Overview of the different Types of Poker

Poker is a game that is played in many different variations. This article introduces the most common played types of poker.

Poker is played with a normal, 52-card deck, without the jokers. There are 13 cards from two through to ace in four different suits (spades , hearts , diamonds , clubs ).

1) Texas Hold'em

 Texas Hold'em (or simply Hold'em) is currently the most popular type of poker in the casinos and poker rooms of Europe and North America. Each player receives two hidden cards, the hole cards, which only he can use and which he should not reveal to anyone else. Over the course of the game five community cards, which every player can use, are dealt to the middle of the table. Those so-called community cards form the board. Every player then tries to put together the best five-card poker hand using none, one or both of his hole cards as well as the open community cards in the centre of the table. In order to do that, it is imperative that you know the hierarchy of poker hands (royal flush, two pair, straight), which can be looked up here.

 Texas Hold'em and many other games are played using a "button". In a casino this is a plastic disk in form of a button, online it is a round symbol with a "D" on it. The dealer button indicates which player is the formal dealer for the current game. Since the player on the button would normally deal the cards, but in a casino this is done by an employee (dealer) and online the cards are dealt automatically.

Before the cards are dealt, the two players to the immediate left of the dealer must post certain amounts of money called "blinds". The first player must post the small blind; the next player has to post the big blind. The blind amounts are determined before the start of the first hand and they do not change during the game. The small blind is generally half as much as the big blind.

Once the blinds have been posted, the dealer deals the first hole card to each player, moving round the table clockwise starting with the player to the left, and then deals the second hole card in the same manner.

As soon as all the players have received and looked at their cards, the first round of betting begins. The first player to the left of the big blind now has the option to either fold, call or raise. Then the action continues clockwise with the next player, who again has the same options until it was the big blind's turn to act (in poker jargon they say until the big blind has spoken). As soon as all player have posted the same bet amount the betting round is finished. If a player has raised, then the betting round ends with the player before him. Before the flop the big blind can also check (provided that none of the opponents has raised), since he has already posted the big blind. After the first round of betting is finished, the flop is dealt. It is the first three of a total of five community cards, which are dealt face-up to the centre of the table.

A new round of betting begins with the first player still in the hand (that hasn't folded yet) sitting closest to the left of the button. The term button is also used for players. The player, who has the button in front of him is called "the button" as well. The same applies to the small blind and the big blind. You say, for example: "The big blind won the pot". After each played hand the button is passed on to the next player. Accordingly the person, who is called button changes as well.

As soon as this betting round is finished, a fourth community card is dealt face-up in the centre; it is called the turn card, or just the turn. The next betting round again begins with the player to the left of the button.

Once the betting round for the turn is complete, the last of the five open community cards is dealt: the river card, or the river. The last betting round begins as usual, with the player to the left of the button.

When the last round is over and there are still at least two players left in the hand, there is a showdown to determine the winner. The players now turn over their cards to show what their hand is. The player who can put together the best five-card poker hand from a total of seven cards available (five community cards and two hole cards) wins the pot. If two or more players have the same hand, then the pot is split equally (split pot). After the pot has been distributed, the hand is over and new cards can be dealt for another hand. Before the next hand starts, the button moves one player further to the left. If ten players are sitting at the table, every player will have been dealer once after ten hands, small blind once and big blind once.

Texas Hold'em is played in three main variations: limit, pot limit and no limit. They differ from each other in betting amounts. In limit the amounts you can bet are fixed. In pot limit the smallest possible amount you can bet is the big blind and the biggest possible amount is the size of the pot. An upper limit does not exist. However, you can never bet more than the money or chips you have in front of you at the table. Information about the characteristics and peculiarities of the different variants such as limit, pot limit and no limit can be found in our article on "Limit Variants of Texas Hold'em".

No limit hold'em is by far the most popular type of poker.

2) Omaha

 Omaha is an exciting game derived from Texas Hold'em. But in Omaha, each player receives four hidden cards, instead of two. Each player must use exactly three community cards together with two of their hole cards to form the best possible five-card poker hand. In contrast to Texas Hold'em, where players can choose whether to use none, one, or both of their hole cards to form their final hand, in Omaha each player must do this using exactly two of his hole cards and three community cards!

Omaha is typically played with a pot limit.

The prodecure and the terms correspond completely to those in Texas Hold'em. As described above there is only a single difference: Each player receives two instead of four hole cards and must use exactly two of these cards to form the best five-card poker hand. 

3) Seven Card Stud

 Seven Card Stud was for many years an extremely popular poker game. In the course of the game, every player receives seven cards in total: three hidden and four exposed cards. Each player has to build his final five-card hand from his own seven cards. In other words, there are no community cards like in Hold'em or Omaha. Seven Card Stud is a rather complicated game, as a lot of cards are open and you have to remember a lot of your opponent's cards. Seven-Card Stud is played without a button.

Seven Card Stud is almost always played with a fixed-limit betting structure. Thus, the size of the bets is predetermined. We distinguish between a small and a big bet. A big bet is twice as much as a small bet.

Before the dealer deals the cards in Seven Card Stud, all players must post a fixed amount, called an ante. Then the dealer deals two cards face down to each player, the hole cards. In addition to that, each player receives a third, but open card, which is placed directly to his hole cards. In the first round of betting the player with the lowest displayed card has to post what is known as a bring-in. This bet is mandatory, however the player can choose whether he wants to post half a small bet or a full small bet. The other players now follow in a clockwise direction starting with the player to the dealer's left who posted the bring-in. Each player has the opportunity of either folding, and, if half a bet was made, calling the bet or raising to a full small bet. Once all players have made their decisions, the first round of betting is complete.

Please note: When two or more players have exposed a card of the same rank, we look at the suit in order to determine who must post the bring-in. The order of suit value from highest to lowest is: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.

Each player then receives another card face up. After that the second betting round (Fourth Street) begins with the player with the best cards showing by either checking or making a small bet. If a player has an open pair (two cards of the same rank, e.g. ) showing, he can also post a big bet.

 Then each player still in the hand is dealt a fifth card face up, known as Fifth Street. The third round of betting begins, starting once again with the player whose exposed cards have the highest poker value, who then chooses one of the possible actions.

Please note: From this point on, each player has to post a big bet.

The dealer deals the remaining players their sixth open card. And once again the next betting round, this time the fourth (Sixth Street), starts with the player who shows the best four-card hand on the table.

Finally, the seventh and last card is dealt face down. The fifth betting round (Seventh Street) starts again with the player who shows the best four-card hand on the table. (This is usually the same player who opened the betting on Sixth Street, as the open cards haven't changed. Only in the event that this player folded in the previous betting round will there be a new best hand.)

If more than one player remains in the hand after the last round of betting is finished, there is a showdown. The player, who made the last bet or raise has to show his hole cards first. The player with the best poker hand, comprising five of his seven cards, wins the pot. If two or more players have the same hand, then the pot is split accordingly. (Please note: the suit doesn't matter anymore as it did for the bring-in described above!).

After the pot is distributed, a new hand of Seven Card Stud can start.

4) High/Low variants

Hi/Lo is not a poker game in itself, but rather a modified rule that can be used in Omaha and Seven Card Stud.

The pot is split into two halves. The player with the highest hand (the high) wins half the pot, and the other half goes to the player with the lowest hand (the low). However, this only happens if a player shows a qualifying low hand. Thereby the ace counts as lowest card. In order to qualify for a low, a five-card hand may not contain any card higher than an eight. Straights (five unsuited cards in a row) and flushes (five cards of the same suit) do not count as a low hand. So if you have a small straight or flush it can also be a very good low hand.

The best low hand is , the worst is . If several players have low hands, then the player with the lowest low wins. First of all the highest of the five cards is compared. In case both players have the same highest card, we compare the second highest card etc. Thus, is better than . If more players have the same low hand, then half of the pot is split accordingly. How to determine the best high hand is explained in the article "Poker Hand Ranking".

When forming the high hand and the low hand you can produce different combinations with your five cards.

  • Example:

         You are holding .

          Thus, the best possible high hand is .

          The best low hand is .

          Both hands play at the same time. If you have the best high hand 

          and the best low hand you win the whole pot.


In case no player has a qualifying low hand (five cards lower or equal to an eight), the best high hand wins the entire pot.

Omaha Hi/Lo and Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo are extremely complex games and too sophisticated for beginners. They should stick to the standard types of poker in order to test and improve their skills.