List of poker variants

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The card game of poker has many variations, most of which were created in the United States in the mid-1900s. The standard order of play applies to most of these games, but to fully specify a poker game requires details about which hand values are used, the number of betting rounds, and exactly what cards are dealt and what other actions are taken between rounds.

Popular poker variants[edit]

The three most popular poker variants are spread in casinos and poker rooms worldwide and can be divided into the following groups:

Here are more common rule variations:

  1. Lowball: The lowest hand wins the pot. There are different rules about whether or not aces count as low, and the effects of straights and flushes. The most common variants are Razz and 2-7 Triple Draw
  2. High-low split: the highest and lowest hands split the pot. Generally there is a qualifier for the low hand. For example, the low hand must have 5 cards with ranks of 8 or less. In most high-low games the usual rank of poker hands is observed, so that an unsuited broken straight (7-5-4-3-2) wins low (see Morehead, Official Rules of Card Games). In a variant, based on Lowball, where only the low hand wins, a straight or a flush does not matter for a low hand. So the best low hand is 5-4-3-2-A, suited or not.
  3. Players can pass cards to each other. An example of this would be Anaconda.
  4. 'Kill game'. When a fixed limit game is played and a player wins two pots in a row, the stakes are doubled. In some split-pot games (e.g., Omaha), a player winning both halves of the pot may also cause a kill. In some variants of Lowball, a player may choose to kill by placing a double bet after seeing his first two cards.
  5. Wild cards are added. This can range from simply making deuces wild to the wild 7-stud variant of baseball.
  6. A twist round in which players can buy another card from the deck. If a player does not like the purchased card, the player can purchase another one by adding money to the pot. This is sometimes called a "Tittle."
  7. A stripped deck may be used. Poker was first played with only 20 cards. In the spirit of poker history, players will sometimes only play with a stripped deck. A popular poker game in Spain is played with cards 8-A. It is played similar to hold'em, except that one card is dealt at a time and a player must use both hole cards.
  8. A royal deck is where players use two decks but only 48-56 cards. The playing deck is made up of the cards 9-A from both decks making the number of cards 48. In some variations of the game (typical for larger groups) the 8's maybe also be included, making the total number of cards 56. Same rules as normal poker apply, though suit ranking may also be used since the probability that two players will have similar hands may increase with this variation.
  9. The double flip variant (also known as doomsday and the jaws of victory) was introduced in pub/club games throughout Europe in recent years and was devised to keep inactive (‘busted out’) players in the mix, and therefore, in the pub or club. If players are heads-up (i.e. there are only 2 players left) in a tournament, and both players have the same ranked pocket pairs (e.g. both players have KK, or both players have 33 etc.) and if on the same hands, one of the players is all-in and called (or calls with his/her entire stack), then the double flip situation occurs. All players that were previously present on the table (and subsequent ‘busted out’) will be given a share of the pot (determined at the start of the game – usually the pot will just be split between the inactive players who are still present and the player who was all-in, with the chip-leading receiving no part of the pot; the unlucky heads-up players [the chances of both players having the same ranked pair is 1 in 20,825] receive nothing in this situation). Play then continues as per normal. The rule is common practice now in all pub/club games throughout Europe and is becoming more popular in North America.
  10. Roll your own is played in stud games, and allows the player to determine which of his or her cards are turned up and visible to the other players. In a game like Seven-card Stud, the "roll" action only applies to the first 3 cards, all of which are dealt face down. Each player then determines which card to expose. Play then continues as with regular Seven-card Stud. But a game like Mexican Stud applies the roll option throughout the game. Two cards are dealt face down, and the players roll one card up. The game continues just as in Five-card Stud, except the cards are dealt face down, and each player then decides which of the two down cards is exposed. Whether cards are rolled in player order, or all at once, should be decided before the game begins, if not already dictated by the specific game's rules, as there is an advantage to being able to see your opponents exposed cards before deciding which card you will roll.

Mixed poker games[edit]

Poker can be played in a mixed game format, for example one half hour of Texas hold 'em followed by one half hour of Seven-card stud. There are many types of mixed poker games. The most notable mixed poker variation is H.O.R.S.E. poker. H.O.R.S.E. is a mix of Texas hold 'em, Omaha high-low, Razz, Seven-card stud and Seven Card Stud Eight-or-better. Each game will usually be played for a fixed number of hands or time and then the players will move on to the next game.

Other mixed games include:

  • H.O.S.E. - same as H.O.R.S.E., except without Razz.
  • H.O.E. - same as H.O.R.S.E, except no Razz or Seven-card stud.
  • H.O. - Texas hold 'em and Omaha high-low
  • O.E. - Omaha high-low and Seven-card Stud Eight or better.
  • H.A. - Pot limit Texas hold 'em and pot limit Omaha.
  • Omaha High-low Mixed - Fixed limit Omaha and pot limit Omaha high-low
  • Holdem Mixed - Fixed limit and no limit Texas hold 'em.
  • Eight Game Mix - Fixed limit 2-7 Triple Draw, fixed limit Texas hold 'em, fixed limit Omaha Hi-Low Eight or better, Razz, fixed limit Seven-card stud, fixed limit Seven-card stud Hi-Low eight or better, no limit Texas hold 'em and pot limit Omaha.
  • Ten Game Mix (introduced at 2011 World Series of Poker) - No limit Hold'em, fixed limit Seven-card Razz, fixed limit Hold'em, fixed limit Badugi, fixed limit Seven-card Stud, no limit 2-7 Single Draw, fixed limit Omaha Hi-Low eight or better, pot limit Omaha, fixed limit 2-7 Triple Draw and fixed limit Seven-card stud Hi-Low eight or better (played with 6 players on a table).
  • Twelve Game Mix - Badugi (Ba), Badeucy (By), Pot Limit Omaha (A), Razz (R), 2-7 Triple Draw (T), Razzdugi (I), Crazy Pineapple Hi/Lo (C), Limit Hold'em (H), Omaha Hi/Lo (O), Kansas City Lowball (a.k.a. no limit 2-7 Single Draw) (K), Stud Hi/Lo (Eight-or-Better) (E), Seven Card Stud (S).[1] (BaBy ARTICHOKES)
  • Thirteen Game Mix - same as Twelve Game Mix plus No Limit Hold'em

Specific poker variant games[edit]

Some poker games just don't fit neatly into the above categories, and some have features of more than one of these categories. These variants are most often played in home games, usually as part of a dealer's choice format.

Stud Horse poker[edit]

Stud Horse poker was banned by California statute Section 330 in 1885, although no definition was given. In 1947, the attorney general of California ruled that stud horse poker was the same game as stud poker, and later the restriction on stud horse poker was removed.

Oxford stud[edit]

Though called "stud", this is a combination stud/community card game that was popular at MIT in the 1960s[citation needed], in which players receive individual downcards, individual upcards, and community cards. Many variations on this are possible by changing what kinds of cards and how many are dealt in various rounds.

One difficulty with such a combination is deciding the betting order: in stud games, the player with the best upcards showing bets first in each round (except sometimes the first, where the worst upcard is forced to begin the betting with a Bring-in). In community card games, each betting round begins with the same player (because there generally are no upcards), making it more positional. Oxford stud chooses to use the players' individual upcards for determining order, which makes it play more like stud.

First, each player is dealt two downcards and one upcard as in seven-card stud, followed by a first betting round. Like stud, the game is usually played with a Bring-in, the lowest upcard being forced to pay it, and betting follows after that. After the first round is complete, two community cards are dealt to the table, followed by a second betting round, beginning with the player with the highest-ranking incomplete poker hand (as in stud) made from his upcard plus the two community cards. For example, if one player has a K upcard, and a second player has a 7 upcard, and the community cards are T-7 (T = 10), the second player bets first (since he has a pair of 7s, and the other player only has K-high). Then a second upcard is dealt to each player, followed by a third betting round, again beginning with the player who can make the best partial hand with his two upcards and the board. Finally, a third community card is dealt to table, followed by a fourth betting round and showdown. Note that as with Mississippi stud, each player has five cards of his hand exposed at this point (two of his own plus three on the board), so it is possible for a flush or straight to be the high hand for the purpose of first bet. At showdown each player makes the best five-card hand he can from the four cards he is dealt plus the three community cards, in any combination. This game is usually played High-low split.

High Chicago or Low Chicago[edit]

Either of these two versions can be played in any stud high game. In High Chicago, or sometimes simply called Chicago, the player with the highest spade face down (referred to as in the hole) receives half the pot. In Low Chicago, the player with the lowest spade in the hole receives half of the pot, with the A♠ being the lowest. If the player with the highest hand also has the highest/lowest spade in the hole, then that player receives the entire pot - having won both sides of the bet.

Follow the Queen[edit]

This 7-card stud game uses a wild-card designated as whichever card is immediately dealt (exposed, or face-up) after any queen previously dealt (exposed). In the event that the final card dealt (exposed) is itself a queen, then all queens are wild. If no queens are dealt (exposed), then there are no wilds for that hand. Betting is the same as in normal 7-card stud games. Follow the Queen is a typical game variant in Dealer's Choice poker games.

Countdown[edit]

In this 5-card game, the dealer gives each player 5 cards face down. After the first round of betting, each player may choose to replace zero to three cards. A second round of betting follows and then players may opt to replace zero to two cards. Upon completing another round of betting, each player may replace one card of the cards in their hand. After a final round of betting, any remaining players show their hands, and the highest 5 card hand wins. The cost of cards doubles each round. For example, if the dealer says each replacement card costs $10 in the first round, then each card costs $20 in the second round, and $40 in the final round. When players purchase cards to replace ones in their hand, they put the cost of the cards in the pot.

This game will only work with 4 players (or fewer) otherwise you will run out of cards.

Billabong (and Shanghai)[edit]

Just as Oxford stud is a mixed stud/community card version of Texas hold 'em, Billabong is a mixed version of Manila. Each player is dealt two downcards and one upcard. Low upcard starts the betting with a Bring-in if you are playing with one, otherwise high card starts the betting. Next, two community cards are dealt, followed by a second betting round, beginning with the player with the best exposed partial poker hand (counting the community cards, as in Oxford stud). Then a third community card is dealt, followed by a third betting round. Finally a fourth community card is dealt, followed by a fourth betting round and showdown. Each player plays the best five-card hand he can make from the three in his hand plus the four on the board in any combination.

Shanghai is the same game with an extra hole card, but no more than two hole cards play. That is, the game begins with each player being dealt three downcards and one upcard; each player must discard one of his hole cards at some point during the game as determined ahead of time. The most common variation is to discard immediately as in Pineapple; the second most common is to discard just before showdown as in Tahoe.

Guts[edit]

Guts is a family of games that are cousins of poker rather than poker variants. They usually involve hands of 3 or fewer cards, ranked similarly to hands in poker, and multiple successive rounds of betting each of which consist of the decision to be "in" or "out", and each with its own showdown. The losers of rounds of guts generally match or double the pot, which grows rapidly. For more details, see Guts (card game).

Five-O poker[edit]

Five-O Poker is a heads-up poker variant in which both players must play five hands of five cards simultaneously. Four of the five cards in each hand are face-up. Once all five hands are down, there is a single round of betting. The winner is determined by matching each hand to the corresponding hand of the opponent. The player with the stronger poker hand in three (or more) out of the five columns, wins, unless a player folds on a bet that was made. If a player beats their opponent with all five hands, this is called a “Five-O” win.

Chinese poker[edit]

Main article: Chinese poker

Chinese poker is a 2-4 player poker game with thirteen cards. The idea is to make three poker hands with increasing rank : two with five cards and one with three cards. If one of the hands does not adhere to increasing rank (i.e. is mis-set), the hand is declared dead and results in some sort of penalty.

Kuhn poker[edit]

Main article: Kuhn poker

Kuhn poker, using a three card deck, is more of game theory problem than an actual game people play, but it can be played by two players.

Real Estate[edit]

This is a game common in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Each player is dealt one card (down). The next three cards are laid face-up in the middle of the table, and as they are laid, their prices are stated by the dealer. e.g. "Nickel, Dime, Quarter" then the stack is placed face-down next to the quarter card and a price is established for the "Mystery" card from the face-down deck, always higher than any face-up card (e.g. "Mystery Card, one dollar" - usually said with great drama). The "geography" of the table resembles a classical early-20th-century urban real estate market, with cards closest to the center (The CBD) holding the highest cost

After a nominal ante, play begins. Players build their hands (up to 5 cards) one card at a time - adding four cards total to the original face-down card, and paying the kitty for each card. After the hands have been built, there is a round of wagering. The winner takes the pot.

A variant (Lady Realtor) uses queens as wild cards.

See also[edit]

References[edit]