Poker Variants

Our ‘Cards On The Table’ Guide To The Best Poker Games

What’s your game? Poker has come a long way from the 19th-century gambling salons of New Orleans. From Vegas to Venice, it’s a global phenomenon played by millions in one form or another. Explore the most popular variations of poker being played today.

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All the Types of Poker

Poker offers a veritable buffet of game variants to choose from, but mostly all fall into one of three categories; Draw Poker, Stud Poker and Community Card Poker. Community Card poker is by far the most popular group of poker variations and includes Texas Hold ‘em.

1. Texas Hold’em

The most popular poker game variant in the world, Texas Hold ‘em is synonymous with poker. Players receive two cards face down before an additional five cards are dealt face-up in three stages; the Flop, the Turn and the River.

2. Omaha

2nd in popularity to Texas Hold ‘em, the Omaha poker variant is also a community card poker game that deals the players four cards face down rather than two. Apart from that difference, it is played virtually the same way as Texas Hold ‘em.

3. 7-Card Stud 

7-Card Stud used to be the most popular variation of poker in North America before Texas Hold ‘em took over. Players receive three cards face down and an additional four cards face-up. The highest-ranking five-card hand wins.

4. Five-Card Draw

A kitchen table favourite, Five-Card Draw is among the easiest poker variants to learn. Players are dealt five cards face down. After a betting round, players can choose to discard cards from their hands and draw replacement cards from the deck. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot.

5. 3 Card Poker

3 Card Poker is one of the fastest types of poker to learn and play. Developed as a casino table game, 3 Card Poker is played against the dealer. The highest-ranking three-card hand wins based on five-card poker hand rankings. A Mini-Flush typically pays out at 50:1, a Straight Flush at 40:1 and Three of a Kind at 30:1.

6. Caribbean Stud Poker

This poker variation is a mainstream casino favourite, also known as Casino Stud Poker. Based on 5-Card Stud, this type of poker is played against the Casino House. Bluffing is not allowed. Five cards are dealt to the players face down. After the dealer reveals one of his cards, bets are placed. This poker variant has a high House Edge

7. Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em

Created for the Casino tables by Bally Games, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em is another of the types of poker adapted for casino play. Players go up against the dealer in what is in all other aspects a Texas Hold ‘em game. A Royal Flush is the highest five-card hand and typically pays out at 500:1.

8. 5-Card Omaha

This is one of the more popular variations of poker with Texas Hold ‘em players namely because they are dealt five cards face down (hole cards) with a better chance of getting a good hand out of the gate. This interest can increase pot values dramatically. The highest-ranking five-card hand wins. 

9. Double Draw

A poker variant played with the Jokers that can be used to complete straights or flushes, or as Aces. Double Draw poker gives players two chances to discard cards and make the best five-card hands. Because of the Jokers, Five of a Kind is the highest-ranked hand and typically pays out at 500:1 in the casinos.

10. Short Deck

Instead of adding cards (Jokers) to the deck like Double Draw, Short Deck removes every card from two through five, leaving thirty-six cards in play.  Players are dealt two cards face down before a sequence of five community cards are dealt face-up; the Flop, Turn and River. The highest-ranking hand wins but remember that with Short Deck poker, just about every player has a great hand.

11. Omaha Hi-Lo

Similar to the Omaha poker variant, Omaha Hi-Lo has the same basic rules however, when final hands are compared, the players holding the highest AND lowest-ranked hands split the pot. Aces can be counted as both the highest and lowest cards in a hand.

12. Razz

Razz is one of the types of poker that fit into the Stud category. Players are dealt seven cards with which to make the lowest value five-card hand. Played exactly the same as 7-card Stud, Razz rewards the lowest-ranked hand with the pot. Aces count as one.

13. Badugi

Badugi is a poker variant where four cards are dealt to each player face down. After betting, players may discard any or all cards and draw new ones from the dealer as many as three times. Similar to lo-ball poker, Badugi rewards the lowest-ranked hand with the pot.  

14. 2-7 Triple Draw

Triple Draw is another of the low ball types of poker that are played with five cards being dealt face down and no community cards. As the name states, players can discard and draw new cards from the dealer three times in an effort to create the best low hand.  Ace is always a high card in Triple Draw so the best hands hold cards between two and seven.  

15. Horse

Horse isn’t so much a variant of poker than a mixture of five popular types of poker played in sequence as a game. Each game is considered one round of Horse and that game’s rules apply until the round is completed. The order of sequence is:

  • H – Hold’em
  • O – Omaha Hi/Lo
  • R – Razz
  • S – Seven Card Stud
  • E – Eight or Better (Stud Hi/Lo) 

Which Poker Variation suits you the best?

With a veritable buffet of poker variations to choose from, it can be difficult to settle on the type of poker game that best suits your preferred tastes, skills and enjoyment levels.

What’s more, many players bounce around between variants to broaden their poker knowledge and keep their favourite game fresh. Variety is the spice of life and for those players with a big appetite for poker, HORSE is on the menu! 

Poker variants with the lowest house edge

The types of poker available to play at land-based or online casinos differ from traditional games in that the games are played against the casino, which means the casino commands a House Edge.

In simple terms, the house advantage (edge) is just that; a fractional advantage the casino has over the player in terms of winning over the long term.

The lower the House Edge, the better the player’s chances are to win a return on their bets. Knowing the House Edge of the popular casino poker variants is excellent knowledge for both beginner and experienced poker players alike.

Poker VariantHouse Edge
Caribbean Stud Poker5.22%
Pai Gow Poker 2.50%
Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em2.19%
Three Card poker1.50%
Video Poker0.46%

Poker variations that payout the most

The payout potential you can expect while playing Poker highly depends on the variant you’ve chosen. Some variants come with four or five betting rounds, building a decent enough pot. On the other side of the spectrum, certain variants are played only against the dealer and payouts depend on the winning hand.

Two games that build towards a substantial pot are Seven-Card Stud and Five-Card Stud. Of course, to win a nice tidy sum, betting needs to go well first.

Don’t dismiss Poker variants that are played against the dealer just yet. Variants like Texas Hold’em can pay handsomely for the strongest winning hands!

The best Poker variants to try when you’re new to casino

Remember that when joining a casino poker game players are playing against the House. For beginners, the best introduction to casino poker is through the most popular games currently on offer that are easy to learn and basic to understand. Suggested casino poker games for beginners include;

  • Video Poker

Playing video poker gives new players a chance to familiarize themselves with the hands, how they rank and straightforward betting options. Video poker is low cost, has the lowest House Edge of any casino poker game and is the most forgiving to new players just learning the game. 

  • Texas Hold ‘em

Anyone who plays poker knows how to play Texas Hold ‘em. It’s simple to learn, a blast to play and most players know someone who can start them off with some basic advice. Texas Hold ‘em games are also easy to practice at home with friends or online through free demo games offered by many casinos.

  • Three Card Poker

A fan favourite at the casino, this is one of the easiest poker variants to learn for beginners. Three Card Poker is played against the dealer, is straightforward and doesn’t require any strategy to speak of to win big. 

Types of Poker to play if you’re a Pro

  • Texas Hold ‘em

A thrilling game to play for novices and pros alike, Texas Hold ‘em is the most popular poker variant on the planet and draws the world’s best players. High-stakes tournaments with million-dollar antes are not unheard of and Texas Hold ‘em features in the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

  • 5-Card Omaha

Typically a ‘No pot limit’ game, 5-Card Omaha draws high-rollers and poker pros to the table with pots that can make or break fortunes. Played at the highest level, 5-Card Omaha forces players to use their best skill-sets and years of poker experience to win.

Poker variations you should avoid

When considering a game at the casino, some of the poker variants on offer can be riskier than others. A couple of types of poker have a high House Edge, making them less attractive in terms of winning opportunities. 

  • Caribbean Stud Poker

Designed for casino play, Caribbean Stud Poker (aka Casino Stud Poker) has a House Edge of 5.22%. This is one of the highest house advantages among table games in the casino and while fun to play, offers the least potential for good player returns.

  • Pai Gow Poker

Not recommended for the novice, Pai Gow is a poker variant that uses a normal card deck plus Jokers. Players are dealt seven cards to make up two hands and both hands must beat the dealer to win. Pai Gow poker also follows strict rules which if not followed can result in players paying penalties.