Top 5 Poker Variants
Poker has been on a long and exciting journey all the way from its invention in the USA up to today where millions of poker lovers around the world play poker online. In recent years poker has seen its ups and downs in terms of popularity. The popularity of the game peaked in the early 2000s and has now slowed compared to those years, but poker remains one of the most popular card games in the world. Let’s take a quick look at the history of poker, how it transitioned to an online game, and some of the most popular poker variants today.
As with many games, no one really knows where the roots of poker are from. There are many alternate theories going around to explain where the game originated. The poker history that is most accepted comes from the early 1800s in the USA. There are many accounts of poker games during this time period. However, it was not until around 1829 when people started to play poker more regularly according to historical records. The game spread quickly throughout the west and western saloons hosted poker games regularly where cowboys congregated.
Regardless of the card play mechanics that could have derived from any number of earlier card games, what made poker unique is its connection with gambling. Much like horse racing in the United Kingdom, poker has always been connected with gambling, and its increase in popularity also coincides with the increase in popularity of card and table game gambling in the United States and around the world.
The World Series of Poker
The poker game that we know today has evolved from poker games of the past, but poker tournaments were not common during poker’s early days. Poker tournaments came into existence in 1970 with an event called The Texas Gambling Reunion which took place in Reno, Nevada. Since then the popularity of poker tournaments has only continued to rise and it is now an established world event known as the World Series of Poker.
Two major occurrences caused the first poker ‘wave’ in the late 1980s. California legalized Hold’em and Omaha flop games in 1987, as well as stud. Previously, only drawcard games were permitted.
Second, in 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), legalizing casino games on Native American reservations. Within a few years, poker rooms sprouted up all over the country. This further enhanced poker’s reputation as a global phenomenon.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) International Circuit was formed in 2015. Events take place in Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa. The WSOP Circuit champions compete for the chance to participate in the WSOP Global Casino Championship. Unfortunately, because of the global pandemic, these events have now shifted to online tournaments, but the increase in telecommunications means that these events still occur seamlessly.
It’s not only poker history that makes poker so popular but also poker variants of poker games – poker history would not be complete without poker variants. We are going to take a look at some of the other popular variations of poker, explain a little bit how to play them and discuss how popular they currently are.
Popular Poker Variants
There are poker variants that poker enthusiasts play all of their poker lives without ever getting bored. The 5 poker games below are some of those poker variants. We are going to take a look at five of the most popular poker game variations that gamblers can play at online casinos today.
Although Texas Hold’em seemingly dominates the poker world at the moment, it is not the only poker game around and is not necessarily the most popular variant of the game all around the world.
Texas Hold’em Poker
Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular poker variant, with hundreds of ring game table games and tournaments taking place every week. It is also the variant that is played during the World Series of Poker events.
The dealer gives each player two cards, which are secret from other players. These cards are the hole cards or pocket cards. The dealer then spreads out five cards, in a certain pattern, face up, for all players to see. First, the dealer will lay down three at once. The dealer puts one other card down. Finally, the dealer puts one another card now. All players can use these community cards to create the best possible five-card hand. If a player so wishes they can also use just the community cards and ignore their own cards. Players take turns betting before and after each card reveal.
Like most other poker games the poker hands are then ranked based on the poker hand ranking. The poker hand ranking begins with just a “high card”, which is determined by comparing the individual ranks of each player’s hidden cards. If more than one player has equal high cards then all those players split the pot equally.
Pot Limit Omaha Poker
There are several types of Omaha poker, but Pot Limit is the most common. Because it has a lot of action, Pot-Limit Omaha is popular among Europeans and high-stakes gamblers. A player may wager anything in the pot (i.e., $100 into a $100 pot).
It is similar to Texas Hold’em in that there is a combination of community cards and personal cards to make the player hand.
The dealer gives each player four private cards (‘hole cards’) which belong only to that player, in contrast to the 2 cards for Texas Hold’em. The dealer then deals five community cards face-up on the ‘board’. The dealer deals the cards in the same manner as Texas Hold’em, with three cards placed first, then a single card, then the final card. Players bet before and after each round.
In Omaha games, all players combine exactly three of the community cards with exactly two of their hole cards to create the greatest five-card poker hand. There’s no more or less than that. The best possible five-card poker hand, using exactly two hole cards and three community cards, wins the pot.
7 Card Stud
Texas Hold’em has taken over the world of poker, but Stud poker was formerly the most popular style. Many people consider it the “classic” form of poker.
In Seven Card Stud, the dealer gives each player seven cards throughout the hand, but only the best five-card poker hand possible for that player determines the winner. There are no community cards and there are fixed betting limits. If you like slower games with betting restrictions that reward strong memory, Seven-Stud is a good fit.
The game starts with the dealer giving each player two cards face down and one card face up. Then there is a round of betting. The dealer then gives each player one card face up. There is another betting round. Then the dealer gives each player another card face up, then another round of betting. This repeats one more time, so at this point, each player should have six cards, two face down and four face up. The dealer then gives each player the final card face down. The players then have to show their cards making the best five card combination out of the seven cards they have.
If you want something that is a bit different then Razz might be the poker variation for you. Razz is a lowball game which means the card and hand rankings are flipped. The goal in Razz is to make the worst possible hand according to traditional poker hand rankings. Aces are low and straights and flushes do not count. Considering that, the best hand to get in Razz would be 5, 4, 3, 2, A.
Razz, like Stud, provides a significant edge to players that learn to watch and track cards. It’s simple to pick up and has a slow, calm rhythm of play.
2-7 (Deuce to Seven) Triple Draw
Many players think of 2-7 as the greatest lowball game of all time. The 2-7 Triple Draw is a limit game with no community cards and blinds. It’s really easy, but you must have some fundamentals under your belt.
Just as in Razz in 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball the low poker hand wins the pot at showdown. It is also a ‘draw’ game, meaning that the dealer gives you five cards, and may discard from zero to five of them on the draw, and receive that number of replacement cards. In Triple Draw, each player has the opportunity to draw three times, though you may ‘stand pat’ (not discard any cards) on any or all of the draws.
Where it differs from Razz is that straights and flushes count against making a low hand and Aces are always high. Taking this in mind, the best possible hand in deuce to seven is… 7-5-4-3-2 (surprise!).
If you like bluffing and mind games, then 2-7 might be the game for you.
As you can see there are many ways of winning at poker and many different variations. The most important thing to keep in mind is to know the specific guidelines of the game you’re in.
For example, always make sure to know:
- Does a high hand or low hand win the game?
- If the game is hi/low (where the high hand and the low hand split the pot)
- Whether the Ace is high or low
- If there are wild cards
- Is there is a pot limit?
There are different ways of playing poker. It is a good way of amusement and distraction. So, pick your favourite type of poker and start shuffling your cards. Let the game begin!
Pokerstars Poker Rooms
If you want to try out some online poker or one of the poker variants which we discussed above you should consider signing up with Pokerstars.
- Visit Pokerstars using our link.
- Click on Join.
- Fill in the registration form.
- Verify your account and enjoy!