The Variations of Poker

The history of poker is such that no-one is absolutely certain where the game originated and some experts believe it has a combined ancestry of card games from all over Europe and possibly the Middle East. The extraordinary number of variants which exist today backs this theory up admirably and we take a look at some of the more prevalent alternatives of this popular card game.

Most poker derivatives fit pretty snugly into one of three categories – Draw, Stud or Community Card Poker, and we take a look at the more common rule deviations.

  • Stripped Deck – many card games opt to play with a smaller deck, not the traditional 52-card deck. Manila, an Australian card game, plays with only 32 cards with all denominations below 7 removed and the popular five-card stud also plays with 32 cards with all cards from 2 through 6 removed from the pack. Eights, nines and tens are removed, and a joker added, in Mexican Stud, for example.
  • High-Low Split – as the name suggests, both the highest and lowest hands are considered winners and split the pot. The low hand is generally given strict criteria it must adhere to, for example, it must consist of 5 cards with denominations less than 7. In virtually all the high-low games the ranks, or which hand beats which, are the same as the original form of poker. Omaha hi-lo, which is very popular in poker tournaments, and 7-card stud hi-lo are fine examples of this variant.
  • Pass Cards – in this variant of poker, players are allowed to pass cards amongst themselves. Anaconda is a great example of a poker variant which allows cards to be passed.
  • Lowball – in this form of poker the lowest hand pockets the loot. Each game may have different rules pertaining to the value of the aces – are they valued at 1 or 11. Razz and Triple Draw Lowball are forms of Lowball Poker.
  • Kill Game – In a fixed limit game should a player win in consecutive rounds then the stakes are doubled.
  • Wild Cards – many poker variants introduce cards which may represent any value – the joker is an ideal example of a wild card. Five-card stud traditionally plays the joker as wild.
  • Twist Round – in these forms of poker players may buy additional cards from the deck by adding extra moola to the pot during a twist round. Should the player be unhappy with his purchase, he may, in many instances, be able to buy another by adding more chips or cash to the pot. Stud poker often embraces a twist round.
  • Community Cards – players are not limited to the cards in hand, they may also utilise the cards dealt face up on the table – aptly dubbed community cards. Texas and Omaha Holdem are the most popular examples of Community Card Poker.