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Poker Variants: Master the Game and Unravel All the Mysteries of Poker

Each poker variant has its own unique strategies. In Texas Hold'em, I often consider my position at the table. Being the last to act gives me an advantage, allowing me to see my opponents' actions before making my own. In contrast, in a game like Razz, I aim for the lowest hand possible. This flips traditional poker strategies on their head, making it a refreshing change of pace.

Poker Variant Type of Poker Number of Cards Goal with the Game
Texas Hold'em Community Card 2 private, 5 community Form the highest five-card hand using any combination of your two private cards and the five community cards.
Omaha Community Card 4 private, 5 community Form the highest five-card hand using exactly two of your private cards and three of the community cards.
Seven-Card Stud Stud 7 private Form the highest five-card hand from your seven private cards.
Five-Card Draw Draw 5 private Form the highest five-card hand after one draw.
HORSE Mixed Varies Excel in Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better. The goal is to perform best across all these different games.
Eight-or-Better Stud 7 private Also known as Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, the pot is split between the highest and lowest hands, with the low hand needing to be 'eight-or-better' to qualify.
Razz Stud 7 private Form the lowest possible hand from your seven cards. Straights and flushes do not count against the hand, and aces are always low.
Five Card Stud Stud 5 private Form the highest five-card hand from your five private cards.
Badugi Draw 4 private Form the lowest four-card hand with all different suits and ranks.
2-7 Triple Draw Draw 5 private Form the lowest five-card hand after three draws.
Chinese Poker Special 13 private Arrange 13 cards into three hands in a way to beat your opponents' corresponding hands.

The Three Broad Groups of Poker Variants #

Poker variants can be broadly classified into three groups: Draw poker, Stud poker, and Community card poker.

Draw Poker #

In draw poker games, players are dealt a complete hand, hidden, and then improve it by replacing cards. The most common of these is five-card draw. In this game, players are dealt five cards and then have the opportunity to discard one or more of them in exchange for new ones from the deck.

Stud Poker #

Stud poker games involve each player receiving a combination of face-up cards and face-down cards in multiple betting rounds. The most common of these are five-card stud and seven-card stud. These two variants are further played in other different formats. In these games, players receive a mix of face-up and face-down cards over multiple betting rounds.

Community Card Poker #

Community card poker games involve each player's incomplete hidden hand being combined with shared face-up cards. The most common of these are Texas hold 'em and Omaha hold 'em. In these games, players combine their two hole cards with the five community cards to make their best five-card poker hand.

Now that we've covered the broad categories, let's dive into some specific poker variants that you might encounter.

Texas Hold'em #

Texas Hold'em is currently the most popular variant of poker. It's a community card game where each player is dealt two private cards, and five community cards are dealt face-up on the "board". The goal is to make the best five-card poker hand from any combination of your two private cards and the five community cards.

Omaha Hi #

Omaha Hi, also known as Pot-Limit Omaha, is another popular poker variant. It's similar to Texas Hold'em, but with a twist: each player starts with four private cards instead of two. However, players must use exactly two of their hole cards and three of the community cards to make their best five-card poker hand.

Seven-Card Stud #

Seven-card stud was once the most popular form of poker. Each player is dealt seven cards throughout the course of the hand, but only the best five-card poker hand possible for each player is used to determine the winner.

Razz #

Razz is a form of stud poker, but it's played for low instead of high. The aim of Razz is to make the lowest possible five-card hand from the seven cards you are dealt. In Razz, straights and flushes don't count, and the Ace is always low.

Five-Card Draw #

Five-card draw is one of the simplest forms of poker and is a great variant for beginners. Each player is dealt five private cards, and then has the opportunity to exchange any number of their cards for new ones in an attempt to improve their hand.


HORSE is a mixed game that combines five different poker variants: Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Eight-or-better. It's a challenging variant that requires players to be skilled in multiple forms of poker.

Eight-or-Better #

Eight-or-better, also known as Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better, is a split-pot game where the pot is divided between the best high hand and the best low hand, with the low hand needing to be 'eight-or-better' to qualify.

Famous Players and Their Poker Specialties #

Famous poker players often have a particular variant they excel in. Daniel Negreanu, for instance, has made a name for himself in the world of Texas Hold'em. Known for his exceptional reading abilities and strategic play, Negreanu has won numerous World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets in this variant.

Phil Ivey, on the other hand, is a master of many forms. He's known for his aggressive play and uncanny ability to read his opponents. Ivey has demonstrated his skills in a variety of poker variants, including Seven-Card Stud and Omaha, earning him multiple WSOP bracelets.

Doyle Brunson, another poker legend, is renowned for his expertise in No-Limit Texas Hold'em. His aggressive style and decades of experience have earned him a place in the Poker Hall of Fame. Brunson's book, "Super System," is considered a poker bible, offering insights into his strategies.

Vanessa Selbst, the highest earning female poker player in history, is known for her aggressive style and analytical approach to the game. Her specialty lies in No-Limit Texas Hold'em, where she has won three WSOP bracelets.

Poker is a game that requires a blend of skill, strategy, psychology, and a little bit of luck. Each variant offers a unique set of challenges and strategies. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, exploring different poker variants can enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the game. Who knows, you might just discover a new favorite variant.

Learning Resources for Poker Variants #

When it comes to learning poker, there's a wealth of resources at our fingertips. Books, in particular, offer a deep dive into the intricacies of the game. "The Theory of Poker" by David Sklansky is a standout. It delves into the fundamental theories of poker and provides a comprehensive understanding of the game's strategies. Sklansky's book is a must-read for anyone serious about improving their poker game.

Online resources are also invaluable. Websites like PokerStars School offer free tutorials on various poker variants. These tutorials range from beginner to advanced levels, making it a great resource for players at all stages of their poker journey.

For a more interactive learning experience, online forums like TwoPlusTwo provide a platform for discussions and strategy sharing among poker enthusiasts worldwide. It's a vibrant community where you can learn from others' experiences and share your own.

Lastly, don't underestimate the value of watching professional poker games. Observing the strategies employed by top players in real-time can be incredibly enlightening. Websites like YouTube and Twitch host numerous poker games, allowing you to learn from the best in the comfort of your own home.

Poker Variants FAQ #

Poker variants are the different versions of the game, each with its own unique set of rules and strategies. They include Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, Razz, and many others.

Texas Hold'em is currently the most popular poker variant. It's a community card game where each player is dealt two private cards, and five community cards are dealt face-up on the 'board'.

Yes, there are many different versions of poker, known as variants. These include community card games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha, stud games like Seven-Card Stud and Razz, and draw games like Five-Card Draw.

The difficulty of a poker variant can vary greatly depending on the individual's skills and experience. However, many consider mixed games like HORSE to be among the hardest, as they require proficiency in several different poker variants.

Five-Card Draw is often considered one of the easiest poker variants, making it a great choice for beginners. The rules are simple and straightforward, and it provides a good foundation for learning other variants.

While the exact origins of poker are unclear, the game as we know it today is thought to have evolved from early card games in the 19th century. The oldest poker variant that's still widely played today is probably Five-Card Draw.

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