Understanding Poker Variations: A Breakdown of the Types

Understanding Poker Variations: A Breakdown of the Types Header Image

Poker is arguably the most played and famous casino game of all time. Like other casino games, poker has a multitude of variations that players can choose from depending on their preferences.

When searching for an online casino poker variation, it is important to note that they will typically fall under one of three categories:

  • Community Card Poker 
  • Draw Poker
  • Stud Poker 

*Please note that certain unique poker games can contain rules and structures from more than one poker category.


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Top 10 Poker Variations

5-Card Draw

This draw poker variation is often seen as the easiest to play, due to its simple goal; to attain the strongest hand of 5 cards, which is the exact opposite of Badugi and 2-7 Triple Draw.

5-Card Draw originated as far back as the Civil War around 1850 and is usually a recommend poker variation for new online casino players.

5-Card Draw basic rules

  • Begins with small and big blinds.
  • Players are dealt five cards.
  • A total of three rounds; pre-draw, draw, and showdown.
  • Players are able to switch between 0 and all 5 cards.
  • The goal is to attain the strongest possible hand (refer to traditional ranking system in Texas Hold 'Em).

5-Card Omaha

5-Card Omaha carries a different structure than 5-Card Draw. The community card poker variation is also among the most widely-played poker games around the world.

This variation is also similar to traditional Texas Hold 'Em since players are dealt 5 hole cards and must make the strongest hand using a combination of their own hand and the community cards.

5-Card Omaha basic rules

  • Includes traditional blinds betting.
  • Players are dealt five hole cards.
  • A total of four rounds; pre-flop, turn, river, and showdown.
  • Players must use two out of their five hole cards in order to combine them with the three community cards.
  • In order to win, players must also create the best hand in the round (follows the same ranking system as Texas Hold 'Em poker).


Badugi is a well-known online draw poker variation that has existed since the 80s in Winnipeg, Canada.

The Canadian poker game is quite different than traditional poker and is most comparable to 2-7 Triple Draw or Lowball.

Badugi basic rules

  • Big and small blinds are used each game.
  • Players are dealt four cards.
  • There are four rounds; pre-draw, draw, post-draw, and showdown.
  • Players can trade in between 1-4 cards to create the strongest lowball hand.
  • There are three opportunities to switch your hand.
  • In order to win, players must possess the weakest or lowball hand of different suits. (ex. 6 of hearts, 4 of spades, 3 of diamonds, and Ace of clubs beats a hand of 9 of spades, 7 of hearts, 5 of diamonds and 2 of clubs)

Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker gained prominence in the 90s, but is not widely considered as a among the best poker games available.

Chinese Poker basic rules

  • Up to four players are dealt 13 cards each and must divide their cards into three hands in order to strength (Two 5 and one 3-card hand).
  • Chinese Poker has 4 rounds; setting, exposing hands, royalty round, and the hand reveal.
  • Each player then matches up against one another to determine who has the best hands; each hand is won individually and the winning player is given a unit instead of a traditional winning bet.
  • In order to win, players must organize and possess the strongest three hands, with extra bonuses being awarded to the player who wins more hands. Any player who attains a straight or flush in all three hands wins automatically and must be announced before the showdown round. 

Omaha Hi

Omaha Hi is another well-known community card poker variation that is loved by all who play it. As the end of the name suggests, the main objective of the game focuses on attaining the best hand.

Omaha Hi basic rules

  • Each player is dealt 4 cards.
  • There are four rounds; pre-flop, flop, turn, and river.
  • In order to win, players need to create the strongest hand by using at least two of their hole cards and three community cards, which differs from traditional poker.

Omaha Hi-Lo

While Omaha Hi-Lo is not as favored as Omaha-Hi, it is a fun yet more difficult community card poker variant that demands more focus than a traditional poker game.

Omaha Hi-Lo basic rules

  • Blinds betting is required to participate.
  • Each player is dealt 4 cards.
  • Omaha Hi-Lo follows the five-round format.
  • In order to win, players need to create the strongest or weakest hand by using at least two of their hole cards and three community cards. During the final found, two players only split the round's pot if they attain the best or worst-ranked hands. Please note that hands containing a straight or flush do not qualify as winning combinations and that in order to win with a "low" hand, players must have 8 and lower-ranked cards.


While the Pineapple community card poker game is comparable to Texas Hold 'Em, there is a very noticeable difference between the two. Players are dealt three cards instead of two.

Pineapple poker basic rules

  • Traditional blind betting is required before the round starts.
  • Each player is dealt 3 hole cards and one card must be removed
  • Follows the typical five-round poker game round structure.
  • The objective of the Pineapple matches the typical one of community card poker; have the highest-ranked hand by the end of each round.


Razz  has existed since the early 1900s and is considered as a stud poker variation. This poker variation is also considered to be more difficult than traditional poker and is not recommended for beginners.

Furthermore, Razz is comparable to Badugi, where players have to create the weakest hand in order to win. There are subtle differences, however.

  • Antes are used each game as they are required by all players.
  • Razz poker contains the tradition five betting rounds in poker.
  • The house deals two hole cards and one face-up card to each player.
  • The player who was dealt the strongest face-up card makes the first bet while the others are dealt another face-up card.
  • The player who contains the lowest (yet strongest) face-up cards then decides to either check or bet.
  • After another round of face-up cards being dealt, another hole card is dealt and the players must create the best hand possible to win.
  • The player who creates the lowest hand wins. (straights or flushes do not count and aces count solely as a 1).

Short Deck

Short Deck community card poker is another variant that is like Texas Hold 'Em, but the difference exists in the strength of two winning hands; a flush and full-house.

The reason why the game is called "Short Deck" is because cards ranked 2-5 are removed from play.

  • Ante bets are required to play every round.
  • Two cards are dealt to each player by the dealer.
  • The traditional five rounds in poker are played in Short Deck poker.
  • The strongest five-card hand wins. The notable difference in hand rankings is that a flush beats a full-house in Short Deck poker.

Texas Hold 'em

The most common type of poker is Texas Hold 'em, which is a community card poker variation.

  • Large and small blinds are required by each player participating in the game.
  • Players are dealt two hole cards each.
  • The five rounds are the pre-flop, flop, turn, river, and showdown.
  • The player who bets and stays in the game and has the strongest hand wins the game.

Online Poker Resources

Confidence is key to be a successful poker player. Take advantage of the following poker guides to help boost your play:

Online poker is currently legal in MichiganNew JerseyPennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. For more legal information regarding your state, take a look at our online casino legalization tracker.