Types of Poker – An Overview of Popular Poker Variations Worldwide
Avid poker fans would be delighted to learn that there are many different types of poker games available. With ancient roots dating back almost a millennium ago, poker has crossed multiple continents and cultures.
Some experts say its origins can be traced back to a 10th century Chinese emperor’s card game while others claim it came from a Persian card game played in the 16th century. Due to its rich history, poker has branched into many different variations.
Let’s take a look at the different types of poker games that are popular today. If you're interested in gaining more knowledge about playing poker efficiently, I suggest checking out our guide for beginner poker players.
Classification of Poker Variants
As the most lucrative casino game in the world, it is no surprise it has so many types of poker games around the world. In fact, no one really knows how many variants there are since its invention. However, there are variations that overlap, falling into one category more than the other, or even none at all.
Main Poker Categories
Traditionally, poker games can be classified into draw games, stud games, and shared or community card games depending on how the cards are dealt. Besides the 3 main categories, another one would be mixed poker games.
Draw poker games are where players can improve their hands by replacing a number of cards. In draw poker, punters are initially dealt a completely hidden hand where you are then allowed to pick out cards that you want to replace.
In stud poker games, players receive a hand with cards that are faced up and faced down. No replacements are allowed and the final hand includes all original cards. Stud poker is often easier for beginners as less decisions are required. Once the hand is dealt, the player decides either to play or fold the hand.
Shared / Community Card Poker
As its name suggests, shared card poker is where players are dealt their own cards. Additional cards dealt on the table can then be used by every player in combination with their own cards to achieve the best hand possible.
Mixed Poker Games
Mixed poker games refer to several poker variants played in succession, be it in a fixed or random sequence. The combination of different poker variations can often be confusing, especially for new poker players.
Before delving into the popular poker games played today, here are some other terms to help you better understand how poker games are categorized.
- Low – Low or lowball poker are games where the lowest poker hand wins.
- High / Low – In high / low games, the pot is won by having the highest or lowest hand in the round.
- Wild – Wild poker games refer to certain cards being designated as “wild”. These cards can be used to represent any card to improve the player’s hand.
- Split – In split poker, the pot is divided between two or more winners depending on the rules. Examples include highest or lowest hand, highest spade card, and more.
- Buy – Buy poker games are where players can pay extra for privilege such as exchanging or getting an extra card.
- Pass – Pass poker allows players to pass some cards to others or to trade with them.
- Match – In match poker, remaining players who complete the round but do not win the showdown pay a penalty.
- Other – This refers to games that are not in any specific category, but are allowed as options in dealer’s choice games.
Popular Poker Variants
After understanding how poker games are categorized or classified, here is a brief overview of the most popular poker variations played today:
Five Card Draw
One of the most popular draw poker games, 5-card draw poker is commonly played at home, online, and casinos. Due to its fairly straightforward rules, beginners to poker can often start with this variation. Depending on the game, players may be required to pay an ante to start the game. Five cards are dealt to each player who then discards and replaces cards. In the final betting round, the hand with the best five card hand wins.
2-7 Triple Draw
In 2-7 triple draw poker, players are dealt a hidden hand of five cards before wagering begins. Once the round starts, each player is then allowed to swap or replace their cards with the dealer, a process that continues for three rounds. The best low ranking poker hand wins.
Another popular draw poker variant, Badugi is a game where the traditional poker hand ranking structure remains. The twist instead is that the aces now have a low value. Each player is dealt four cards and in all three betting rounds, players can draw up to four cards. The final best hand wins.
Examples of Other Draw Games
|Draw Poker Variants||Poker Categories|
|Five card draw deuces wild||Draw, Wild|
|Five card draw with a bug||Draw, Wild|
|Five card double draw high-low||Draw, High / Low, Split|
|6 card draw||Draw|
|7 card draw||Draw|
|8 game mix||Draw, Shared, Low, High / Low, Split, Mixed|
|Auction flop poker||Draw, Buy|
|California lowball||Draw, Low, Wild|
Seven Card Stud
An older stud poker variant, 7-card stud, is popular among US military members. Players are dealt 7 cards each. It has a maximum of 8 players due to the limitations of the standard 52-card deck. The round starts with 2 face-down and 1 face-up cards. Betting continues until the seventh card and the best five card combination wins the pot.
As its name suggests, high-low stud poker is played with the pot being split between the highest and lowest hand. If there is no qualifying low hand, the player with the best poker hand wins the entire pot.
In razz poker, the lowest ranking hand wins the pot. However, note that the versions may differ depending on the rules for treating straights and flushes as high or low. A popular type of razz poker is the London Lowball where straights count against the player.
Examples of Other Stud Poker Games
|Stud Poker Variants||Poker Categories|
|Five card stud high-low with a buy||Stud, High / Low, Split, Buy|
|Aces, straights, and flushes||Stud, Shared|
|Anaconda / Pass the trash||Stud, High / Low, Split, Pass|
|Dead deuce||Stud, Wild|
|Stud jack||Stud, Split|
|Ten card regrets||Stud, High / Low, Split|
|Train Wreck||Stud, Buy, Pass|
|Wall Street||Stud, High / Low, Split, Buy|
Community Card Poker
Easily one of the most popular poker games today, Texas Hold’em is played commonly in online poker rooms and televised poker. It is easy to learn, making it a great option for beginners. Players are dealt two private cards known as hole cards. With four rounds of betting: pre-flop, flop, turn, and river, players race to get the best hand or bluff their way through the game.
Also known as Omaha or Omaha High, many players consider this poker variant to be the hardest form of poker to master as it is both difficult to learn and bluff your way through it. Players are dealt four cards. Combined with the public cards dealt on the table, you get to choose two out of the four cards in hand to make the best hand.
Similar to Texas Hold’em but with several twists, players are dealt three cards each and discards one. The first betting round begins with the same rules as Texas Hold’em. Other pineapple poker versions such as crazy pineapple require players to hold all three cards until just before the dealer deals the fourth card. There is also a lazy pineapple version.
Examples of Other Community Card Poker Games
|Community Poker Variants||Poker Categories|
|Boise||Shared, High / Low, Split|
|Cincinnati||Shared, Wild, Split|
|Cold Omaha||Shared, High / Low, Split|
|Crazy blind man||Shared, Pass|
|Cucamonga||Shared, High / Low, Split|
|Doogie||Shared, High / Low, Split|
|King’s pot||Shared, Buy|
|Pyramid||Shared, High / Low, Split, Wild|
Mixed Poker Games
There are several mixed poker games available but the most famous one would be HORSE or H.O.R.S.E. poker due to its debut in the World Series of Poker in 2002. It has since remained in many poker tournaments since. The HOSE variant drops Razz from the cycle while CHORSE adds in Crazy Pineapple or Chowaha to the mix. HORSE cycles play rounds among:
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi Lo
- Seven card stud
- Eight or better (Seven card stud high low)
Examples of Other Mixed Poker Games
|Mixed Poker Variants||Poker Categories|
|8 game mix||Draw, Shared, Low, High / Low, Split, MIxed|
|Bonus round||Match, Mixed, Other|
|Dealer’s choice||Match, Mixed Other|
|CHORSE||Shared, Low, High / Low, Split, Mixed|
|CHORSEL||Draw, Shared, Low, High / Low, Split, Mixed, Wild|
Specific Poker Variant Games
Although most poker games can be categorized in the four groups above, there are also some that do not fit into any of the categories. Most of these games are often played as part of dealer’s choice or at home. Examples include
High Chicago / Low Chicago
Tweaking the formula of seven card stud poker, the game can be played as high hand or low hand. This means the highest or lowest spade face down card automatically wins half the pot while the other half goes to the best hand. If the best hand also has the highest or lowest spade face down card, that player wins it all.
Played with two to four players, each punter will receive thirteen cards that are split in two hands with five cards and one hand with three cards. Each hand is designated a name. The three card hand is called the “front” while the other two are the “middle” and “back”. The aim is to have the lowest ranking front hand and highest ranking back hand.
Examples of Other Specific Poker Games
Besides the more popular Low Chicago, High Chicago, and Chinese Poker variants, other examples include Countdown, Five-O Poker, Guts, Follow The Queen, and Kuhn Poker.
The general acceptance of poker can be attributed largely due to the influence of American soldiers during World War One. Most of the variants you see today have been tweaked and refined to reach its final form. With the many variants of poker games you see today, avid poker fans will find it hard to run out of new variants to learn and play.