• Home
  • Poker Variations

Poker Variations

Texas Hold'em is far from being the only poker game format.

The poker variants are usually united by the same principle to determine the winner: the pot goes to the player with the strongest combination. As a rule, the combinations are identical, as is their classification. The difference usually lies in the number of hole cards, the availability of community cards, and the mandatory bets and their amount. In general, this topic is complex, although it is fascinating. We have a lot to cover in this article.

Differences in the game

All poker games can be divided between those that do not have “community cards,” such as the flop, turn, and river, and those with “community cards.” Also, according to the rules for betting:

  1. Limit bets, the rates of which are strictly fixed. This "deprives" the game of dynamics, which is why Limit Hold'em is not very popular today.
  2. No limit. The maximum bet is unrestricted; the player can go all-in on any street.
  3. Pot Limit. The maximum bet amount is not fixed, but the limit depends on the current pot amount.

Different bet formats may apply to the same type of game. For example, Texas Hold'em or Omaha can be played with limit (FLH, FLO) and Pot Limit (PLH, PLO). Then, it is crucial to know and understand the difference.

All poker formats and their rules

We have created our list of poker formats and their rules, following a principle of simplicity for everyone, regardless of the game's popularity.

For the sake of clarity, we have borrowed the five-star rating of the hotels. The higher the recognition and popularity of the game in poker rooms, and the more complex it is to learn its rules, the more stars this poker format will have.

Texas Hold'em

Poker Variations Holdem

Popularity: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨

No Limit Hold'em is a relatively simple and popular (classic) poker game. It can be played from 2 to 10 people. The winner of the hand will be the one who has the strongest combination or who forces his rivals to fold on any of the streets before the showdown.

Game and rules

  1. The hands start with the blinds and are played on four streets (preflop, flop, turn, and river).
  2. Each player can check, pay, raise, or fold.
  3. Five-card combinations are created with two private and five community cards. Your own cards may not be part of this combination.
  4. Once the last round of betting on the river is over, the remaining players reveal their cards (showdown), and the winner will be the one with the highest combination. In the event of a tie, the pot will be divided equally between the players.

If you want to master the game, we recommend reading the complete list of Texas Hold'em rules and familiarizing yourself with the strategy for beginners.

Advantages. The game's popularity allows you to find cash games Hold'em tables in any poker room at any limit. Likewise, tournaments with any buy-in.

Disadvantages. Ironically, popularity is both an advantage and a disadvantage of Hold'em. The fact that there is abundant information on the Internet about strategy and tactics, as well as poker schools, means that there are constantly evolving regulars, so it takes work for a beginner to start playing at their level.


Poker Variations Omaha

Popularity: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨 🪨

Pot Limit Omaha is the second most popular poker game. Its structure is similar to Hold'em, but the number of initial cards is the main difference.

Omaha rules

The dealer deals 4 initial cards and 5 community cards to the participants. Players must use the “2+3" formula to combine 2 initial cards and 3 community cards. This rule cannot be broken.

Just like in Hold'em, two players place blind bets before the hand starts, there are four rounds of betting, and the winner is the one who manages to get the strongest combination.

Advantages. Due to the greater number of cards, the probability of players having starting hands is stronger, which makes the game more dynamic.

Disadvantages. The main one is that you will find fewer games than Hold'em. Due to the higher variance, Omaha is incompatible with players susceptible to emotions. Any calculation will be much more complicated than in Texas Hold'em.

Every year, we celebrate the popularity of PLO, a poker format that must be addressed for a while now. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the rules of Omaha Hi-low, refresh your memory with the structure of the combinations, and read tips for beginners. Our team will provide you with all the information about poker rooms to play Omaha.

Omaha variants

All popular poker formats have their own variants. Omaha has 5 cards, 6 cards, and Omaha Hi-Lo.

  • 5-card Omaha. Players receive not 4, but 5 initial cards each. Only 2 own cards can be used for the combination.
  • 6-card Omaha. 6 hole cards and the old “2+3" formula (no exceptions)
  • Omaha Hi-Lo. 4 hole cards and 5 community cards, but not only the strongest combination wins, but also whoever has the 5-card weaker hand lower than 8.

Chinese Poker

Poker Variations Chinese Poker

Popularity: ⭐ ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨 🪨

There are not enough stars in the sky for Chinese poker (Open Face Chinese OFC). It's strange, though. This game is very different from other poker formats: intense and exciting. There are no community cards in OFC, and each player must arrange one main combination and three hands of different strengths each.

How to play Chinese poker?

  1. Chinese poker is played by 2 to 4 people.
  2. Each player has three squares for his hands – "back”, "middle“, and "front." The first one consists of three cards and the other two of five.
  3. The dealer deals 13 cards to the players in a couple of rounds.
  4. The task of each player is to arrange three combinations so that the back one is weaker than the middle one, and in turn, this one loses against the front one.
  5. There are no blinds in Chinese poker; players receive points for winning when comparing combinations, even between them.

What's so good about it? Chinese poker is perfect for fans of unexpected results. Luck plays a significant factor in OFC, which will always be encouraging for beginners.

What is not so attractive? Finding a room to play Chinese poker is challenging. The rules of the Chinese version are much more complicated than those of Hold'em, so it takes longer to master them.

Perhaps the only thing that unites Hold'em with OFC is the combinations. Otherwise, they are two different games, so to master this version of poker, you must study the complete list of Chinese poker rules and some tips for beginners.

Variants of Chinese poker

  • Turbo. The dealer deals 13 cards in 3 rounds.
  • Pineapple. The dealer deals 3 sides from the second round, and one must be discarded.
  • 2-7 Pineapple. The player must arrange the weakest combination in the middle.
  • Turbo Pineapple. The cards are dealt in 4 rounds of 4, and after the first round, the players must discard one card.
  • Large Pineapple. It is played 1x1, and each player has 4 squares and 18 cards (3-5-5-5).

6+ Hold'em

Poker Variations 6 Plus Holdem

Popularity: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨

Another name for Short Deck Poker. It is basically Texas Hold'em, but with some important changes. The main thing is that it is played with a smaller deck. That's 36 cards instead of 52.

Instead of blinds, in 6+ Hold'em, all players put an ante, and the button player puts the button ante. The minimum preflop raise is equal to twice the bet on the button. The betting rules and actions players can take are similar in Short Deck and Hold'em.

Advantages. It is a more active game that gives you strong hands more often. It is more dynamic, and the bets are more aggressive.

Disadvantages. Fewer cards can lead you to “unwanted" moves in 6+ Hold'em. Similarly, the math and strategy you use in Hold'em will not work in Short Deck.

Despite the many commonalities, you should take your time transitioning from the classic game to one with a short deck. First, read the complete 6+ Poker rules and find out how the ante works and the rules of combinations.

7-Card Stud

Poker Variations 7 Card Stud

Popularity: ⭐ ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨 🪨 🪨

Indeed, it may offend the old school that "Texas Hold'em” is considered a classic poker game. It all started long ago with Stud, the oldest card format. Stud is played with up to 8 people. There is no flop or turn, only seven streets, and you bet on five of them. Players prefer mandatory blind ante bets.


  1. The players receive two closed and one open of the three initial cards. The player with the lowest card must place the first mandatory bet.
  2. In the following two streets, the players receive an uncovered card.
  3. The player to the right of the one who made the first move is the one who acts.
  4. The seventh card is closed. The player with the strongest combination wins.

By the way, this is a quick version of the Stud rules. In the complete list, you will find the “bring-in" concept, learn the special rules for betting on 7-Card Stud, understand which hands are worth playing, and see where it is better to play this type of poker.

Types of Stud Poker

In addition to 7-Card Stud, this game has three other formats.

  • 7-Card Hi-Lo. A game with two potential winners with high and low combinations. At the same time, the player with the low hand must gather 5 cards without pairing them and with a face value of less than 8.
  • 5-Card Stud. It is played with a short deck from 7 to A. Players receive 5 cards each, 4 open and one closed.
  • Razz. Players receive 7 cards each, and they must get not the highest combination but the lowest one. The “8 or better” rule in 7-Card Stud does not apply.

Draw Games

5-card games have an exclusive feature. It is based solely on one's own cards. There are no community cards in Draw games, and your opponents have no clue about your hand.

Among the most popular variants of 5-Card Poker are 5-Card Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw, and Single Draw. Although the rules of these games may be somewhat different between casinos, poker rooms usually use the rules of the World Series (WSOP), where occasionally large tournaments are played in these disciplines.

5-Card Draw

Popularity: ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨

5-Card Draw is a simple and familiar game for many (from movies to TV series). The essence is to collect the strongest combination by making only one exchange of the initial cards.

  1. Up to 5 people can participate in this game, and the first two players put the big blind and the small blind after the button.
  2. The dealer distributes five cards to the players covered, after which a traditional betting round takes place.
  3. Then, the players have a single chance to change their cards with the dealer, from 1 to all 5.
    After the second round of betting, the players proceed to the showdown.

2-7 Single Draw or 2-7 Triple Draw

Popularity: ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨

Also known as lowball. In these draw games, the winner is the one who gets the lowest 5-card combination (low hand). Single Draw and Triple Draw differ in the number of card exchange rounds. In the first it is only one, in the second it is three.

  1. The players put the blinds and, in some cases, even an ante.
  2. The dealer deals 5 cards to each participant, all covered.
  3. The rules of 2-7 Single Draw allow two betting rounds and 1 exchange, and 2-7 Triple Draw has four betting rounds and 3 exchanges.

It is worth mentioning that unlike Omaha Hi-Lo, where the lowest combination is A-2-3-4-5 , there is no such combination in 2-7 Draw. The ace is a high card, and 2-3-4-5-6 is straight, with which you can lose. The Nuts in 2-7 Draw are 2-3-4-5-7 (hence the name of this poker format).

Advantages of Draw games. It is perhaps the easiest poker game to master. A lot of hands are played in 5-Card Draw.

Disadvantages. Since you can't see your opponents' cards and there are no community cards, you can only assume the strength of your opponent's hand by considering the bets and the amount of cards exchanged.


Popularity: ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨 🪨

We return to the four cards. It is also a game in which you must have a low hand to win.

The players place the blinds and receive four cards each. In Badugi, there are four betting rounds and three card exchange rounds. In this discipline, the value of the cards is reduced not only by their face value but also by their suit.

The rules of this game are simple and very similar to 2-7 Triple Draw. If you already know these older versions of the game, you will be able to master the Badugi quickly.

However, the game's unpopularity is due to its 4-card format, unique hand ranking system, and lack of opponent information.

Mixed Games

Popularity: ⭐

Difficulty: 🪨 🪨 🪨

At first glance, it might seem that this is the most challenging poker game because the rules combine different formats simultaneously. In fact, everything is different. Mixed games involve alternating different poker disciplines. Then, if you know the rules of all the poker games included in the Mixed

Games in the same way that you know Christmas carols, you will have no problems mastering this format.

The list of the most popular mixed games includes H.O.R.S.E and 8 games.


HORSE is not an independent poker format. It is a mixed game that alternates the format after a certain amount of hands are played.

In fact, H.O.R.S.E is a simple abbreviation in capital letters of five different poker formats: Hold'em, Omaha, Hi-Lo, Razz (Low Stud), Stud Hi, and Stud 8.

The HORSE became quite popular in 2006 when the discipline was included in the WSOP with a $50,000 tournament.


Unlike HORSE, this type of poker does not combine 5 but 8 disciplines with different limits. As a rule, the poker format changes every six hands.

A set of 8-Game Poker includes:

  1. 2-7 Triple Draw with fixed limit
  2. Fixed limit hold'em
  3. Omaha Hi-Lo with fixed limit
  4. Razz
  5. 7-Card Stud with fixed limit
  6. Hi-Lo Stud with fixed limit
  7. No Limit Hold'em
  8. Omaha Pot Limit

What's so great about mixed games? You will never get bored. Due to the permanent change of game, your brain will work non-stop. Constantly doing the same thing for sure will not work.

Disadvantages: HORSE or 8-Games require players to have a very high knowledge of the different rules of poker formats. Mixed poker is only for you if you perform well in at least one of these disciplines.

Which poker formats are best to start with?

As an old saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste. We will unlikely be able to give an unequivocal answer to this question. Of course, you should start by getting to know Texas Hold'em.

First, it's a classic that will never die. Secondly, most poker formats are based on the rules of Hold'em. Then, once you master this game, you will have the opportunity to improve in other disciplines.

However, it is your decision. We have told you a good variety of poker formats, from the very popular to the not-so-famous. Choose one, study the rules, practice, and find the ideal version of this game that allows you to play with winnings.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

✅ How many poker formats are there?
✅ How different is one poker game from another?
✅ What is the most popular poker variant?
✅ Which poker format is ideal for a beginner?
✅ What are the most profitable poker games?
✅ Which poker format is the most difficult?
✅ What is the easiest poker game?