Poker Games: The Different Types of Poker
When people think of poker, Texas Hold'em is probably the first version they have in mind. This is certainly the most popular form of poker at the moment, but there are several other variants of the game that shouldn't be overlooked. There's Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Five Card Draw to name just a few. There are even variants which combine a number of different games into one, such as H.O.R.S.E. and 10 Game Mix.
In this section of our poker guide you can find out more about a number of different poker variants, by reading our game guides that are listed below. These contain everything you need to know about each variant, including the rules of how to play them.
Further down this page we look at the various ways that a game of poker can be categorized, along with the different structures and formats that can be used. We also have some advice for choosing which type of poker to play.
Top Poker Variants: Game Details & Rules
Texas Hold'em is by far the most well-known version of poker available today. It's the most widely played both live and online, and it's the variant of choice for many of the biggest games and tournaments in the world. It's one of the easier games to learn too and therefore great for beginners.
Omaha High is usually just referred to as Omaha. The game shares many similarities with Texas Hold'em and it's often the second poker variant that players learn how to play. It has become more widely played in the last few years and it's especially popular with players who crave a lot of action.
Omaha Hi/Lo is very similar to Omaha High and it can also be referred to as Eight or Better or Omaha/8. The interesting aspect of this variant is that players have to form TWO hands with their hole cards and the community cards: a high hand and a low hand. The goal is to have the highest high hand and the lowest low hand. Confusing, but fun!
Seven Card Stud used to be the poker variant of choice for professional players, before Texas Hold'em started to dominate the game. It's still widely played today but it's not nearly as popular as it used to be. The strategy involved is greatly affected by the fact that you can see a number of cards in your opponents' hands.
Razz is different from the more traditional poker variants, because the aim of the game is to have the lowest ranked hand rather than the highest. This makes for a very interesting game. Razz isn't as popular as Texas Hold'em and Omaha but it's widely available at online poker sites, which is how this game has been introduced to a wider audience.
Five Card Draw is easily one of the simplest poker variants in existence. For many people it's the poker game that they learned before any other game and grew up playing. There's less strategy involved in Five Card Draw than most of the other variants, which makes it a great game for some fun gambling.
Deuce to Seven Triple Draw is another game where the goal is to have the lowest ranked hand. It's usually a pretty crazy game that's filled with a lot of action, but it's relatively easy to learn and there isn't a huge amount of strategy involved. This is a game that can provide a fun change of pace to try something different.
Badugi is one of the more unusual poker variants. It's not as widely played as many of the other games we've mentioned here, but it does seem to be growing in popularity. One of the main aspects of the game that makes it unusual is the fact that players only have four cards in their hand, as opposed to the traditional five.
Mixed poker games can be a great deal of fun but they can also be very confusing for some players. They basically combine different variants into a single game. Players play one hand (or a number of hands) of one variant and then play a number of hands of another variant. You need to concentrate hard when playing these games! The following are some of the more popular formats of this type.
For a more complete list of mixed poker games and for full details on how they are played, please see the following page:
Understanding the Different Types of Poker Games
Although poker is a relatively simple game, the fact that it can be played in so many different formats and structures does make things more complicated. In addition to all the variants of the game that we mentioned above, a game of poker can also be classified in a number of other ways.
Below we have explained all about the different types of poker in some detail, which should hopefully help make things clearer for you.
The Three Main Types of Poker
There are three main classifications of poker: draw poker, stud poker, and community card poker. Pretty much every single variant of the game will fall into one of these categories.
Games in this category are those in which players are dealt hands that are hidden from their opponents and players can try to improve their hands by replacing a certain number of cards. Of the variants that we've listed above, Five Card Draw and Badugi fall into this category.
Stud games involve players being dealt hands that contain a combination of hidden and exposed cards, so their opponents have some information about what they might have. Seven Card Stud and Razz are two examples of stud games.
This category of games is for those which use community cards or shared cards. Players are dealt hidden cards and use them in combination with the community cards to form their hands. Two very popular games in this category are Texas Hold'em and Omaha.
Additional Types of Poker
In most forms of poker, it's the highest ranked hand that wins the pot. There are, however, two additional types of games where this isn't the case. Some poker variants are classified as either lowball games or high-split games, and how each one works varies slightly.
In lowball games, it's the lowest hand that wins the pot. In games of this type there are specific rules about whether straights and flushes count and whether an ace is a high or low ranked card. Deuce to Seven Triple Draw and Razz are examples of lowball games.
High-low split games, such as Omaha Hi/Lo, are generally some of the more complicated poker variants. In these, the pot is divided equally between the player with the highest hand and the player with the lowest hand. In some instances, it's possible for a player to have both the highest hand and the lowest hand. Since these games are complex in nature, they aren't recommended for beginners.
Cash Games and Tournaments
Any poker variant can be played in either a cash game format or a tournament format. The main rules of the game are fundamentally the same in both but there are several key differences in how they work.
The following are some of the main ways in which these two tournaments differ.
If you would like to know about how cash games and tournaments work, including details on the above differences, please read the following article.
You should also be aware that tournaments can be categorized based on a range of factors. There are several different types of tournaments and we explain more about these in the following article.
Most poker variants can be played using different betting structures or betting limits. These determine the rules for how much you can bet and raise in certain situations. The three main types of betting structures that you should know are fixed limit, no limit, and pot limit.
In fixed limit there are fixed amounts for how much players can bet and raise by. Generally these fixed amounts are at a certain level during the early betting rounds of a hand and then increased for the later betting rounds. The total number of raises allowed in each betting round is limited, usually to three.
The only restrictions in no limit are that players have to bet or raise by at least a minimum amount, and they can't bet or raise by more money than what they have at the table. There, however is no limit on the total number of raises during a betting round.
In pot limit, players' bets and raises are limited by the total number of chips in the pot at the time they are about to act. This betting structure is a little more complicated than the previous two, due to the calculations involved, but it doesn't take too long to understand.
You can read more about exactly how pot limit works, along with the other betting structures, in the following article.
Table Size/Number of Players
A game of poker can also be classified based on the table size, or more accurately the number of players allowed per table. There are three different formats relating to the number of players allowed: full ring, short-handed, and heads up.
A full ring game utilizes the whole table, which means the maximum number of players is usually ten. Some full ring games limit the number of players to nine. Please note that a full ring game doesn't have to involve nine or ten players in order to run; the term just relates to the maximum amount of players that can take part.
A shorthanded game limits the number of players that can sit at the table. The maximum is usually six, which is why this format is also commonly known as six-max. As with full ring games, a shorthanded game can still run even if there are less than the maximum number of players at the table.
A heads up game is between just two opponents. This has become an increasingly popular format online, but you won't often find it in live card rooms as it's not an efficient use of the tables.
Most casinos and poker rooms only run full ring games, as this allows the maximum number of players to take part. Online, however, you'll find a great selection of shorthand and heads up games.
Which Game or Type of Poker Is Best?
There's no way to accurately answer this question, as it depends on a number of factors. The best game for one player isn't necessarily the best game for another player. Your style of play may be suited to a particular type of poker, which makes it easier to make a decision. However, this isn't necessarily the case for everyone.
The only advice we can give you is to learn as much as you can about the different types, variants, formats, and structures. This way you can make a more informed decision about which game is likely to be best for you. Some of the factors you might want to consider are as follows.
You may not be able to answer the above questions without trying out a few different games of course. This is actually something that we recommend doing at some point in your poker playing career anyways. There's absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time just experimenting with different formats and structures that you aren't familiar with, as it's realistically the only way to discover which type of poker is ultimately the right one for you.
It's also worth bearing in mind that you don't have to limit yourself to a single game type. Some players find it very hard to switch between different games and prefer to focus on just one, but there are plenty of players who enjoy mixing things up too.
If you are completely new to poker and have no idea where to start, our view is that Texas Hold'em is the best game for beginners. It's the most popular, the most widely available, and it's one of the easier games to learn. You should try out cash games and tournaments, to get a feel for which format you prefer, and you should probably try both fixed limit and no limit games as well.
Once you're familiar with Texas Hold'em, you can then start thinking about trying some of the other variants. Omaha is considered by many to be a good second game to learn, but it's really up to you. Just remember that it's always a good idea to play for low stakes when you're trying a new type of game, as you don't want to blow through your bankroll too quickly while you're still learning.