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Poker 101: Major poker variations

Poker is one of the most popular casino games of all time. It has numerous variations with varying gameplays and types. In this vast list of poker versions, some stand out as the most popular among others. Find out more about them below.

Main types

Being a widely known casino game, poker comes with various variations, all of which have their own functions, features and characteristics that make them unique from one another. 

Poker variations fall under three main types such as stud, draw and community card games. All three have different gameplays, card handling and processes that are important for you to know. Here’s a summary of the three main types:

  • Stud – Players are dealt with a number of cards that’s usually five or seven and must create the best hand possible with those cards.
  • Draw – To boost their hand, players may opt to trade in some of their cards (usually up to three).
  • Community Cards – Players are dealt with ‘hole cards’ that must be kept private by the player. They then play using communal cards to form the greatest hand possible. These community cards may also be used by other players at the table.

Major types of poker variations

  • Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular poker variations. It’s easy to learn and grasp, making it a magnet for new players and a favourite among veterans. The main objective of this poker variation is to win by either having the best hand among the players or convincing your opponents you have the best five-card poker hand through bluffing.

It starts off with the dealer passing out two cards to each player. These two cards are called ‘hole cards’ or ‘pocket cards’ and are to be kept private from other players. Once all players have their individual hole cards, community cards are now placed on the table. These are five cards presented face up for all players. 

Then comes the betting. There are over four betting rounds in Texas Hold’em which are pre-flop, the flop, the turn and the river. For each of these betting rounds, players are given the chance to bet or fold. To better understand the betting rounds, here’s a summary:

  • Pre-flop – The three community cards dealt following the initial betting round are referred to as the flop.
  • The flop – The first three community cards are referred to as The Flop. The dealer will deal the following three cards face up in the centre of the table after removing or burning a card from the pile. After the flop, that’s the time you get to decide what to do with your bets.
  • The turn – The fourth card to be introduced in the community cards is called The Turn. The dealer will once again burn a card before dealing with the next one.
  • The river – After the last card has been dealt, the final betting round begins.

After the river, this is when players come up with the best five-card poker hand with any combination of the five community cards and hole cards. Players can even opt to not use any of their hole cards but this option usually results in ties among other players.

Omaha

Omaha High or Omaha is another community card poker game similar to Texas Hold’em that can be played by two to ten players. And just like Texas Hold’em, it holds four betting rounds. But one thing that makes it different is that players are dealt with four hole cards instead of just two.

Out of the four, you can only use two of your hole cards when coming up with a poker hand. Because of this rule, the hand you assume you’ll play before the flop, turn, or river might significantly change. To come up with your five-card poker hand, you can use two of your hole cards and three community cards.

Seven-card stud

Seven-card stud is the first stud poker variant and can be played by 8 players using a 52-card deck. The game starts with players placing an ante bet that’s usually between 10-25% of the first betting limit. 

Then, the dealer hands out two cards face-down and one card face-up. And the player with the lowest face-up card has to pay the bring-in bet. The possible lowest card is 2 while the highest is Aces. 

If by any chance two players have the same low card, the outcome is determined by the suit ranking. The value of suits is ranked alphabetically with Clubs being the lowest and Spades being the highest.

The first betting round begins with the bring-in bet. To continue the hand, each player will have the option to fold or bet. The dealer will next deal each player another face-up card. The player with the strongest hand gets to bet first for the round, meaning that for every round, the first bettor changes. The fifth and sixth cards in the deck follow the same pattern. The seventh card will be dealt face-down at the end.

You’ll have four cards face up and three cards face down at that time. From those seven cards, you must create the best five-card hand possible. Unless the deck is depleted, there will be no community cards to help you.

Seven-card stud differs significantly from other types of community poker. Fixed limits or a pot limit are usually used in this game.

Five-card stud

Five-card stud uses the third main type of poker which is draw. It’s the most popular among other draw categories. The game can be played by around six players and starts with blinds or antes. 

Then right after, the dealer gives out five cards to each player. Players will then complete the first round of bets depending on their hand. Before the next betting round begins, players get the chance to remove some of their cards in exchange for new ones. 

Players are allowed to keep or trade their cards as much as they want but only limit their hands up to five. After players have their chance to draw, it’s time for the final betting round. The player with the best five-card hand wins.

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