Poker Games

Here we look at all the different poker games you can play at online poker rooms.

Rules For All Poker Games

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Poker Games Overview

Many of the online poker rooms offer a varied selection of poker games – focusing on the most popular, but offering visitors to their sites a chance to try their hands at something different.  The games fall into two categories – Flop and Draw – and here we give a brief overview of the poker games available and the distinctions between them.

First it is important to understand the three different betting structures used in poker games

  • Flop Limit – where the size of the bets and raises that players make are limited to only the size of the “Blinds”.
  • Pot Limit – where bets can be in any multiple of the flop limit up to the maximum amount of chips currently in the pot.
  • No Limit – where the only limitation to the size of a bet is the number of chips a player has in front of them.

Some games will be played only as “Flop Limit” bets (with “Blinds” being the forced bets at the beginning of a game to ensure that there is something to win in the pot), others can be played in several varieties of betting structures – sometimes combining two or more in the same game.

Flop Games

Flop poker games are distinguished by the inclusion of community cards, which each player uses to make their best hand together with the ones they are dealt face down.

Texas Hold’em Poker
The most common forms of playing Texas Hold´em Poker is either in a “ring game”, where players take it turns to be the dealer, the basic stakes (or “blinds”) never increase, and tables are comprised of 6 (short-handed) or 9 (sometimes 10) players, or as part of a tournament – with increasing blinds until such time as there is an ultimate winner. Tournaments can comprise of a single table of six players right up to large scale “multi-table” tournaments, for which the current world record for the largest number of entrants is 149.176.

The basics of Texas Hold´em poker are that players are dealt two private (“hole”) cards and there are five community cards dealt over three rounds of betting. The players have to create the best five card hand from the seven cards they have available, with the highest ranking card combination scooping the pot.

Omaha Poker
Omaha differs from Texas Hold´em inasmuch as each player is dealt four hole cards rather than two. The best hand is comprised by combining two of the players hole cards and three of the community cards and, although there is less flexibility in the way that a hand can be constructed (for example in Hold´em you can use one of your hole cards and four from the community cards), the choices available from having the option of four hole cards frequently lead to much higher ranking hands winning the pot. The order of betting and hand ranking is the same as in Texas Hold´em, however this game is more frequently played “Pot Limit” whereas the most popular version of Texas Hold´em is “No Limit”.

Omaha Hi/Lo Poker
Omaha Hi/Lo introduces the possibility of dividing the pot between two winning hands. The first as in Omaha Poker, and the second a low hand comprising of five cards (two from the player´s hole cards and three from the community cards) which each have a unique value of 8 or lower. The cards need not be consecutive and Ace counts as both high and low in this version of the game.

If there is no low hand at the end of the betting the full pot goes to the player with the highest ranking hand, however the highest ranking hand can also be a low hand (for example A2345) in which case the player would win both the high and the low pots.

Draw Games

There are two types of draw games commonly played in online poker rooms. Those where all the player´s cards are kept private, and he may make one or more changes during the betting exchanges, and those where selected cards in the players hands are dealt face up. Although these “open” cards can be seen by all the players, only the person to whom they are dealt can construct a hand from them. Draw games are usually played Flop Limit, unless indicated otherwise.

7 Card Stud Poker
7 Card Stud Poker is the most popular draw poker game. It follows the traditional hand ranking order, and is played where each player pays an ante into the pot before any cards are dealt, and then two cards are dealt face down, which only the player can see,  plus one open card. The player with the lowest ranking opens the betting with either a “buy-in” or a forced bet. The betting then revolves around the table, with each player calling the initial “buy-in”/bet, raising or folding. Once the first round of betting is completed, a further card is dealt face up to the players remaining in the hand, and there is another round of betting.

This pattern continues until a total of seven cards have been dealt to each player – the last being dealt face down – and a showdown is reached, at which point the player with the best hand scoops the pot.

7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Poker
This is a variation of the above game, except that there is also the possibility to win an additional low hand. The format of card distribution and betting is as before, however, should a player be able to make any combination of cards from Ace (low) to Eight, including flushes and straights, they will win half the pot.

If there is no low hand at the end of the betting the full pot goes to the player with the highest ranking hand, however the highest ranking hand can also be a low hand (for example A2345) in which case the player would win both the high and the low pots.

Razz Poker
Razz is a game where the winner is the player who has the lowest hand after seven cards have been dealt. This game follows the a slight variation of the hand ranking system used for most poker games with ace being low, and flushes and straights being ignored for the purpose of determining who has the lowest selection of cards. Therefore, the best hand to have is A2345 irrespective of whether they are suited or not.

Razz follows a betting pattern similar to Stud Poker, where each player pays an “ante” before the game starts. The player with the highest card commences the betting with a “bring-in” or a forced bet and there are four subsequent rounds of betting until the winner is determined at “showdown”.

5 Card Draw Poker
5 Card Draw is played with blinds, in the same way as Texas Hold´em, and after the blinds have been paid, each player is dealt five hidden hole cards. The first player seated to the left of the big blind has the option to call, raise or fold, and the action continues around the table until the betting is complete. Thereafter, each player can select a number of cards from his hand that he wants to discard, and have them replaced with new cards dealt from the pack.

There is one further round of betting, and then the winner is determined by who holds the best hand.

Badugi Poker
Badugi is a fascinating game, where the object is to make a four card low hand, with each card being of a different suit. It is started by two players paying blinds into the pot and then each player being dealt four (hidden) cards each. A round of betting takes place, where each player has the option to call, raise or fold. Then there are a maximum of three changes of cards – each followed by further round of betting until showdown is reached.

Should no player manage a “Badugi” (hand containing cards of four separate suits) the lowest three card hand after eliminating the highest double suited card (or a second card of the same rank value), wins the pot and so on.

2-7 Draw Poker
2-7 Draw Poker is also known as “Lowball” as the winning hand is the one which forms the lowest 5 card hand. Ace is high, and straights and flushes count, so the best possible hand to be dealt would be 23457. The game is played with blinds paid into the pot by the two players to the left of the dealer, and five cards being dealt face down to each player. A round of betting follows, during which each player has the option of calling the blinds, raising them or folding. After the round is complete, players are allowed to change up to four of their cards in the hope that they make a better hand, and there is another round of betting, followed by showdown, when the player with the lowest non-connected hand will win the pot.

There is also a version of the game known as “Triple Draw” where there are three changes of cards permitted, each followed by a further round of betting. The amount of blinds and betting styles vary between the two games. “Single Draw” is most frequently played No Limit, whereas “Triple Draw” is played Flop Limit.

Mixed Poker Games
Mixed poker games consist of a pre-determined selection of the above games. Some may consist of three of the above games, others may have as many as eight different poker games included in them.

When played as a ring game, mixed poker games are normally short-handed (ie 6 player) and the game changes with each rotation of the button – therefore after six hands of each game have been played. In tournaments, there will usually be a time limit set on the duration of each variant – ie 10 minutes – after which time the game will change format to the next on the rota.