Poker is a wide-reaching and mutli-faceted game that literally has hundreds of different variations. Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, Razz, Badugi, Crazy Pineapple, Chicago, Chinese, Open-Face Chinese, Guts, HORSE … the list of poker variations is, truly, a mile long.
In its basic form - the cash game - it's a simple as sitting down with an agreed upon maximum or minimum amount and playing until you (or your opponents) decide to quit.
Given the explosion of online poker and a new generation of avid game players you can now find hundreds of variations within the games themselves, too.
Multi-Table Tournaments, Sit-and-Go’s, Hyper Turbos, Six-Max, Heads-Up, Double or Nothings, Fast-Fold Poker… the amount of poker-game formats you can find nowadays on poker sites is as diverse as those you learned from your grandfather at the kitchen table.
Switch up one or two aspects of the game as in the variations above and the implications for poker strategy multiply equally.
Above all though poker is game rich in tradition and complexity, from the simplest of penny-ante home games to the most prestigious high-stakes tournaments in the world, and whatever type of action you're looking for you can usually find it.
If you’re looking for some guidance as to which poker game to try first, here’s a quick sampler of some of the most popular poker games online.
Find the best online poker sites for each of your favorite poker games! Below find a quick intro to all of the most popular online poker games. If you already know your preferred poker game, click directly through to any of the poker sites listed and get the highest sign-up bonus available online.
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Most Popular Poker Games & Other Useful Info
The most popular poker variation, Texas Hold’em is the game you’ve most likely seen on TV or in the movies. With two hidden hole cards and five exposed "community" cards, Hold’em is packed with great action and strategy and there’s always a game available online, whatever your stakes or skill level.
If you’re just getting started playing Texas Hold’em, we recommend checking out some basic articles that give you a simple understanding of the rules and etiquette of the game and a few tips for solid beginner strategy. Read more about the Texas Holdem rules and game play and some tips on Texas Holdem betting on our Rules page.
If Texas Hold’em poker is considered “high-action” poker, Omaha has to be considered “really high action” poker. Growing a ton in popularity over the last few years, Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold’em in rules and betting structures but has one major difference: In Omaha you get four hole cards compared to two in Hold’em - although you can still only use two to comprise your final hand.
Given the amount of added variables and hand combinations with four hole cards instead of two, you can see how Omaha has action potential on every street. Pot-Limit Omaha is probably the most popular Omaha variant online. You can find out more about its betting structure and game play in our Rules section and check out our beginner strategy series “How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha.”
The "granddaddy" of poker games, Seven-Card Stud is what most people were thinking of when they said "poker" in the past. The dominant game of our grandfathers, you might have learned it at the kitchen table from one of them.
It's definitely not as popular today as it once was - Texas Hold'em is certainly the dominant game of choice now - but you'll still find it in lots of cards rooms (particularly in California) and at the World Series of Poker. It's also a regular component of Mixed Games like HORSE and 8-Game. Learn the basics of Stud poker right here.
Incredibly popular over the last 10 years, poker tournaments of all shape and form appeal to poker players for several reasons. To start with, the return on your investment is always remarkable huge compared to your investment.
In a small-stakes tournament you can turn a $1 or $2 buy-in into several hundred with a luck run of cards. In a larger buy-in tournament, like the Sunday Million on PokerStars, you could turn $215 into $200,000.
It’s that kind of potential that keeps players coming back for more and more – not to mention the fact that if the cards don't go your way, you know exactly how much you stand to lose (not much). Multi-table tournaments, sit-and-gos (one-table tournaments that start as soon as the table is full), double-or-nothings, shootouts … the number of tournament variations these days is massive and always growing.
Online poker used to be relegated to just No-Limit Hold’em cash games but these days there are literally hundreds of variants available to poker players. Here’s a quick look at some of the most common types of poker games you will encounter online.
Cash Games vs. Tournaments
Every poker game that is offered online can be labeled as a tournament or a cash game (also known as a "ring" game). These two different poker games are vastly different in format and strategy.
Players buy into a tournament for an entrance fee and receive a select number of chips. Blind levels continually increase to keep the pressure on players to get in the action. When a player's chips are gone, the player is out of the tournament.
Those who place high will receive a cash reward. Tournament buy-ins vary from $.10 all the way up to $25,000-$100,000+ at the highest of stakes in the world.
In cash games players buy in for a minimum or maximum and play with their money on the table. Everything they win from other players they can keep if they leave the table ahead. If a player loses his or her money, (s)he can rebuy. Stakes range from $.01/$.02 all the way up to $2,000/$4,000, typically.
Below are a list of variants that can be played in tournaments or cash games and in some cases both.
Usually a six-handed table, short-handed poker games tend to be more action-oriented than a table of nine or 10 players. Sometimes these games are also offered with a maximum of four or five players. Short-handed games exist in tournaments and cash games.
Limit or Pot-Limit
Cash games can also be played with limits in place to restrict the betting. In others words it’s impossible to lose your entire stack in one hand (unless you have a very small stack). Limit games are available in cash games or tournaments.
Many consider heads-up poker to be the most pure form of the game. Heads-up is a one-on-one poker game where one player wins and the other loses. It can be played in a sit & go style, across multiple tables in a shootout tournament or in cash games.
Sit & Go
A Sit & Go is a short tournament is usually made up of one table, although some include multiple tables. The game begins as soon as there are enough players signed up. Many players prefer this form of poker game because it's perhaps the least time-intensive variant.
A multi-table tournament (MTT) lets players sign up for a certain registration period beforehand and when that time has expired the tournament begins. These tournaments usually take more time than Sit & Go's but the prizes are usually much better. These tournaments can range anywhere from 20 players up to 50,000.
Bounty tournaments are simply MTTs where there is a bonus for busting certain players. Many online poker rooms put bounties on their pros in select tournaments to help generate interest.
Turbo or Super Turbo
Turbo tournaments are exactly what they sound like – sped up versions of regular Sit & Goes and MTTs. Starting stacks are usually very small and the blinds escalate at a rapid pace. These can quickly turn into a shove-fest.
Shootout tournaments are essentially a series of Sit & Go's where the winners move on to the next round. For example in certain Shootout tournaments if you make it through five rounds you get to the final table where there is serious money to be won.