Poker Variations

Top variants cards

If you're like the majority of poker players who came to the game via Texas Hold'em, you might be interested to find out about other popular variations.

We've included the 'Cadillac of Poker', of course, but at most online sites today you'll find plenty of action in the lesser-known mixed games and classic old-school favorites.

Let's take a closer look at some of interesting variants you'll find at the biggest online rooms.

Texas Hold'em

Why Texas Hold'em is great:

  • Easy to learn and beat at low levels
  • Available at all online poker sites
  • Large guaranteed prizepools

How to Play

Easily the most popular version of poker, and the easiest to learn, Texas Hold'em is played by everyone and is available everywhere.

Every player is dealt two hole cards which only they can see. A round of betting then takes place before three community cards are dealt face up on the table. Further rounds of betting follow, as well as a fourth community card (the Turn) and a fifth (the River).

The aim is to have the best five-card poker hand at showdown, consisting of any cards from your own two and the five community cards. Hands can also be tied, in which case the pot is split.

Betting is usually No Limit in tournaments, but Limit and Pot Limit games can also be played in cash games online.

Why Omaha is great:

Top variants - Omaha
  • Good for cash game action
  • Plays Pot Limit or No Limit
  • Lots of poor players still

How to Play

Omaha is a Hold'em game with four cards instead of two dealt to each player. The aim is to use two of your hole cards (and it MUST be two) as well as three of the community cards to form the best five-card hand.

While Omaha tournaments are common, Omaha is more usually played as a cash game. In addition, the betting is Pot Limit, meaning that you can only raise as much as in the pot at any time (including what you put in to complete the bet). This makes it a perfect variant for cash game players.

Omaha can be played Hi (the best hand wins) or Hi-Lo, where the pot is split between the best five-card hand and the lowest qualifying hand (if any).


Why you should play Stud:

  • An old-school favorite
  • Forms one of the games in HORSE
  • Helps with your Razz and Stud 8 skills

How to Play

Stud is one of the original backroom poker games and was included in the World Series of Poker schedule from its earliest days.

The game is played 5-card and 7-card, but 7-card Stud is a good place to start as it's featured as a round in HORSE.

In 7-card Stud, players are dealt two cards each face down and one card face up. Three further 'up cards' dealt to each player with betting rounds inbetween. A final, seventh, card is dealt to each player face down.

Players pay antes before playing, and the lowest up card kicks off the action. As in Hold'em, the best five-card poker hand at showdown takes the pot.


Why you should play Razz:

Top Variants - Razz
  • Great lowball variant
  • One of the games in HORSE
  • Not mastered by the fish online

How to Play

If you know Stud, Razz is the opposite. Essentially, it's a lowball variant in that you have to get the WORST, or lowest five-card poker hand from your own seven cards. For example, the hand A-2-3-4-5 is the best in Razz.

Usually played Limit, as is Stud, it forms the 'R' round in HORSE. You can usually find low-stakes cash games online, as well as a small range of tournaments. Most Hold'em players haven't properly adapted to Razz, so as long as you master a few basics you can do pretty well online.

2-7 Draw

Find great 2-7 Draw games:

  • Fun lowball poker variant
  • More live 2-7 tournaments appearing
  • Play single or triple draw

How to Play

Draw games like 5-card Draw have been played since the early days of saloons and riverboats, but 2-7 is gaining ground in big live tournaments and online sites.

Played single or triple-draw, 2-7 is a 'lowball' variant where the aim is to get the worst, or lowest, five-card poker hand possible. Players are dealt five cards, and then exchange cards in between rounds of betting. Players do have the option of 'standing pat' and not drawing any new cards.

Unlike Razz or Omaha Hi-Lo, aces count high, so a hand like 7-5-4-3-2 is a premium hand. Note that making a straight counts against you, so something like 7-6-5-4-3 is not a hand you want to aim for.


Why HORSE can be good for your bankroll:

Top Variants - Horse
  • Test your all-round skills
  • Lots of HORSE tournaments online
  • Fun for low-stakes cash games

How to Play

HORSE is the true test of a poker player. The game features five poker variations, with an orbit of each: Pot Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Limit Razz, Limit Stud, Limit Stud Eight-or-Better. Sites vary, but most of the time the variants are played Limit or Pot Limit.

What you normally find with HORSE is that plenty of Texas Hold'em players dive in and crush the Hold'em round, only to be left floundering when it comes to the other variants. As long as you have a few basic skills at the less-known games, there's certainly money to be won.

HORSE is featured in the WSOP, with most of the variants forming the $50,000 Players Championship, but you can find modestly-priced HORSE tournaments at the bigger poker sites. Find a low buy-in and try your luck.