Poker isn’t exactly a new game. Originating on the American frontier in the mid-1800s, poker is popular because of not only its simplicity, but also the ability to wager on the outcome of each game.
Over the years, poker has developed massively. From the simple game that quite literally anyone could pick up in a few hours, to a sprawling, international industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, poker has been on a pretty incredible journey from very humble roots. The thing with not just poker, but any card game, is that as they spread across territories, borders, and even time, the rules change slightly or become misinterpreted, or potentially get altered purposefully to accommodate a new way of playing the game entirely. Online gaming has become a popular trend of recent years, and online poker particular has benefitted.
Today, poker is played in dozens of different ways, with hundreds of variations and rules that can be applied to each variation. The ability to play online has only added to the number of ways to play poker, although the most popular form is Texas Hold ‘Em, with upwards of 40 million players around the world. However, Hold ‘Em is just one of many variations, and regular players often look for different ways to enjoy poker.
The following examples are all games that can be played online, with some much more popular than others. Here, we’ll give you an insight into each variation and see if it sounds more exciting than standard Hold ‘Em!
Rather than the two face-down hole cards and 5 face up community cards seen in Texas Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Stud sees each player receive 7 cards, an initial 3 cards (2 face up, 1 only visible to the player), another face up, then a fifth and 6th face up card, before being given a 7th face down. The aim of the game is to make the best 5 card hand using exposed and hidden cards.
Like Texas Hold ‘Em, each round allows for bets, but usually these are done incrementally, rather than to the player’s wishes. For example, in a 50p / £1 limit game, the bets are made in in increments of 50p on the first two rounds, and increments of £1 on the remaining rounds.
Razz is a type of stud poker where instead of aiming for runs or groups of cards that are the highest at the table, players must try and make the lowest winning hand. Ace through five are the best cards to have, with picture cards apart from the ace being the weakest.
This ‘lowball’ poker forces players to change their strategy completely, keeping cards they’d usually throw away. Razz is similar to seven-card stud, but is only played with 52 cards, rather than a shoe of 6 or 8 decks, so if there are 8 players, and nobody folds, then there’s a chance that there won’t be enough cards to continue. In this case the dealer places the last card face up, where it acts as a community card, the only instance in any poker game where this happens.
There is no doubt that the rules of Chinese Poker are a little different to traditional forms of the game, there is no up-front betting involved, making it more a game of chance. To begin with, up to four players are each dealt 13 cards, these are then split into one three-card hand and two five-card hands. The players then decide if they want to play all or any of their hands – once each player has made their decision, the hands are revealed. For each hand revealed, the player with the strongest set of cards receives a pre-determined payout from the other players. An interesting twist comes with the ability for players to announce that they have a royalty, or a particularly strong hand, prior to revealing their cards; should they then win, they receive an increased amount.
Chinese Poker is popular due to the fact that novices and esteemed players are on the same footing, right from the off. This makes it the perfect game for friends who might not want a tension-filled game.
Omaha Hold ‘Em
So you thought Texas was the only form of Hold ‘Em? Well, Omaha is just another spin on the most popular version of the game, but even this variant has it’s own spin-offs, including Omaha High, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pot-Limit Omaha. Just like Texas Hold ‘Em, betting changes with each variant, with No Limit the most popular thanks to the likelihood of huge bets being made throughout the game.
The biggest difference between Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em is that each player ends up with four-hole cards as opposed to two as the games progresses, improving the chances of getting a better five card hand (poker is always played with a five card hand). Apart from this big difference, the only other factor in Omaha Hold ‘Em is game complexity. For new players, getting used to making up the best possible hand from a maximum of 9 cards can be challenging, especially if you’re trying your hardest to figure out what everyone else around the table has, so can take some getting used to.
Probably the most ‘different’ variant on this list, Badugi uses an entirely different system for determining the winning hand, and even getting to the showdown. Badugi is a ‘blind game’, which means the player to the left of the dealer puts in the small blind and the player to the left of the small blind puts in the big blind. Each player is then dealt four cards facedown, before the first betting round begins. There are no community cards in play, and instead players must decide whether they want to throw away cards and replace new ones in return. This pattern goes around the table, until everyone has folded, or every remaining player has completed betting after the third round. The cards are then shown, and the winner announced.
Badugi uses a low-ball system, so A,2,3,4 are the best cards to have, but there are lots of rules about pairs, runs and limits on how many cards can be used to make a winning hand. Badugi can get pretty complex, so it’s definitely worth checking out the rules before jumping into a game.
So there you have it, five new different games of poker to try out instead of gravitating back to the warm comfort of Texas Hold ‘Em. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about just how complex and challenging these new variants can be though!