Some of us remember a simpler time, when poker just meant games of five-card draw with your grandparents, using penny candy instead of chips. But the game has developed over the years, and many online poker sites now offer all kinds of variations, from the simple to the complex. Here is a handy guide, so next time one of your buddies brags about the game he was playing last week you can surprise him with your extensive knowledge.
Texas Hold'em is the most recognizable version of poker in 2017, helped no doubt by its use in the World Series of Poker Main Event. It's simple enough: each player gets two hole cards dealt face-down and uses those - along with five face-up 'community' cards available to everyone in the hand. The first three community cards are called the flop, the fourth is the turn and the fifth the river. There are betting rounds before the flop, turn and river and after the river has been dealt - and the winning player is the one with the best five-card hand after the final round of betting, using one or two of their hole cards and three or four community cards.
With Omaha, you get four cards instead of the two in Texas Hold'em, but you have to use exactly two of those four along with three of the community cards. The betting rounds are the same as in Texas Hold'em, but the best starting hands in Texas Hold'em - such as a pocket kings or pocket aces - are not as strong a favorite in Omaha. Most online poker rooms and live poker tours offer Pot Limit Omaha cash games and tournaments, where players are not allowed to bet more than the amount already in the pot.
Before the poker boom in the early 21st-century, seven-card stud was actually a more popular game than Texas Hold'Em. Each hand starts with players being dealt two cards face-down and one face-up, and betting starts with the player who has the lowest face-up card. There is a round of betting after each card dealt, with the fourth, fifth and sixth cards dealt face up and the seventh face-down. As with Texas Hold'em, the aim is to end with the best five-card hand, however there are no community cards dealt in stud. Six-card and five-card versions are also played, but less frequently.
Razz, like stud, sees players dealt seven cards each, with the first two and the seventh all dealt face down. However Razz is a lowball poker game, which means the lowest hand wins - you want to avoid hitting a pair, and the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5 (a 'wheel'). The World Series of Poker holds a Razz bracelet event, and past winners include Phil Hellmuth.
Five-card draw is one of the simplest versions of poker, but tends to be played more for fun than in a competitive environment. Each player begins by being dealt five cards face-down, and have the opportunity to 'draw' cards from the deck, putting one or more of their cards at the bottom of the deck and replacing them with the same number from the top. There are betting rounds before and after the draw, with the best five-card hand winning at showdown.
Also known as 'Omaha/8', this variant is similar to Omaha in the sense that each player starts with four cards and can use two of them as well as three community cards. However the pot is split between the best 'high' hand and the best 'low' hand. Players aim to get the best low hand, 8-7-6-5-4 or lower, as well as the best high hand, using any two of their four cards for each. This poker variant leads to a lot of split pots, but one player can win the whole pot (also known as 'scooping') if they have the best high and low hands, or if they have the best high hand and there is no possible low hand on the board.
2-7 Triple Draw, sometimes just called 'deuce-to-seven', is a lowball game where players are dealt five cards and have three opportunities to draw cards in the same manner as five-card draw. Aces are high in this variation of poker, meaning the best possible hand is 7-5-4-3-2, also known as 'Number One' as it cannot be beaten.
HORSE is a mixed-game, cycling between five different variations of poker. Often the variation will change after each orbit, and each letter of HORSE equates to a different variant. The H is Texas Hold'em, O is Omaha Hi-Lo, R is Razz, S is Seven-Card Stud, and E is Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better (also known as Stud Hi-Lo), a version of stud where players have to make high and low hands like in Omaha Hi-Lo. All five variations in HORSE are limit rather than no-limit or pot-limit, which means players can only make a predetermined size of bet.
Irish Poker is relatively simple to play, and is starting to appear in online poker rooms. Players start a hand with four hole-cards, however after the flop is dealt they have to discard two of the four and play the remainder of the hand like a regular Texas Hold'em hand.
Badugi is a variation of draw poker, but it differs to five-card draw in that each player is dealt only four cards, and the lowest hand wins. There are usually three betting rounds in a hand of Badugi, and players need to try to avoid having more than one card of the same suit, as well as trying to avoid hitting a pair. Aces are low, so the best hand is A-2-3-4 of four different suits. If a player has more than one card of the same suit or the same value then it is discarded, leaving them with a three-card hand.