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Top 10 Poker Games 2021

Poker is one of the most exciting games in the world - and there are countless variations to keep you entertained. Below we'll run you through the different poker games and how they work.

Our comprehensive guide to the top 10 types of poker will have you ready to play in a matter of minutes.

From Texas Hold'em to Chinese Poker, we cover everything you need to know about the most popular types of poker games.

We'll also look at lesser-known poker variants, like Razz, which are frequently included in mixed games such as HORSE or 8-game.

1

texas hold'em

They say Texas Hold'em takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master and it's true! Hold'em is by far the most popular poker game in the world and we're here to guide you through the basics of the game.

Texas Hold'em setup A typical Texas Hold'em table set up showing a game between eight players.

How to Play Texas Hold'em

Hold'em is easy once you know the basics. Let's go through a hand together to see exactly how it works:

  • The player to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the next player to the left is the big blind.
  • Each player is dealt two hole cards face-down and the first round of betting begins. Each player can look at their cards and call the big blind, raise, or fold.
  • The dealer places three community cards face-up in the middle of the table (The Flop), followed by another round of betting.
  • The dealer adds a fourth community card (The Turn) followed by more betting, and a fifth (The River) followed by the final round of betting.
  • Players still in show their hands. The winner is the best five card hand using any five of the seven available cards (two-hole cards and five community cards).

Texas Hold'em Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to learn and action-packed.
  • The most common game to play online and live.

Cons:

  • Some people find it too volatile.
  • The level of play is higher than other lesser-known games.

If you feel ready to play Texas Hold'em already, you can check out our list of the best online poker sites.

2

pot-limit omaha

Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) is a favorite of Europeans and high-stakes players because it has tons of action. In PLO poker, as it's also called, you get four-hole cards and can bet and raise equal to what's already in the pot.

Pot-Limit Omaha table With its four-hole card start, Pot-Limit Omaha offers players more ways to spice up your game.

How to Play Pot-Limit Omaha

Pot-Limit Omaha plays a lot like Hold'em but there are a few very important differences to be aware of. Let's go through basic PLO poker rules step by step

  • In PLO the blinds, community cards, and betting rounds are the same as Hold'em.
  • However, in PLO, you have four-hole cards and must use two of them along with three community cards to make the best five-card poker hand.

Pot-Limit Omaha Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Lots of action; with four cards you make way more hands.
  • The perfect way to spice things up for Hold’em players.

Cons:

  • Not the easiest poker game for beginners.
  • Calculating how much you can bet and raise can be tricky.

How to Calculate Pot Size for Bets and Raises in Pot-Limit Omaha

In PLO poker the maximum amount you can bet and raise, is what's in the pot plus your call of any outstanding bets. Calculating how much you can bet and raise can be tough even for experienced players. Follow our useful steps to make it easy.

  • First, multiply the last bet by three and then add any other remaining wagers and what was already in the pot.
  • For example: If there's $10 in the pot and you're facing a bet of $5 with one additional caller, the maximum you can raise to is $30 ($5 X 3 + $5 +$10 = $30).

PLO Poker vs No Limit Texas Hold'em Poker

If you're an experienced player coming from No Limit Hold'em (NLH) and transitioning to PLO poker, there are several things you should be aware of before you dip your toes into the exciting PLO waters:

  • High pairs in PLO are not the same as high pairs in NLH This comes down to hand equities being similar. AAxx vs any four cards is only a 65/35 favorite. Although a sizable favorite, it's nowhere similar to NLH where AA is an 85/15 favorite against any two cards.
  • Position is even more important In PLO poker it becomes right to play a lot of hands in position, even more so than in NLH due to similar preflop equities. Whenever you can go to the flop with 35%+ equity against an opponent and you have position and lots of money left behind for post flop, it's hard not to play your hand profitably.
  • High connected cards have more value than low connected cards Although equities are similar you need to be aware of a hand's post flop playability. While connected cards and suited cards add to your equity, what's really valuable are cards that make nut draws. A nut draw is when you don't have a made hand, yet you are drawing to the best possible hand. High cards make nut straight draws; high flush cards make big flushes.
  • Hand values are not the same This is simple - because you have four cards instead of two there's infinitely more hand combinations. In NLH, hands like two pair are strong hands - but in PLO two pair is usually a bluff catcher at best.
  • Preflop looseness In short-handed NLH, it's better to play a tight style of between 15 and 30% of hands depending on the game conditions, your opponents etc. In PLO poker, because of the similar preflop equities, you can profitably play a lot more hands, especially from late position.
3

seven-card stud

Rewind just a few decades and Seven-Card Stud was the most popular poker game in America but has since been surpassed by faster and more exciting variants.

If you've only played Hold'em, Seven-Card Stud will take some getting used to. There are no community cards and it's almost always played with fixed betting limits.

Seven-Card Stud setup A typical Seven-Card Stud setup with one card face up from the offset.

How to Play Seven-Card Stud

  • Each player pays an ante and receives three cards, two face-down and one face-up.
  • The player with the lowest face-up (door) card must "bring it in" or "complete". If the ante is $1, for example, the bring-in is usually $5 and it'll cost $10 to "complete".
  • The betting continues clockwise with each player getting the option to fold, call the bring in, or raise to $10.
  • After everyone has taken their turn, a fourth card is dealt face-up to each player. This is called fourth street.
  • Betting now begins with the player showing the highest-value hand with their up-cards and moves clockwise.
  • This pattern continues with face-up cards on fifth street and sixth street.
  • On seventh street everyone receives a card face-down.
  • Anyone still in the hand shows their cards and the best five-card poker hand wins.

Pros and Cons of Seven-Card Stud

Pros:

  • Easy to learn and a great way to get started if No-Limit Hold'em is intimidating.
  • Keeping track of folded cards can give you an edge.

Cons:

  • Some players find it too slow.
  • Can be challenging to keep track of everyone's hands.

Other Tips for Seven-Card Stud

  • Position is a big advantage in Seven-Card Stud - so use it.
  • Bluffing is difficult but can be done.
  • Seven-Card Stud involves lots of betting and poker strategy – so play cautiously.
4

razz

If you don't know how to play Seven Card Stud, check out the rules in the previous section, it'll to make learning Razz poker way easier. Razz poker is a lowball game which means the card and hand rankings are flipped upside down.

The goal in Razz poker is to make the "worst" possible hand according to traditional poker hand rankings. Which is why you will frequently find people at lower limits online trying to play Stud during some Razz rounds in HORSE and other mixed games.

Razz setup Like Seven-Card Stud, Razz begins with one card face up; albeit with different rules on who 'brings it in'.

How to Play Razz Poker

  • Aces are low in Razz and straights and flushes don't count. Therefore, the best possible Razz hand is a five-high (5-4-3-2-A).
  • Gameplay works the same as Seven Card Stud except for the player with the HIGHEST door card brings it in. Betting begins with the player showing the LOWEST traditional poker hand.
  • Gameplay works the same as Seven Card Stud except for the player with the HIGHEST door card brings it in. Also, on later streets betting begins with the player showing the LOWEST traditional poker hand (the best lowball hand).
  • Just like Stud, Razz poker is a limit game and follows the exact same betting patterns including antes, bring-in, completion, small bet and a big bet.
  • After the final round of betting on seventh street, the player with the lowest five-card poker hand wins.

Razz Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Like Stud, Razz offers a big edge to players who keep track of cards.
  • Easy to learn with a relaxed pace.

Cons:

  • Some people find Razz too slow.
  • There are limited live Razz games.

Razz Strategy

  • Be very picky with your starting hand selection – any starting hand with only cards in the wheel (ace through five) is very strong.
  • On the flop, if other players are showing higher cards that you aren't interested in, that's good. If they're showing cards that you know you want to draw, that's bad. If you see cards that match your own, that's especially important, because it means you're much less likely to get a pair.
  • Utilize your door card. If you have lowest showing door card and the action is folded to you, it is typically correct to raise, even if your hole cards are significantly weaker and taint your absolute hand strength.
5

omaha hi-lo

If you've never played a Hi-Lo poker variation before you're in for a treat. In this kind of game, the pot is split between the highest hand and the lowest hand.

Once you've learned Pot-Limit Omaha, understanding Omaha Hi-Lo is really easy. Omaha Hi-Lo uses blinds, each player gets four cards and there are four betting rounds with a flop, turn, and river. At the end of the hand, the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand.

Omaha Hi-Low setup Omaha Hi-Low offers a complex strategic approach for advanced poker players.

How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo

  • Each player makes two separate hands, each using exactly two of their hole cards and three of the board cards (one high hand and one low hand).
  • If you have both the best high hand and the best low hand you get the entire pot which is called "scooping".
  • Omaha Hi-Lo uses fixed betting limits.

Omaha Hi-Lo Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Average level of play is low, you can get a big edge with minimal practice.
  • Offers complex strategy for thinking players who like working on their game.

Cons:

  • Can be confusing for poker beginners.
  • Limited live games available.
6

2-7 triple draw

Now that you've learned games that use low hands like Razz and Omaha Hi-Lo, it's time to unveil another excellent lowball game. 2-7 Triple Draw is a limit game that uses blinds but no community cards. It's straightforward once you know the basics.

2-7 Triple Draw table setup 2-7 Triple Draw offers players a fun way to bluff and use mind games on their way to victory.

How to Play 2-7 Triple Draw

  • The object of the game is to make the best possible five-card low hand.
  • Aces are high and straights and flushes DO count. Therefore, the best hand is an unsuited 2-3-4-5-7.
  • 2-7 Triple Draw uses a dealer button and blinds just like Hold'em.
  • Each player is dealt five cards and betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind.
  • After the betting rounds, each player can draw up to five new cards.
  • There are four betting rounds and three draws. Triple Draw is played with fixed betting limits.
  • After the final betting round players still in must show down their cards to see who wins.

2-7 Triple Draw Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • If you like bluffing and mind games, you'll love 2-7.
  • Lowball games are a fun way to spice things up.

Cons:

  • Live games are limited.
7

five-card draw

Back in the day, the first poker game you played wasn't Texas Hold'em, it was Five-Card Draw. Kids played with pennies and guessed the rules, but for adults, this game still has its charms all these years later. Five-Card Draw uses a dealer button and blinds, just like Hold'em.

Five-Card Draw setup Five-Card Draw is the older brother of Texas Hold'em and still has all its charms.

How to Play Five-Card Draw

  • Each player is dealt five cards and there's a round of betting starting with the player to the left of the big blind.
  • After betting, each player can replace a number of their card, followed by another round of betting.
  • Anyone still in must shows their cards, the best five-card high poker hand wins the pot.

Five Card Draw Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great if you love bluffing and calling bluffs.
  • A big edge possible with just a little bit of strategy study.

Cons:

  • Live games are scarce, but there are loads online.
8

chinese poker

Chinese poker is a special entry on the list and if you've never played it before it's going to take some getting used to. It's a lot different to normal poker but it's so much fun that it's worth the effort to learn.

Chinese poker table Played with four players, Chinese poker is easy to play and actioned-packed.

How to Play Chinese Poker

  • Chinese poker is played with four players.
  • Each player is dealt 13 cards and must arrange them into three different poker hands.
    • The front hand, or top hand, is made up of three cards and must be the lowest-ranking poker hand of the three.
    • The middle hand is made up of five cards and must be a higher-ranking hand than the top hand.
    • The bottom hand is also made up of five cards and must be the highest-ranking hand of the three.
  • Each player scores each hand against the corresponding hand of each other player.
  • Players agree on a dollar value per point before the game. You win one point for each hand you win against each player.

Chinese Poker Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to play with tons of action.

Cons:

  • Scoring can be confusing for beginners.
9

horse

If you love non-Hold'em games, you'll love HORSE. The game's name is an acronym that contains five different poker variations.

HORSE poker setup HORSE contains five different poker types and can be great fun.

How to Play HORSE

  • When you sit down at a HORSE table, live or online, you'll see a plaque face-up on the felt that tells you what game is being played.
  • The games in HORSE are:
    • Hold'em
    • Omaha Hi-Lo
    • Razz
    • Seven Card Stud
    • Seven Card Stud Eight or Better (Hi-Lo)
  • Each game is played for one orbit, with fixed bet limits before moving to the next in order.

HORSE Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Awesome selection of non-Hold'em fixed limit games.
  • Most players aren't strong in all games so you can get an edge playing solid strategy.

Cons:

  • Not the best choice for beginners.
10

badugi

Badugi is another special game you're not going to run into at most home games or casinos and it uses a completely different hand ranking system than you're used to. Badugi is essentially a lowball game but it has some special features that set it apart from other poker variations.

Badugi table setup Badugi starts with four cards and relies on bluffing and aggression.

How to Play Badugi

  • Each player gets four cards dealt face-down.
  • Betting begins to the left of the dealer and moves clockwise.
  • After betting, players can replace any cards for new ones.
  • There are a total of three draws followed by a final betting round. Anyone still in the hand must show down their cards to see who wins.
  • The goal is to make the lowest unsuited, unpaired hand.
  • Aces are low so the best possible hand is Ace-2-3-4 of all different suits.

HORSE Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Awesome selection of non-Hold'em fixed limit games.
  • Most players aren't strong in all games so you can get an edge playing solid strategy.

Cons:

  • Not the best choice for beginners.

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