If you’re interested in playing poker, here’s an introduction to the most common poker card games. The Germans invented the game of poker in around the 16th century, and it has continued to see different poker game modifications as the years have gone by. The current name was coined in the 1830s, and different poker game varieties were released during the Civil War.
At the time, all types of poker games had one common feature: drawing cards to improve a hand. Currently, some variations deviate from this rule. Poker card games provide many opportunities to win if luck is on your side. But we can’t eliminate the necessity for skills and a working strategy, too.
This guide will explain the various poker game types available at different casinos. It will also give you all the details you need to get started with each variant.
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There are numerous poker games you can play today, all with their own unique rules. However, out of these numerous options, there are five that have gained immense popularity. We’ll explore them in more detail below.
Texas Hold ’em
Texas Hold ’em poker holds the title if you are looking for the most popular poker game type. This poker card game is well known and features in many tournaments, drawing in players from around the world. Some of them include WSOP, WPT, EPT, etc.
This game is usually referred to as Hold ’em, and it is also a popular casino poker game type. Its gameplay is easy to learn and perfect for beginner casino players. This poker game falls under the “community” poker cards variant, where players receive a number of cards, and a certain community card is laid out in the middle of the game table.
For Hold ’em, two cards are issued each, and five cards are laid on the table, offering everyone an equal chance to create the best five-card hand they can get. Betting occurs in stages here, and the player with the best hand among those who have not folded wins the pot in the middle.
Rules of Play for Texas Hold ’em
To understand the rules for this variant, you’ll first need to learn how betting works in this game.
Almost all poker game types have a bet type called “ante.” This bet forces all players to make a move. Otherwise, a player could just sit and wait until they have a perfect hand before committing to the pot.
Depending on the casino you decide to play at, an ante bet will be present or absent. However, you will find a “blinds” system in all Texas Hold ’em games, whether there is an ante bet or not. It has the same function as the ante but rotates around the table. Everyone must place a blind bet when it is their turn.
In the game of Hold ’em, there are small and big blinds. Their values are always determined before the game starts. The big blind’s value is twice that of the small bet.
When it comes to betting, there are three types:
- No-limit Hold ’em
- Pot-limit Hold ’em
- Limit Hold ’em
Each hand has a different ranking, listed below according to the probability of it occurring:
- Straight Flush: all cards are in order within the same sequence, e.g., 10, J, Q, K, A, all spades.
- Four-of-a-Kind: a hand in which a total of four out of five cards are ranked the same, e.g., 2, 2, 2, 2, A.
- Full House: this hand offers three same-ranking cards and two cards of another rank.
- Flush: all five cards are of the same sequence, e.g., clubs. This is the determinant of a win.
- Straight: the hand consists of cards of consecutive ranking.
- Three-of-a-Kind: like a full house, but the two cards are of different ranks.
- Two-pair: here, two cards are of one rank, another two are of different ranks, and the last card has another level, too.
- One pair: here, two cards rank the same, and the remaining three rank differently on another level.
- High Card: here, none of the cards rank the same.
Omaha could offer you some amazing wins but it uses different rules than Texas Hold ’em above. There are two main poker card game types for Omaha. These are:
- The Omaha High (another name for Omaha).
- Omaha Hi/Lo (also known as Eight or Better or Omaha/8).
For this discussion, we will focus only on Omaha High. While this game type may be difficult to find at most casinos, it offers good rewards, just like Texas Hold ’em. There are also five community cards with one flop, a river, and a turn.
Like Texas Hold ’em, there are hand rankings. However, the straight flush may not be a tie determinant here. The table below illustrates the poker hand rankings in this game.
|Hand||How it appears||An example|
|Royal Flush||A natural flush of cards with subsequent ranking, from 10 to ace.||10, J, Q, K, A|
|Straight Flush||Five similar cards in order and all of the same sequence.||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, all spades.|
|Four-of-a-Kind||Hand including four ranking cards and one differing rank.||A, A, A, A, 2|
|Full House||Three same-ranking cards and two different ranking values.||A, A, K, K, K|
|Flush||All five cards are of the same sequence.||A, K, 9, 4, 3, all spades|
|Straight||Consists of cards with consecutive ranking.||2, 3, 4, 5, 6|
|Three-of-a-Kind||All three cards rank the same, and the last two rank differently.||4, 4, 4, A, K|
|Two-Pair||There are two different pairs, and the last card ranks differently.||4, 4, 7, 7, A|
|Pair||Only two cards rank the same here, and the other three differ.||A, K, Q, 9, 9|
|High Card||All cards are different and ranked by the highest value.||A, K, 6, 3, 2|
When the game starts, all players receive one card that is issued face up by the dealer. The house always provides a dealer to issue cards, but any player can be the dealer when it’s time to play (designated with a white disc in front).
The game rules also differ based on the gambling venue. If you jump on a table where a player has been designated as a dealer, you can either start wagering immediately, wait until it gets to your turn to place a big wager, or directly place your bet.
A player who becomes the dealer has a greater opportunity to win. This is because you can play last on other rounds after the first round. The small blind is assigned to the player on the left of the dealer, and the next player on the small blind’s left is the big blind.
After the blinds have placed their forced bets, each player will receive four cards in a face-down position. Play goes around until it gets to the white disc, then it starts again until everyone has received an equal four share.
After being dealt, the first player left of the big blind makes one of the following decisions:
- Call: place a wager similar to the big blind’s.
- Raise: increase the bet’s size.
- Fold: give up, throw the cards away and opt out.
The Omaha poker game type is fast-paced and allows players more chances than Hold ’em. Don’t forget that positioning is also important here, with the dealer having the highest hand.
Some people say that seven-card stud was the reigning poker card game before the introduction of Hold ’em. One striking difference with seven-card stud is that you need a good strategy and understanding to position your hand for a win.
There are no community cards here, except in special situations, like the first two variants. Players receive seven cards and must arrange the best five cards for their hand. The hand rankings also follow the traditional standards. However, ante bets are used here instead of the blinds system. Also, no player is designated as a dealer here. All players must place the ante bet, which is determined by the house or table limits.
The first dealing involves issuing three cards each, where the first two are dealt in a face-down position, regularly referred to as “hole” cards. The last card is issued face up and is called the “door” card.
The bets are accepted, depending on the table limits. This is determined by the door cards, and the lowest ranking one determines the wager. The same player can also raise to double the table’s limit or leave it at half the limit.
Play continues from the right to the left of the table, and other players must choose to either:
- Call, or
Once everybody has decided, they are dealt a fourth card, usually the fourth street card. The player who displays the highest hand among the face-up cards will act first since there is no dealer to choose who goes first.
Another round of betting occurs, with the issuing of the fifth street in a face-up position. A round of bets takes place, and another face-up card is issued around the table. Another bet round occurs again.
The final (seventh) street is issued in a face-down position. This is followed by the final bet round, and all players can display their best cards. The highest hand wins.
Tables can run out of cards before the seventh street is due to be issued. Here, the last card will be placed in the middle, serving everybody as a community card. Winning is based on correctly estimating your opponent’s hand and the type of strategy you use.
2-7 Triple Draw
This poker game is usually classified as an advanced variant as it comes with an inverse hand ranking system. The goal for all players is to get the lowest hand possible to win. In some gambling venues, this has been considered an easy alternative to Hold ’em and offers exciting gameplay.
In this variant, the dealer is used to order the play round. Just like Omaha, a player will be chosen as a dealer with a symbol, D, or the words “DEALER” scribbled out. The player to the dealer’s left is the small blind, and following them on the left side is the big blind.
The positions are always moved from one place to the left. All blinds must place a forced wager. As usual, the big blind’s bet is twice the offer that the small blind makes. All are determined by the table’s limits. It is important to confirm the table structure before joining in to avoid surprises.
The cards will first be issued to the small blind and go around in a clockwise motion. This poker game type offers five cards, each one issued face down. They are all referred to as the hole cards.
As with Omaha, the first player to the left of the big blind plays first and can:
- Raise, or
The decision goes in a clockwise formation, leaving only those who raised at the table. Next, the players can discard a card, and the dealer will issue them a fresh one. Alternatively, the player can tap the table so they can be skipped. You can discard more than one card if you prefer, and the dealer will reissue another fresh set in the manner they were dealt.
There is another round of bets, followed by a draw. The third bet round occurs, and the final draw takes place. The last bet round will also begin. The remaining players at the table will display their cards, and whoever has the best hand wins.
Rankings for Hands
Remember that 2-7 Triple Draw requires the lowest hand to win. Hence, the rankings will be inverse, and the regular straights and flushes can cause a player to lose. The easiest way to determine a winner is to announce the highest and lowest cards in a hand. The best hand to win with is 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, with no flush available.
Many players prefer this variant because it is more challenging, fast-paced, and a change from the regular winning style found in the other types of game poker. You only need your opponent’s betting patterns, body language, hand history, and the information on draw to win here.
This classic type of poker game is fun and simple to learn. If you’re a beginner poker player, you may want to start with this variant to build your understanding of the game. There are a few differences between this gameplay and that of the Omaha or Hold ’em types of poker games.
Here, a dealer is chosen, marked with a white disc that carries a “D” on its front. The small and big blinds are positioned to the left of the dealer, the small one closest. Positions also change at the end of every game round. All blinds place their forced bets here, depending on the table’s limits.
After the forced bets, the dealer issues cards to all players in a clockwise position. However, all five cards are dealt with immediately and placed face-down. As usual, all players from the left of the big blind are required to either call, raise, or fold. The betting round ends with the dealer.
What follows next is a draw round where all players are allowed to discard any number of cards. The dealer can then replace them, and if the player is OK with what is in their hand, they can “pat hand,” signaling that they are OK with their cards.
The next round of betting that follows is the second betting round. However, the difference is that any player directly to the left of the dealer starts and is offered two choices:
- Bet, or
- Check (remain on the table but not place a bet).
The rest must follow suit if the player bets by either checking or raising. They can also fold if they prefer to. After all of the players have made their choice, the next round can begin. After the second betting round, there will be a showdown if more than one player is still on board. All players reveal their hands, and the best hand is declared the winner, taking the pot.
Ranking of Hands
In a game of five-card draw, a royal flush is the best hand to have. The worst possible hand is a seven high. One of the differences between five-card draw and Omaha is that players can have a high card or a two-pair, which is considered strong in five-card draw but weak in Omaha. Hence, the strength of a hand does not really matter in a game of five-card draw poker.
Other Poker Game Types
As mentioned earlier, there are numerous poker game varieties available. Here are some others, even though they are not as popular as the above:
- 5-Card Omaha
- Razz Poker
- Guts Poker
- Chinese Poker
- Pineapple Poker
- HORSE Poker
Currently, there are over 10 different poker game types to choose from, but we have discussed the most popular variants you will find at a casino in our poker games list above. A good feature of all poker games is that they can be played in either a cash game round or a tournament.
The rules are still the same here, but the gameplay differs slightly. The following features vary somewhat:
- How the game is started
- Number of tables involved
- Buying in
- Money bets
- Fold or cash out
- Bet types, etc.
There is no answer to which poker games are the best. It depends on certain factors, including the house edge, skills needed, availability at your favorite casino, and which type of gameplay you most enjoy. If you prefer, there are even poker video games to wager on. Just make sure you choose the one that aligns with your requirements.