Texas Holdem Games & Variations

Texas holdem is the most popular variation of poker played
online and in casinos and poker rooms everywhere in the world.
Its popularity has led to many different variations, both in
casinos and in home and private games.

The first three sections below include information about
limits that Texas holdem and its variants can be played in. Any
of the variants listed in the sections after the next three can
be played in any of the three limits.

The game variants listed in the sections after the limit
sections have varying degrees of popularity. Omaha holdem can be
found in many poker rooms and casinos and is widely available
online. Pineapple can be found in a limited number of poker
rooms, and most of the others are only found in private and home
games at this time.


A limit betting structure is commonly found in use for Texas
holdem games, but it isn’t as popular as no limit play. In limit
play each betting round has a set betting limit. This limit is
usually one amount during the flop and immediately following the
flop and twice this amount on the turn and river betting rounds.


A limit Texas holdem game with a 4 / 8 limit has bets of $4
during the first two betting rounds and exactly $8 during the
final two betting rounds. So each bet and / or raise is exactly
$4 before and on the flop. If player 1 bets $4 and player 2
raises she must put $8 in the pot, $4 to call the original bet
and a raise of another $4.

Blinds are usually set based on the limits, with the big
blind being equal to the lower betting limit and the small blind
being half the big blind. In the example we just looked at the
big blind would be $4 and the small blind is $2.

No Limit

No limit play has the same blind structure found in limit
games and usually has a minimum bet limit per round, but at any
time a player, when it’s their turn to act, may bet up to and
including the total number of chips they have in front of them.
This is the most common betting structure found in Texas holdem
games and also most of the variations listed below except for
Omaha holdem.

One of the common misconceptions of non-poker players and
beginners is if a player has more money than another and moves
all of their chips into the pot that the player with fewer chips
can’t play or loses automatically. What actually happens is the
player with more chips gets back their chips in excess of the
other player’s total amount.


I player A has $250 and moves all in and player B has $200
and calls, player A receives $50 back so each player has $200 in
the pot.

This can get somewhat complicated if multiple players are in
a pot with differing chip stacks. When multiple players get all
in with different stack sizes the dealer creates different pots
with the main pot being the total amount of the player with the
smallest stack which anyone remaining in the hand can win.

The first side pot will be bets in excess of the amount the
smallest stack held, with only players who contribute to the
second pot eligible to win it. A third, fourth, and so on, side
pot can be built in large multi way pots. You don’t have to
worry about this as the dealer takes care of it, but it’s good
to understand how it works to make sure the dealer doesn’t make
any mistakes.


A pot ends up with four players all in, and the hand starts
with the following chip counts:

  • Player A has $700 in chips
  • Player B has $800 in chips
  • Player C has $900 in chips
  • Player D has $1,000 in chips

The main pot ends up with $2,800 in it and any of the four
players can win it. The first side pot has $300 in it and
players B, C, and D can each win it. The second side pot ends up
with $200 in it and only players C and D can win it. Notice that
player D will only have $900 invested because she started with
at least $100 more money than any of the other players.

At the showdown the player who’s eligible for each pot with
the highest hand is awarded that pot. Different players can win
each pot or the same player can win all of the pots. This
example ignores the small amount of the blinds and rake that
often make a pot not come out quite so evenly for instructional

Pot Limit

Pot limit is mostly found in Omaha games, but a few Texas
holdem games are played in a pot limit format. One of the issues
with pot limit play is the dealer has to understand how the
betting structure works and be able to quickly determine the pot
size. When playing online the software platform takes care of
all of the calculations, but in live play the dealer needs to be
either experienced, or quite sharp, or both.

The blinds and minimum bets on each round are set by the
house, just like in limit and no limit play, but the maximum
amount any player may bet at one time is the amount of money in
the pot. But the amount of the pot also includes the amount it
takes to call an earlier bet, so a pot sized bet can be bigger
than most players think. Look at the two following examples for
a better understanding of how pot sized bets work.

Example #1

The pot has $125 in it after the flop and the
first player wants to raise the size of the pot. She bets $125
and play continues to the next player. This is fairly
straightforward and easy, because the player is starting the
betting round.

Example #2

Using the previous example as a setup, the next
player to act wants to raise as much as possible. The pot now
has $250 in it, but the maximum raise is actually higher than
$250. Though the player must state their intention to raise, the
pot size is calculated by first adding the call of $125 to the
pot and then determining the maximum raise amount. So once the
$125 call is added the pot now has $375 in it, so the player can
raise another $375. So they put a total of $500 in the pot,
which is the $125 call and the $375 raise.

This is why the dealer needs to understand how pot limit play
works and stay on top of the game.

In real life pot limit games it’s rarely this complicated and
most poker rooms let players operate with bet maximums close to
the pot size. If the pot has anywhere between $90 and $110 or
somewhere close to this range a player can bet $100. As long as
players are close to the pot size with their maximum bets it’s
usually acceptable for all of the players. This way the dealer
doesn’t have to keep an exact count on the pot.

Occasionally you’ll play against a player who can keep the
running pot amount in his or her head and announce it whenever
anyone needs to know. This can be a bit intimidating, but most
of these players aren’t any more than decent poker players. Just
because you can keep track of a pot doesn’t mean you’re a great
poker player.


Pineapple poker is played exactly like Texas holdem except
you start with three hole cards instead of two. You discard one
card face down before the flop. Traditionally you discard your
third card after the pre flop betting round, but in some places
you discard it before the pre flop betting round. It doesn’t
really matter which way you play, as long as you stay

Most Pineapple games are played as no limit, but it can
easily be played in limit and pot limit. In comparison to Texas
holdem, Pineapple hand values run a little higher, but not
extremely so. Three of a kind hands and flushes are more likely
to happen in Pineapple because it’s easier to start with a
pocket pair and it’s more likely to have two cards of the same

Overall, if you can beat Texas holdem you should be able to
quickly adjust your game to be a winning Pineapple player. The
same concepts of tight and aggressive play tend to do well in
Pineapple, just like in Texas holdem. Poor players tend to play
too many hands in Pineapple because they have a third starting
card, making it look like they have a better hand than they
really do.

Crazy Pineapple

Crazy Pineapple starts the same way as regular Pineapple, but
you don’t discard your third hole card until after the betting
round following the flop. This tends to make players stay in the
hand longer, leading to larger average pots than in a similar
Texas holdem game. It’s usually played in no limit format.

The average winning hand strength is better than in a Texas
holdem game because of the extra starting card and the
possibility to see six total cards before the turn and river.
Just like regular Pineapple, if you’re a good holdem player you
shouldn’t have much trouble adjusting your game to be a winning
Crazy Pineapple player.

Omaha Holdem

Omaha holdem, often just called Omaha, is the second most
popular form of poker played online and in poker rooms around
the world. The main differences between Texas holdem and Omaha
are each player receives four hole cards instead of two, and
each player must use exactly two of their hole cards and three
community cards to make a hand.

Omaha is sometimes played as high only, like Texas holdem,
but it’s also played in high / low, usually with an eight high
qualifier. Though 7 Card Stud can be played high / low, Omaha is
about the only game found at this time that is played for low.
Razz is a low only game, but finding a game is almost

In a high / low Omaha game the pot is split between the best
high hand and the best low hand if a qualifying low hand is
shown down. A qualifying low hand must have five unpaired cards
ranked eight or below. See our Omaha poker section for a
complete explanation of the rules.

From a strategy standpoint if you’re starting to play Omaha
and have been playing Texas holdem, the most important thing to
remember is just because you have twice as many hole cards it
doesn’t mean you can play twice as many hands. You should
actually play no more hands than a winning Texas holdem player
does, and many good Omaha players play fewer hands.

The other important thing that trips up many beginning Omaha
players is never forget you have to use two of your hole cards.

You can’t use more or less than three community cards. This
can lead to costly mistakes if you forget it.

Omaha, in both high only and high / low, can be played in no
limit, pot limit, or limit, but most games are limit and pot

Aviation Holdem

Aviation holdem is a cross between Omaha and Pineapple. You
start with four hole cards and discard one before the flop and
another one after the flop. This form of holdem is rare and most
players aren’t familiar with it. The odds of it passing Omaha in
popularity aren’t good because it’s almost exactly like Omaha
high only, but in Omaha you keep all four cards for the entire

The value of winning hands at showdown is almost identical to
Omaha high only, which means better than the average Texas
holdem hand, but not outrageously better. Winning Texas holdem
players and wining Omaha payers won’t have much trouble
adjusting to Aviation holdem winning play.

Tahoe Holdem or Lazy Pineapple

Tahoe holdem, also called Lazy Pineapple in some places, has
each player receive three hole cards and keep them throughout
the hand. It’s a cross between Texas holdem and Omaha. Other
than three hole cards it plays exactly like Texas holdem.

This variation can be played in a high / low split version
like Omaha high / low, but it’s rarely played this way. The
average winning hand value is slightly better than Texas holdem,
but not extremely better.

Speed Holdem

Of all of the variations listed on this page Speed holdem is
probably the rarest and is only found in home or private games.
In Speed holdem each player is dealt four hole cards and each
player immediately discards two of them. Then all five community
cards are dealt face up in the center of the table. This is
followed by the single betting round and showdown.

All other rules are the same as a normal Texas holdem game
and Speed holdem can be played in limit, pot limit, and no limit
varieties, but it’s almost always played in no limit.


It’s easy to get bored playing regular Texas holdem, which
leads to all kinds of problems. When you get bored you may play
too many hands, let your mind wander so you miss important parts
of the game, and just play worse than normal overall.

Now you know how to play many of the popular variations of
Texas holdem, so the next time you start getting bored or just
want a change, look for one of the variations listed above. Or
get some friends together and start your own game of Pineapple
or Tahoe holdem.