplete hand and a similar number of face-up cards are dealt on the poker table. Players that come up with the best 5-card hand is the winner. Some of the popular variants of community card poker are Texas Holdem and Omaha.
Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular poker variants played by poker fans around the world. This is true because of the most of the popular poker tournaments across the world like World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT) and European Poker Tour (EPT) all use this poker variant, especially the no-limit hold’em.
The origin of the game can be traced back to early 1900 where it was officially played in Robstown, Texas whereas some believe that it could have been played a long time before that. The popularity of the game slowly spread through the whole of Texas and only during the 1960s it is said to have reached the betting mecca, Las Vegas. And soon it became hugely popular that in the 1970s most of the casinos in Vegas included this poker variant and many Vegas Poker tournaments became popular. The game attracted the attention of the world when the events in the World Series of Poker (WSoP) was documented in the book, “The Biggest Game in Town”.
The game is simple to learn as difficult to master as there are hundreds of game situations and there is a famous saying about this game that goes like “it takes a moment to learn, but a lifetime to master”. The objective of the game is to show the highest possible poker hand than your competitors in a hand of five cards.
In Texas Hold’em, players are dealt two-hole cards each and then five community cards are dealt to allow players to make the best five-card combinations. The five cards are dealt in 3 stages. The first stage is called flop, where three cards are dealt and the players can start placing their bets and then in the second stage turn, one more card is dealt and then one more in the final stage called river. During the gameplay, the players have the option to check, call, raise or fold.
Check: This is the most common deceptive play used by most of the players where you just pass on your round to another player without doing any action including calling, raising or folding. It generally means, you are waiting for the turn stage to decide upon your option. It does not necessarily mean that you have a weak hand since you can also trap someone by checking with a good hand and wait for them to bet.
Raise: But if you see that you already have some combination and think that it could be a winning hand or if you want to scare your opponents and make them fold, you can raise the bet.
Call: Players who think that they got a nice hand but decide against betting more money will call so the other player also reveals his cards at the end and the best hand wins. Calling on the flop or on the turn means that you have a mediocre hand, you have a weak hand but you can improve and it is worth it if it is a small price to pay or you are simply trapping your opponent with a premium/great hand and don't want to scare your opponent by raising early. Calling on the river when you are the last player to act depends on what you think your opponent has, even if you have a bad/mediocre hand, you might still win if you think that your opponent is bluffing.
Fold: If you think that you don’t have a winning hand and don’t want to risk your money/chips, then you can simply fold and let other players continue with the action.
So the player who has the best hand after all the rounds is the winner of the pot. Yes, the pot is nothing but the total amount of bets placed on the table.
Before you start playing Texas hold'em you need to understand the basic rules of the game and how betting works.
In Texas hold'em the game moves clockwise where the dealer is a player which is denoted by a round disc in front of a player. After each round, the round disc or the button moves to the left and that player becomes the dealer. But when you are playing in live poker rooms, there is a separate dealer who takes care of dealing the cards and supervising the action throughout the game.
The players to the left of the dealer need to post blinds or forced bets. Yes, the first player to the left of the dealer need to place a small blind and the next player need to post a big blind. In other words, blinds mean you are placing bets without even seeing the 2-hole cards, which makes the game more interesting. In tournaments, players can even raise the blind amounts, but in cash games, the blind amount stays the same. The big blind is double the amount of the small blind. For example, if the first player posts a small blind of $1, then the big blind need to be $2
First Betting Round: Preflop
Once each player is dealt with 2 cards, the betting starts with the first two players to the left of the players posting blinds. The player next to the big blind player is one who needs to play next and he can either call, raise or fold the cards. And once the player folds, he can no longer take part in the round.
If he chooses to the raise the bet, then the amount he can raise depends on the type of game he is playing. For example, in no limit hold'em, the minimum raise should be twice the amount of the big blind and the maximum raise amount can be the all the chips the player has in possession. It is called the “all-in” bet, where the player bets all his amount in the hand.
Once the player next to the big blinds plays, the action continues to the players around the table in a clockwise direction and every player has the same kind of options as whether to call, raise or fold. Once all players complete their play, the pre-flop stage is done and the action moves on to the next stage “the flop”.
Second Betting Round: The Flop
In this round, the first three cards are dealt face-up and the second-round betting starts. Players who have folded in the pre-flop stage cannot take part any longer in the game and the remaining players and the action starts with the first remaining player to the left of the dealer. Here the players are provided with an additional option “Check” along with other options to raise, call or fold. If a player calls “Check” the action moves on to the next player. In real poker tables, normally the players tap their hand on to the table to indicate they are checking. Once all players complete their play, the flop round gets completed and moves on to the next round “the turn”. Generally, your poker odds of winning the pot goes down if there a large number of players are on the table.
Third Betting Round: The Turn
In this round, along with the three community cards, a fourth card is dealt face up and the betting starts right away. And the players have all four similar options like the previous round to check, call, fold, or raise.
Final Betting Round: The River
The next stage is “The River”, where an additional card is dealt face-up to start the betting. This is officially the last round of betting, but players can go on raise the bets and the rounds continue until someone calls.
If all remaining players continue their bets in the “the river” round, then all players need to reveal their two-hole cards and the winner with the highest hand will be announced.
Before you play online poker, you also need to understand the Texas Holdem Card Rankings. See the image shown below which shows the rankings in detail. Royal Flush is the top ranked hand and anyone with these set of cards is the winner of the pot undoubtedly. It ss pretty easy to understand poker hand rankings and they are the same for all the most popular games including No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha and Seven-Card Stud and very similar for other poker variations/styles like Short Deck Hold'em (6+ poker).
Four of a kind (quads)
Three of a kind (a set)
Royal Flush: 1 in 649,740 (0.000154%)
Straight Flush: 1 in 72,193.33 (0.00139%)
Four of a Kind: 1 in 4,165 (0.0240%)
Full House: 1 in 694.16 (0.1441%)
Flush: 1 in 508.80 (0.1965%)
Straight: 1 in 254.80 (0.3925%)
Three of a Kind: 1 in 47.32 (2.1128%)
Two Pairs: 1 in 21.03 (4.7539%)
One Pair: 1 in 2.36 (42.2569%)
No Pair: 1 in 1.99 (50.1177%)
Omaha is another variant of poker where player looking to make some bigger swings can opt for this game. In Omaha, players are dealt with 4 hole cards instead of 2 hole cards, but out of the 4 hole cards, players can only two from their hand. Like Texas hold'em, in Omaha poker also five community cards are dealt in 3 rounds flop, turn and river. And the betting rounds also have the same kind of rules like Texas hold'em poker game.
Pot Limit Omaha is played similarly to Texas Hold’em, where two players next to the dealer start with a small blind and big blind and the action continue across the table to the other players in a clockwise direction. The main difference here is in Omaha Poker, unlike Texas Hold’em where instead of 2 hole cards, four hole cards are dealt.
The other major difference between Omaha and Texas hold’em is that unlike the latter where the users can combine the 2 hole cards and the five community cards to form a high hand, in Omaha, the players can only use 3 of the five community cards and need to use 2 of 4 hole cards. So even if the five community cards have K♠ 9♠ Q♠ Q♥ 5♠ and the player has A♠ 2♥ 4♥ 5♣ the player cannot claim a straight flush. Because they need to use two from their 4 hole cards and 3 from the community cards and hence cannot claim it. But instead, if they have K♠ 9♠ Q♠ Q♥ 5♠ and hole cards A♠ 2♥ 4♥ 7♠, then they can claim the straight flush.
Betting works like Texas Hold’em where after the small and big blinds, the bets are placed in each round including the preflop, flop, the turn and the river.
Pot limit Omaha or Omaha High is a fast-paced action game and that is the reason this poker variant is hugely popular among high stakes poker players. Since the players are dealt with 4 holes cards instead of 2 cards, the variations that each player can get is much higher than Texas Hold’em and that is the reason that player making nuts is much higher in Omaha high.
When compared to Texas Hold’em, even having a two pair can make you a winning hand, but in PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), you never know what other users go as there is every possibility that other players got better hands than you.
Take for example, if the four hole cards dealt for you 10♠9♠8♥7♥ and during the river stage, if the community cards on the table are 7♠9♥K♥J♣2♦. Then you have a winning hand when you combine the 10 and 8 in your hand along with the 7,9 and J to form a Jack high straight (J♣10♠9♥8♥7♠). But beware, if someone holds a Queen high straight can defeat you easily. Hence when the betting gets heavier you need to rethink your best poker strategy and play accordingly.
In Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), the minimum bet allowed is the amount equivalent to the big blind amount and the maximum amount a player can place bet is the amount in the pot. But calculating the size of the pot is the trickiest part, if the pot amount is $20, then the maximum amount the first player can bet is $20.
This is simple enough to calculate, but if there is already a bet placed, and if the next player wishes to raise his bet, then the maximum amount he can raise is the amount that would exist in the pot after the call. So if there is $20 in the pot and there is a bet amount of $10, then the maximum amount a player can raise is ($10+40=$50). But you don’t need to worry about that in online poker as all calculations will be done automatically and all you just need to do is place the bet as shown in the window.
Seven Card Stud was another highly popular poker variant before Texas Hold’em was introduced into the casinos. The game can be played with a minimum of 2 players and maximum of 8 players and the major difference between 7 card stud and Texas Hold’em is that in 7card stud there is no flop stage and there are no community cards dealt as well in some games.
The game is played by dealing 2 cards face down and one card face up before the first betting round starts and then 3 cards face up are dealt allowing the players to place their bet after every face up cards are dealt. Then it is followed by a face down card, the last round of betting gets completed and the player with the best 5-card wins the pot. In fixed-limit 7 card stud games, in the first two rounds only smaller bets are allowed and the larger bets are allowed when the fifth card is dealt.
As you can see from the picture above, it clearly shows how the cards are dealt in the 7 card stud game. Each player is dealt with two face down cards called the hole cards and then a face-up card called the door card or the third street is dealt. With these 3 cards on hand, the player can easily decide whether to continue with the hand or not. In total, 7 cards are dealt and it is up to the player to come with the best 5-card combination. The hand rankings or the winning poker sequence are similar to Texas Hold’em as even here the Royal Flush is the best winning hand and a set of cards with no pair is the worst possible hand.
While players place blinds as forced bets in Texas Hold’em, in 7 card stud poker, the forced bet is called as antes and need to be placed by every player in the table even before the 3 cards are dealt. So even before the cards are dealt, there is always some amount in the pot to start and the player who has the lowest ranking door card need to post the bring-in. So the person shall either bet with the minimum $5 bring-in amount or can complete by posting an amount of $10. And the betting action continues as every player has the option to either call, raise or fold. Once the betting is done, the players are dealt with fourth street card. And the gameplay differ in 7 card stud as the player who starts after the fourth street card is dealt is not the player who is next to the left of the dealer, but the person holding the high ranking door card.
Chinese Poker is another popular poker variant and only with a basic knowledge of poker can start playing this game. And one of the main reasons that beginners love to play this game is there is a lot of luck needed than skill to win this game. Hence, even beginners can make good winning if luck is on their side.
Chinese poker involves a maximum of four persons and every player is dealt with 13 cards from a single deck of cards. And the players need to divide their cards into 3 poker hands or sets also called as a setting. They need to have 2 sets of 5 cards each and the third set consisting of 3 cards.
Back Hand - 5 cards
Middle Hand - 5 cards
Front Hand - 3 cards
The two sets comprising of 5 cards each are called as the middle and the back and the last set is called the front. And while dividing the set the players need to place the highest-ranking card as the back, while the lowest ranking cards need to be placed in the front. Remember the back hand needs to be stronger than the middle hand and the front as you can’t have a flush in the middle and a straight in the middle.
Once all the players have completed dividing 3 sets of cards and the action starts in clockwise direction and players need to announce whether they are willing to play or fold. And before the players reveal their hands, they also need to announce their royalties. And the player who has the 3 flushes or 3 straights wins automatically irrespective what other players have got in their hands.
But normally the winner is considered by comparing both the hands of the player. First the top hand is compared, then the middle and lastly the bottom. The scoring system in Chinese poker works in terms of units, where players agree upon a certain amount of money before play starts. And once the 13 cards are dealt and players complete arranging in 3 sets, back, middle and front, each set is compared to the other player and player with the best hand in that particular set collects one unit from the other player. So even if you are second best, you still can win some good money at the Chinese poker game. IN some variants of Chinese poker, bonus points are awarded to players who win 2-3 hand. Because there are different stakes involved in the game, the same game can be played by different players at different stakes. For example, Player X can bet with Player Y for $100 per unit whereas other players can play for $10 per unit. The most popular scoring system in place are the 2-4 and 1-6 scoring methods.
In the 2-4 Chinese Poker scoring system, a player is awarded 1 unit for every hand they win and if they win either 2 out of 3 hands or all 3 hands an additional unit is awarded. But if there is a tie in one hand then no money is won by any person or if both the person wins one unit also then no money is exchanged.
In the 1-6 Chinese Poker scoring system, one unit is awarded for every hand they win and 3 bonus units awarded if they win all 3 hands.
In this Chinese Poker variation the players are dealt five cards in the beginning. These cards are arranged faceup on the table to the back, middle, and front hands. The cards cannot be rearranged later. Then the players receive a single card at a time for the remaining 8 cards. This means it's possible to make an illegal hand.
There are only very few poker sites where you could play any format of chinese poker. Please send us an email regarding what you are looking for so that we could help you to choose the best poker room in order to play these games.
Razz is another poker variant that became popular in the early 2000s and can be played with 2-8 players. It is basically a stud variant and similar to 7 card stud poker, there is no flop or community cards here. And the objective is to get the lowest possible 5-card hand out of the 7 cards.
The game play is very much similar to the 7-card stud poker game where every player is dealt with 2 face-up cards and a single face down card. Then 3 cards are dealt face-up and betting starts after every card is dealt and the players can decide whether to continue with the game or not after the first three cards are dealt. The two face down cards are called as the hole cards and the face down card is the door card. The players who don’t fold till the 7th street will be dealt with the last card face down and out of the 7 cards, the players need to come up with the best 5-card hand.
The player with the highest value door card must bring
Here Aces are the lowest and hence King is the high card
If two players have King cards, then the suits decide the player with the high card (clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades) where spade is the highest suit.
The player having the high card can either bet an amount equal to the ante or complete the bet by placing an amount equivalent to the small bet
The action starts with the player with the lowest valued card
In Razz, flushes and straights don’t count
The best hand in RAZZ is lowest straight (A-2-3-4-5), since ACE is of the lowest value here
A player with A-2-3-4-7 loses to a player holding 2-3-4-5-6, since 6 is lower than 7.
Omaha Hi-Lo is another popular poker variant where the winnings are split between the player with the highest hand and the player with the lowest hand (split pot) if the lowest hand is topped by an 8. If that condition is not met, then the player with the highest hand will win the entire pot money himself. And one more interesting aspect that a player can both win the high and the lower half of the pot as well. And when a player wins both then it is termed as scooping.
A high hand can be any best possible hand as per the general poker hand rankings. And a low hand is any 5-card combination (2-hole and 3 community cards) that has a value less than or equal to 8. But there are certain criteria to be met to qualify for a low hand as there can not be a pair in the low hand and the 3 community cards need have a value less than or equal to 8.
Like Omaha Poker, the players seated to the left of the dealer post the small and big blinds and each player in the table is dealt 4 hole cards and the betting round starts with the pre-flop, flop, the turn and the river.
Badugi is one of thelatest entrants in the world of poker and slowly starting to gain a lot of traction as the gameplay seems to be exciting and action-packed throughout. The gameplay is much similar to 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, Badugi employs a completely unique system to choose the winning hand. The name Badugi is seemed to have originated from the South Korean word “baduk” meaning black and white.
Badugi is basically a blind game where the player seated to the left of the dealer posts the small blind and the person next to him posts the big blind
The game moves clockwise to the left of the dealer and every player is dealt with 4 cards facedown
The betting starts after all the players are dealt 4 cards with the player starts betting next the big blind
Once all players place their bets, the drawing round starts
The player to the left of the dealer now has to decide how many to discard and how many new cards to receive
The dealer deals all new cards at once to the player and the game moves on to the next player and so on.
A player can even choose not to discard any cards, which is called as standing pat
Once the new cards are dealt with all players, the second round of betting begins and the same pattern is followed by discarding and adding new cards
This pattern goes on until all players except one, fold their cards
Once the betting rounds are over, the player remaining wins the pot.
The best possible Badugi is the four-card “A♥ 2♣ 3♦ 4♠”
In Badugi, the hand is counted from the highest card down and the scoring is based on how low your highest cards in your hands. For example, Aces are the lowest.
And in every card should be of a different suit and a different rank
A player with a 4-card Badugi beats a player with a 3-card Badugi
Similarly, a 3-card Badugi beats a 2-card Badugi.
RANK OF CARDS: K, Q, J, 10 ,9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A
OBJECTIVE of the game: Win the pot by having the lowest hand with no two cards of the same suit or rank.
Short Deck Poker or Six-plus hold’em is another variant of the Texas Holdem Poker as it follows the same basic poker rules as Texas Hold’em with a little difference as instead of a 52-card deck, a 36-card deck is used here. In this 36 card deck, 16 cards including 2s,3s,4s and 5s are removed leaving the deck to start from the 6s till the As. Similar to Texas Hold’em, the Aces are the highest or the lowest when calculating straights.
The gameplay is much similar to Texas Hold’em where two-hole cards are dealt with each player followed up by five community cards and four streets of betting rounds including the preflop, flop, turn and river.
The betting can be either no-limit or fixed limit games and the same hand ranking rules also apply here. Since the 2s till the 5s are removed in this game, some rules change here:
A 3 of a kind wins a straight hand.
The lowest possible card here is A-6-7-8-9
Flush ranks higher than a full house
HORSE is basically a mix of five games and it stands for:
H - Hold’em
O - Omaha Hi-Lo
R - Razz
S - Stud
E - Eight or Better
HORSE is a popular mixed poker variant and is played by players interested in winning big cash games and players looking to have some entertainment playing a mix of poker games. Playing this game also removes the specialty one has in a single game and requires a player with skills across multiple poker variants. It is often considered that a real professional in Poker is determined when he plays mixed poker variants like HORSE. Even individuals who like to test their poker skills can choose to play these mixed variants occasionally.
The game HORSE is rotated between each game as every game is given a round each. First the game begins with Fixed Limit Hold’em and the rotates through every other game like Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Stud and 8-or-better games. Once the last 8-or-better game is completed, the action continues again with Fixed Limit Hold’em and goes on until a winner is determined.
In online HORSE games, you can easily see which game is played right now as the name of the game is displayed at the top of the table all the time. And during the switch between each game, the button for the player freezes so that it prevents players from skipping blinds or paying extra blinds.
5 card draw is another poker variant that is also known to be the simplest form of poker variant and is basically a video poker. Hence, beginners starting to learn poker can start with this game. Also known as Cantrell Draw, the five-card draw is not very much played in many casinos since the 5-card draw is not as popular as the 7-card stud and the Texas Hold’em.
In 5 card draw, the game begins with players to the left of the dealer posting small blinds and big blinds. The first round starts with the player dealing to the left and the second round starts with the one who started the first round. Each player is dealt with 5 face down cards one at a time and the remaining cards in the deck is placed alongside. Betting round starts and if more than one player remains after the betting round, a draw round starts where each player is allowed to replace their cards with new ones. Each player is dealt with new cards and the second-round betting starts and finally the showdown starts where the player the best hand is declared as the winner.
Poker is all about getting the best-hand possible and in order to get that one need to be patient and should not get emotional in the game. Emotions will only hurt you for good and there is every chance you could lose more money in just seconds.
According to the fundamental theorem of poker introduced by David Skylansky, which states that: “Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents' cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose”.
If you are just a beginner, then learn how to play poker by playing free or low limit poker games and acclimatize yourself with the basics of the game or there are a lot of poker school(s) and poker training websites available online that help you with hand analysis, poker mindset, hand reading, poker hand rankings, how to be aggressive etc.
Don’t take part in every round and play very aggressively
Bluffing is another skill that you need to develop if you want to win more hands
When you have strong hands, try to build the pot and protect your equity
Get latest tips for beginners & experts (training sites, private coaches)
Sometimes folding is good, in order to win in the long run you have to make a lot of good lay downs
Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen (2008) Get into the mind of a world-famous poker player Gus Hansen
Treat Poker Like a Business (2012) A book targeted for poker players who like to monetize their free time to make some money
This guide should have provided you with all the information you needed about the online poker variantions, their rules, hand combinations and gameplay. Good luck!