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Understanding the Best Poker Variants

Home » Understanding the Best Poker Variants

Understanding the Best Poker Variants

a royal flush of hearts between poker chips and dice on a green felt poker table

Over the years, poker has spawned so many variations that it’s difficult to keep track of the latest format let alone know which will best suit your playing style. With each variant having its own unique set of rules and nuances it can be thrilling but equally daunting for both seasoned players and newcomers alike.

Here’s a handful of the most popular and fun poker variations and a brief discussion of their basic rules so you can choose the one best suited to you.

Texas Hold’em

a person showing their ace playing cards on a poker table with poker chips

This is one of the most widely-played variants and a great place to start when you’re learning how to play poker. It remains the most popular variant in online poker, too.

Players start with two pocket (or hole) cards, followed by five community cards placed face down on the table. After betting rounds, three community cards are turned face up (the flop) followed by another round of betting.

Next, the fourth community card (the turn) is revealed, doubling the stakes for betting. Finally, the fifth community card (the river) is flipped, leading to another round of betting with doubled stakes. Players then participate in a showdown using their pocket cards and community cards to form the highest-ranked hand to take the pot of chips


Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em but with a twist. There are four betting rounds and five community cards, however, the five community cards start face up from the beginning and each player receives four pocket cards instead of two.

Each player makes their five-card hand from their four pocket cards and the five community cards. There are also Omaha poker variations such as Omaha Hi-Lo, with each player creating a five-card hand that’s high and another five-card hand that’s low.

The Omaha variant offers more possibilities and requires careful hand selection and strategic thinking. 

Seven-Card Stud

This game was king before the Texas Hold’em poker game exploded in popularity and still has a loyal player base in the online poker tournament world. There’s a little more to it and it’s generally thought to involve more skill.

In Seven-Card Stud you have two to eight players and there’s no flop or community cards. Instead, the game starts with two cards face down and a third face up (the hole cards and the door card.) You’re dealt seven cards (three face down and four face up) and you choose the best five-card combination. 

Your opponents must show you some of their cards during a hand, with everyone revealing their hand after the last round of betting. The holder of the best five-card hand from the seven dealt, wins. 


Razz is a lowball variant where the objective is to make the lowest hand possible using seven cards. The game’s ranking system does not count flushes and straights against the lowest hand. Moreover, aces are ranked lower, making A-2-3-4-5 the best possible hand. 

This variant is a test of patience and discipline. Razz also follows a Stud format, meaning the players have no opportunity to swap their cards.

Five-Card Draw

In this poker variation it’s mostly about the cards you’re dealt, but with a little room for strategy, too. The goal is simple, to make the best five-card hand.

Everyone is dealt five cards to start off with and the first round of betting takes place, wherafter you can exchange up to three cards and move on to the next round of betting. After this the player with the best hand wins.

It’s straightforward, but players often try to gauge their opponents to see if they can gain an advantage by reading their betting patterns. For example, the number of cards your opponent chooses to draw after the first round of betting could indicate what kind of hand they have. Or they could be bluffing in the hope that you will fold. 

Choosing the Best Variation

When selecting the best poker variations, consider your playing style and objectives. If you enjoy the thrill of community cards and strategic play, Texas Hold’em may be your best fit. On the other hand, if you prefer more opportunities to create strong hands, Omaha could be the right choice. Razz appeals to those seeking a unique challenge in lowball poker while Seven-Card Stud rewards players with excellent memory and observation skills.

Common Poker Terms

fingers lifting up royal flush of spades on a green felt poker table

Have you ever pondered the meaning of a poker term that keeps coming up? Below is a list of essential poker terms and definitions to learn before you start to play different poker formats. While these terms are specific to poker, some are also used in card games in general.


Blinds are forced bets that start the betting in Texas Hold’em and Omaha. The small blind is made by the player sitting to the dealer’s left and is usually half the big blind.

The player sitting to the left of the player who made the small blind makes the big blind. Big blind is equivalent to the minimum bet. Once the big blind has been made, the rest of the players, in a clockwise direction, proceed towards the first betting round.


The flop describes the first three community cards dealt face up in Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Preflop is the first betting round, where players take action without any of the community cards revealed.


The turn refers to the fourth community card revealed in Texas Hold’em and Omaha, followed by players making bets. 


This is the fifth and final community card revealed in Texas Hold’em and Omaha. What follows is the remaining players on the table making their bets.


An ante is a forced bet required of all players before a hand begins. In some variants such as Seven-Card Stud, this is a minimum amount of money you need to bet so that you’re eligible to play.


To call is to match the bet made by the opponent. In a poker game with betting, there’s a minimum amount that each player has to play with each round. To call the bet means the player will put the minimum amount needed into the pot for the betting to continue with the next player.


When you place a bet that’s higher than the minimum amount to play, it’s called a raise. This causes all of the bets to go up to the new amount you set, which means the other players have to either call or fold.


Folding means forfeiting the game during the player’s turn. The player will not be eligible to participate in subsequent rounds. You do this by putting all your cards face down onto the table.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Embrace the diversity of fun poker variations and explore the one that most resonates with you. Whether you’re drawn to the strategic depth of Texas Hold’em, the excitement of Omaha or the challenge of Razz, there’s a game for every taste and preference. Register with BetMGM for online casino games and immerse yourself in the captivating world of poker.

 It can be hard to decide which poker variant best suits your playing style. Read on for a discussion of a handful of the best formats and key poker terms.