Popular Poker Variants and the Difference between Them

Many people think of "Poker" as a single type of game, with a standard, unchanging set of rules. However, Poker is a lot more than that. There are dozens of variants and sub-variants of Poker, each of which offers something a little different.Some variants have different card and hand rankings. Some deal more cards, others fewer. Some have open cards, while others don't. However, no matter what variant of Poker you're playing, they can generally fall into one of three overarching types: Community Card Poker, Draw Poker, or Stud Poker.Here we will explain these different types of poker so that you can set about finding the best game for you.

Community Card Poker

Community Card Poker games are those that have cards placed in the centre of the table. The reason it is called Community Card Poker is that these cards are then combined with the cards each player has been individually dealt to create a hand.

The cards placed in the centre of the table are called "community cards", and you can use them, as well as the cards you've been dealt (hole cards), to create the best hand possible.

Texas Hold'Em

Texas Hold'em is the king of all Poker games. This is the type of Poker that has the most players and the biggest prize pools. It is the game that top-level professionals like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey play the most. Therefore, if you see professional Poker being broadcasted on TV, odds are that this is what you're watching.

When playing Texas Hold'em, you're dealt 2 hole cards and up to 5 community cards.

Then, you have the first round of betting, which is done without any community cards having been revealed, called the "Preflop", which is then followed by the "Flop" round of betting where 3 community cards are revealed. Then, you have two more betting rounds called the "Turn" and the "River" that reveal 1 more community card each.

Hold'em is often played in the "No Limit" format, where players can bet however much they can bet. However, limited pot versions are also commonly played.

Omaha Hold'Em

Omaha differentiates itself from Hold'em by drawing 4 hole cards, instead of 2. This results in much better hands on average than Hold'em.

Omaha shares the same betting round rules as Hold'em, but is generally played with pot limits and called Pot-limit Omaha (PLO).

Draw Poker

There are no community cards here. Instead, each player is dealt a full (hidden) hand and can improve it by trading cards they've been dealt with different ones from the deck to change their hand.

Five-Card Draw

The biggest kid in the block in mid-20th century before Texas Hold'em took over, Five-Card Draw has you draw five cards, as the name implies, and has one round of betting.

After the first round of betting, each player can discard any number of cards in their hand to draw an equal amount, in an attempt to improve their hand.

Five-Card Draw has two further variants: Single Draw and Triple Draw.

In Single Draw, you can only trade cards from your hand once. After trading cards, there is a second betting phase, and then players reveal their hands.

Triple Draw, however, has more betting rounds. After the first 3 betting rounds, you can trade your cards, and then there's a 4th, final, betting round before cards are revealed.


In this Poker variant, you are dealt 4 face-down cards, followed by a betting round called the "pre-draw". In the next betting round, players can trade cards in their hands, just as they can in a Five-Card Draw game.

After the pre-draw betting round, you have four more betting rounds, being able to trade your cards on each round. In the final round, you are dealt your final, fifth, card to complete your hand. Because of this, Badugi can be considered a form of Triple Draw Poker.

Pretty similar to a five-card draw game, right?

But there's a twist...

The hand rankings are inverted.

The lower your hand, the stronger it is. As such, Badugi's strongest hand is A234. Furthermore, hands that have different suits are stronger than hands with more similar suits. It is the exact opposite of traditional Poker, where higher numbers are more valuable, and having similar suits is stronger than having different ones.

This type of hand ranking where the values are inverted is called "Lowball Poker", and although it is the standard for Badugi, it can also be used as a sub-variant to other Poker games.

Stud Poker

Stud Poker deals seven cards to each player. Four of those are face-up, and three of them are face-down. Hands are generally made with five cards out of the seven you're given (except for Five-Card Stud, as we'll see).

Seven-Card Stud

Unlike most Poker variants, Seven-Card Stud doesn't have a dealer. Instead, each player includes an ante in the centre of the table. The cost of this ante is defined from table to table, with each having its limits.

Then, every player gets three cards. Two face-down, one face-up. The unlucky player who gets the lowest value face-up card has to pay a "bring in" cost, which is most commonly equal to half the quantity of the lowest limit.

After that, the first betting round starts and the first player to bet is the one to the left of the bring-in player.

Once the first betting round ends, the players that are still in the pot are dealt one face-up card. This is followed by another two betting rounds where each player receives a face-up card, and then you have a final betting round where each player receives a face-down card. The player with the highest face-up cards begins each of these betting rounds.

Five-Card Stud

Probably the first ever Poker game, the five-card stud variant is a form of Poker with more open information regarding the strength of each player.

Players start with one face-up card and one face-down card, followed by their first betting round. Then, they can have up to 3 more betting rounds, and get one more face-up card at the start of each betting round.

As you can see, you only have one hidden card, as opposed to Seven Card Stud where you get two face-down cards instead.

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