Discover Your Favourite Poker Variation
By Zac Ormley
You thought online poker was all Texas Hold'em, right? Wrong. In 2021 you can play all kinds of poker variants, and at a range of betting limits too.
No Limit Hold'em is still far and away the most popular form of online poker. However, mixed games like HORSE are introducing UK players to new variants and ways to bet.
Let's take a look at some of the types of poker you'll find at online sites today.
Know Your Poker Limits
If you've come to poker via No Limit Hold'em, you're probably used to that betting system. But in some live cardrooms in the UK, and most online ones, you'll find games in Limit, Fixed Limit and Pot Limit.
'No Limit' works exactly how it sounds: there is no limit to the amount of the raise in a hand. Equally, players with insufficient funds to call cannot be priced out of a hand. If they want to call they can move all-in and anything extra goes into a side pot.
Pot Limit is most commonly associated with Omaha, and certainly in some Hold'em cash games. A Pot Limit bet is a raise consisting of a call and the total amount in the pot. Players can't exceed this amount in a round of betting.
Some tournaments, and a lot of online cash games, are played Fixed Limit or Limit. It's not too common at UK casinos but you'll find this betting in the US and online.
In Limit games, raises are restricted compared to the bet size. For example, in a game of £3/6 Limit Hold'em cash, the blinds are £1.50/£3.00. A bet has to be £3.00 (the small bet), while a maximum raise would be £6.00. A re-raise would go to £9.00 (£3 + £6).
When play gets to the turn, the 'big bet' comes into play, here £6. So, a bet on the turn could be £6 and a raise £12.
Fixed Limit is similar but features a strict number of raises before the bets are capped. Once the cap is reached, only a Call or Fold are allowed until the next card appears.
Popular Poker Variations
What's That: Still the most popular variant of poker online and featured in the World Series of Poker and the biggest cash games and tournaments.
How to Play
Hold'em is a community board game where every player is dealt two face-down cards. These are their hole cards. They then have to form the best 5-card poker hand with ANY of their hole cards and five community cards dealt on the board. Standard hand rankings are in play, starting with high card, and going up to a Royal Flush.
Enforced bets called blinds get the action moving, and these go up as the tournament progresses. Cash game blinds tend to remain static as you play.
What's That: A popular form of Hold'em typically played in cash games.
How to Play
Omaha is similar to Texas Hold'em in that five community cards are shared by the players. However, instead of two hole cards, players are dealt four. When it comes to forming a 5-card poker hand, players MUST use two of their hole cards (a major difference with Texas Hold'em).
Omaha is popular as a cash game in casinos and on online sites due to its volatile nature. Betting is usually Pot Limit.
Hi-Lo: While Omaha rewards the highest hand, Omaha Hi-Lo has two potential pots: one for the highest hand, and one for the lowest qualifying hand. A qualifying low features a five-card hand with non-sequential numbers all below 8.
What's That: A classic from the old days of poker which features both up and down cards.
How to Play
In Stud, players are dealt cards face-down and cards face-up. A final card face down completes their 'hand'. Betting takes place in between streets and the highest five-card poker hand wins.
Instead of blinds, like in Hold'em, Stud players pay antes to get the betting moving. The betting is kicked off by the player with the highest 'up card' showing.
5-Card Stud: In 5-card Stud, players are dealt one hole card each and one up-card. After rounds of betting, up-cards are dealt to each player (there are no community cards in this game). The final card is dealt face down.
7-Card Stud: In 7-card Stud, players are dealt two cards face down to start with, and one up-card. Cards are dealt out as usual, with the final card face down.
Stud is typically played Limit, and forms the 'S' of HORSE (see below).
What's That: A variant of Stud, played with the lowest hand possible.
How to Play
Razz is played like 7-card Stud, with two down cards and one up-card kicking things off. Bets continue to a showdown, but the aim is to have the worst, or lowest, 5-card hand. The best hand in Razz is the 'Wheel', or the straight of A-2-3-4-5.
Razz is typically played Limit, and forms the 'R' in a round of HORSE (see below).
What's That: A mixed game featuring five different poker variants.
How to Play
HORSE consists of five poker games (Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better). Games are usually played Limit or Pot Limit/Limit with a full rotation of the table taken between disciplines.
HORSE is played more and more online, even at low-stakes. For added sickness, you can add other games like 2-7 Triple Draw and No Limit Hold'em to make 8-Game Mix.
What's That: Draw games are played by discarding and drawing cards to form better hands.
How to Play
5-card Draw: While 5-card Draw was the choice of Wild West gunmen two hundred years ago, the game is making a comeback online.
The game is played with five cards, with players making a single draw of cards in-between rounds of betting.
2-7 Single Draw: 2-7 is like Razz in that players have to make the worst, or lowest, 5-card hand after a draw of cards and bet.
2-7 Triple Draw: Similar to 2-7 Draw, players get to swap cards three times before showdown. For added effect the betting is often No Limit, making the game popular with gamblers.
Badugi: Gaining popularity online, Badugi is another draw game played lowball (the lowest hand wins). Players are dealt four cards and the aim is to draw cards once (or 'stand pat') and make the lowest four-card hand possible. Suits come into play, and the idea is to hit the best four-card hand, made up of different suits and unpaired low cards.