The Most Popular Poker Games
There are 3 main styles of poker – ‘Community Card’, ‘Draw’ and ‘Stud’.
Community Card Poker :
‘Community card’ poker games have cards dealt to the middle of the table, these cards are ‘shared’ by all the players. The most popular examples of Community card games are Texas Holdem and Omaha.
Texas Holdem Poker
The most popular poker game right now, in Texas Holdem each player receives 2 private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) and betting begins. Three community cards are then placed face-up in the middle for all players, this round is known as ‘the flop’ and is followed by another round of betting. Another community card is added, this round is known as ‘the turn’ and is again followed by betting. Finally there is ‘the river’, which consists of a 5th community card and final betting. From the remaining players still in the game, the winner is the one with the best 5-card hand, using any combination of cards from the 5 community cards and the 2 private cards.
Omaha poker is also a ‘holdem’ game with community cards. Unlike Texas Holdem, in Omaha the players initially receive 4 private ‘hole’ cards. The dealing of the community cards and betting rounds continues the same as Texas Holdem, however the end goal is different. Unlike Texas Holdem where the winning hand can consist of any combination of table and hole cards, in Omaha the winner’s 5-card hand must consist of 3 of the 5 community cards plus 2 of the 4 hole cards. Omaha is also commonly played in Hi/Lo style, where the pot is split between the player with the highest-value hand and the player with the lowest-value hand – and it’s possible for 1 player to have both.
Pineapple poker is quite common, and this game is very similar to Texas Holdem except that players initially receive 3 hole cards. The player immediately chooses 1 of their 3 cards which is then discarded, and play then continues the same as regular Texas Holdem. Another popular variation is ‘Crazy Pineapple’ where the player discards 1 of their 3 hole cards only after ‘the flop’ betting round. In Crazy Pineapple the pot is commonly split between the highest and lowest hands.
Draw Poker :
In Draw poker, each player is dealt a full hand right from the start of the game. The player then tries to improve the hand by discarding unwanted cards, replacing them with a new Draw from the deck.
5 Card Draw Poker
The most common form of Draw poker is 5 Card Draw. After each player is initially dealt 5 cards, the first round of betting begins. Players can then discard cards and draw the same number to again have a 5-card hand. A final betting round then takes place. The winner is the player with the highest-value hand among the remaining players.
Usually only played in home games, Shotgun is a fun variation on 5 Card Draw. Instead of the regular final betting round, players place their cards face-down on the table. All players then reveal their 1st card, and a round of betting takes place. All players then reveal their 2nd card, more betting, and this continues all the way to the 5th card. Players can choose the rules for winning, eg. highest value hand, lowest value hand, or commonly as a high/low split – splitting the pot between players with the highest and lowest hands.
Stud Poker :
Unlike other poker styles, in Stud poker the players are dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards. The cards dealt face-down are called the ‘hole’ cards. Each betting round is named after the number of cards being held, eg. when the players have 3 cards it is known as the ‘3rd street’, with the final round known as ‘the river’. 7 Card is currently the most popular style of Stud, and in fact 7 Card Stud was more popular than Texas Holdem until recent years. 5 Card Stud was also historically more common than 7 Card, and it’s still quite popular.
7 Card Stud Poker
Initially players are dealt 2 cards face-down plus 1 card face-up. Play then alternates between betting rounds and additional face-up cards being dealt until each remaining player has 2 face-down cards plus 4 face-up cards. The 7th card is then dealt face-down, again followed by betting. From the remaining players still in the game, the winner is the one with the best 5-card hand, using any combination of cards from the 7 available.
Razz became popular after being added to the WSOP events, especially after being televised in the 2004 WSOP, and it’s now available on many online poker sites. It’s very similar to 7 Card Stud but with the goal of having the lowest-value hand.
Other Poker Games :
There are many other styles of poker being played, with some of the more common variations including Mississippi Stud Poker, Cincinatti Poker and Badugi. There are also games that combine styles, like the following popular games.
H.O.R.S.E. is a tournament-style game combining many poker variations, with the letters standing for Holdem (Texas), Omaha (Hi/Lo), Razz, Stud (7 Card), and Eight-or-Better (7 Card Stud). Players begin with the first style of poker, playing either for a certain length of time (eg. 30 minutes) or for a certain number of hands, and then cycle through to play each of the other styles in sequence. Players must be skilled in many playing styles to defeat the other tournament players – legendary player Scotty Nguyen conquered his opponents in the 2008 WSOP H.O.R.S.E. event, receiving a massive $1,989,120 win for his victory.
Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud is similar to 5 Card Stud, but with a major difference – this is a casino game played against the ‘house’ instead of against other opponents. It was created by the highly-respected poker player/author David Sklansky in 1982 and has become very popular in both land-based and online casinos. The game was originally named Casino Poker, but is now commonly called Casino Holdem or Caribbean Stud, except in the UK where it’s often known as ‘Casino Five Card Stud Poker’. The rules are similar to regular 5 Card Stud, but the absence of human opponents means there’s no bluffing. Casinos also often have big jackpots available for winners with Flush hands, making the game even more popular.