Poker Game Variations

The popular game of poker has many variations you can play. However, just because you may know how to play one way, doesn’t mean that another variation can be picked up without knowing the rules. Each version of poker has its own rules, hand values, number of betting rounds and actions between rounds. However, each variation generally only take a few moments to learn. And with practice, you can master all of the different types. Here are a few of the most popular:


In stud poker, each player receives a combination of face-up cards and face-down cards in multiple betting rounds. The most common of these are 7-card stud and 5-card stud. For those online players who are unfamiliar with this variant of poker, it’s very different from Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha. There are no communal cards, you have a better chance of accurately putting a player on a hand, and your position in the order of the betting can change five times in one hand.

7-Card Stud

This poker variant is similar to Texas Hold ‘em, but with slightly different rules. Seven-card stud is played both high only (meaning the highest hand wins) and hi/lo (the highest hand splits the winnings with the lowest hand). Up to eight players can play in this game, but it’s possible there won’t be enough cards if every player makes it to the end of the game. In this case, instead of dealing a card to each active player, the dealer turns a community card that all players can use. The game can be broken up into four sections: Setup, the bring, betting rounds and the showdown. The best hand wins.

5-Card Stud

This is the earliest form of the card game stud poker, originating during the American Civil War. All players must first ante before they receive their initial cards, just like in 7-card stud. There are four betting rounds, not including the ante. Each player is dealt two cards, one face-up and one face-down. The first round of betting ensues, then each player receives one more card face-down and the second round of betting begins. Then a fourth card is dealt face-down and the third round of betting begins before the fifth and final card is dealt face-down, followed by the final round of betting.


Players hold a different number of cards in their hand based on which poker variation they are playing.


Draw poker is a very popular variant and is played in poker rooms worldwide. In draw poker, players are dealt a complete hand, hidden, and then improve it by replacing cards. There can be anywhere from two to eight players at the table. Players are first dealt their hole cards, which are considered down cards. Down cards mean that the cards are not shown to anyone else at the table. The ante, or the stake put up by a player before receiving cards, starts with the player to the left of the dealer. In online games, there are typically blinds (money in chip form). There would be a small and large blind with the small blind being to the left of the dealer and the big blind being to the left of the small blind.

After the first round of better, players can choose which cards they would like to discard. In most games, participants set a max amount of cards allowed to discard. Next, the draw begins. Players are dealt new cards in the same number of cards they just discarded (if they discarded two, they will be dealt two). After the draw, a second round of betting ensues and the players either bet, call, raise or fold. The best five cards win.

5-Card Draw

The most common type of draw poker is 5-Card Draw, which is often the simplest and first variant of poker learned by players. Each player is dealt five hole cards, but on the initial go around, the player may choose to trade in up to three of them. There are two ways to play 5-card draw: ante and blinds. The ante method is the original way the game was played is is the most common system used in games around the world. Players must pay a predetermined ante before being dealt any cards. In the blinds version, only the two players to the left of the dealer must pay money before the cards are dealt. The player to the dealer’s immediate left pays the small blind, while the player to the left of the small blind pays the big blind.


In community card poker, a player’s incomplete hidden hand is combined with shared face-up cards. It refers to any game of poker that uses community cards, or shared cards. These cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table and are shared by all of the players. The set of community cards is known as the “board” and may be dealt in a simple line or arranged in a set pattern. The most popular community card games are Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha. At the end of a game, each player will have two cards, but has access to the five community cards from which that player can attempt to make the winning hand.


The three cards in the center of the table represent community cards.

Texas Hold ‘em

This community card poker game is focused just as much on betting as it is the cards being played. It’s played with a rotating dealer and during each hand, players are dealt two cards face-down and three community cards face-up. A hand consists of a minimum of one and a maximum of four betting rounds. A hand ends when all but one of the players have folded, or the final betting round is complete. The ultimate goal is to win as many chips as you can. See our Texas Hold ‘em guide for more rules and strategy.


Omaha poker is a very popular variant of poker. It’s mainly played with high hands only, but the high-low split version is also popular. It’s very similar to the way in which Texas Hold ‘em is played, with only one major difference. In Omaha, players receive four hole cards rather than two. In order to produce a winning hand, a player must use two cards from his hand, but can only use two cards. Omaha is a game of community cards with a flop, turn and river, and the betting rounds play the same.