Must-Know Variations of Poker

No-Limit Texas Hold’em is the gateway game for most poker players these days. Venture out of your comfort zone and learn some of these other very popular variants, and learn how much fun you can have with all different forms of poker.

How It All Started: Draw Poker Games

This is the one form of poker almost all of us ‘experienced players, aka older folks’ learned to play while growing up. You get dealt five cards in your hand followed by a round of betting, and then you get to draw twice with rounds of betting following each time. There are no community cards in standard five-card draw poker like there are in Texas Hold’em or Omaha, but you're still trying to make the same best five-card hand like those games.

The same rules of betting position and hand rankings that apply to most forms of poker come from this version of the game. A royal flush is the best possible hand, and the active player that is closest to the left of the dealer initiates the action on every betting round. 

The similarities of Texas Hold’em and Omaha to this form of poker so many people learned as kids around a kitchen table with their family, or on a camping trip or sleepover with their friends, is the reason for their eternal popularity.

Texas Hold’em

The most popular form of poker in any card room in America and around the world, whether at a cash game table or tournament. In Texas Hold’em you’re dealt two hole cards, and over the course of four rounds of better there are five community cards dealt on the table.

The same hand rankings and betting position order as five-card draw poker from your childhood are adhered to throughout the hand. Any player at the table can use the community cards with a combination of two, or just one of the cards that they’re holding to make the best five-card poker hand.

The amount a player can bet on any given round fluctuates based on the type of Hold’em game you’re seated at and the betting limits. In Limit Hold’em, the amount players can raise is capped for any given bet, and the amount of times a player can bet per round is limited to four. In Pot-Limit Hold’em any player can bet the pot at any time on any round. The most popular form of this game, particularly for tournaments, is No-Limit Hold’em. In the version you have most likely watched on television, any player can bet all of their chips whenever they want.


Omaha builds on Texas Hold’em by introducing four hole cards you’re dealt face-down at the beginning of the hand. The same five community cards are dealt on the table accompanied by the same four rounds of betting preflop, and after the flop, turn, and river. The main difference besides all the different combinations now available with four hole cards is that you must play exactly two cards from your hand with three community cards on the board.

Omaha also is available in different betting limits, but pot-limit is by far the most popular for this form of the game. Another wrinkle available with Omaha is that it can also be played as a hi-lo game. That means that it’s a split-pot game where you’re trying to win either (or both) the normal high-card hand like you would in regular Omaha, as well as a low hand where all the cards have to be ranked eight or lower. 

Aces can play either high or low in this form of Omaha, and straights or flushes aren’t held against you if you’re going for the low hand, so 5-4-3-2-A is the nuts in Omaha hi-lo if you want to win the lesser hand’s half of the pot. You can also scoop both the high and low hands in this version of the game, just so long as you use two of your hole cards along with three of the community cards to win either side of the hand. 

Seven-Card Stud

This used to be one of the most popular forms of poker before the Texas Hold’em poker boom in the mid-2,000’s. Each player receives seven cards during the course of a Seven-Card Stud hand, with three of them face-down and the other four exposed for the rest of the table to observe. Please note that there are no community cards in Stud, but the same poker hand rankings win the hand, and the same betting order as other forms of poker persist.

One of the other big differences in Stud is that there are five rounds of betting, and instead of blinds there are antes and bring-in bets to start the betting action in any given pot. Every player at the table will post an ante, no matter their position in the betting order. Every player is then dealt the first three cards (two face-down, and one exposed). The player with the lowest-ranking exposed or “door” card has the option to post a bring-in bet for half the current small betting limit, or they can complete the bet for double the money.

The other players at the table can then call or raise accordingly based on the betting limits of that Stud round. The betting then continues after the fourth through seventh cards are dealt in subsequent rounds. Stud can also be played as a hi-lo variant similar to Omaha that is very popular in mixed games. 

2-7 Triple Draw

Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw brings things full circle back to the draw poker games that most people learned the game playing. 

It’s the same as draw poker in terms of receiving five cards face-down followed by rounds of betting to determine a winner, but the main difference is the hand rankings. You’re trying to make the lowest possible hand, period. 

Aces can’t play low, and straight or flushes work against you. So the best hand in 2-7 Triple Draw is 7-5-4-3-2 with no flush. Ironically enough, in this form of poker a royal flush is the worst possible hand you can hold. 

PLayers choose the cards they want to hold on to, and discard the ones they dislike. This creates additional rounds of betting, three of them, thus the name triple draw.

Triple Draw is played as a limit game, while 2-7 Single Draw - where you only discard once - is typically played as no-limit.