Texas Hold’em is not the only poker game on the block. Nowadays, there are so many more pore variations that players can choose to play.

In this article, we’ll explain a little bit about the many forms of poker, how to play them, basic strategy – as well as how popular they currently are.

Follow along as we take you on a journey into the wide world of poker formats!

Poker Game Variations:

Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is currently the most popular variant of poker. If you can find a card room or website that offers poker games, Texas Hold’em will almost surely be the featured game with a wide selection of tables and stakes for players to choose from.

Many players, amateur or pro, who have gotten into or been exposed to poker since the early 2000’s will likely know the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em the best. It’s been the most heavily televised and popularized of all poker variants since the turn of the millennium and has easy-to-pick-up hand rankings and rules to follow.

fire icon Popularity: 10/10 – In 2003,Chris Moneymaker turned a $86 satellite entry into a $10,000 WSOP Main Event win for $2.5 million, making every onlooker yearn for being able to experience the same fame, money, and glory as this amateur just came across.The establishment of online poker around the same time led to the biggest “poker boom” to date. Many inspired players were not only able to easily learn the game of poker, but also play it from the convenience of their own home via the Internet. Years later, this boom has helped establish and solidify NLHE as the Cadillac of Poker - the most popular poker variant played.

book icon Ease of Learning: 8/10 - Hold’em is an easy game to both learn and improve at. The sheer popularity of the game has caused there to be many informational sources (videos, books, articles) that give strategic insights into the game, after one learns the basics (which are already relatively straightforward).

Gameplay icon  Gameplay: To start with, the two players to the left of the button put forward forced bets called “blinds”. After 2 hole cards have been dealt to each player, action starts with the player to the left of the big blind and continues clockwise. (Players may either call, raise, or fold.) After this first betting round, 3 cards are dealt onto the table (called the “flop”).

These “community cards” are for all players to be able to use simultaneously to try and make the best poker hand. After another betting round, 1 more community card is dealt (the “turn”), followed by another betting round and then the final “river” community card. After one more round of betting, any remaining players in their hand must then show their cards. The player who has the best 5-card poker hand (comprising of any combination of their 2 hole cards and 5 community cards) wins.

Pros icon  Pros: Because of its popularity, you can usually find this game played anywhere that poker is offered.

Cons icon  Cons: The popularity of Hold’em is a double-edged sword. Because the poker boom happened 15+ years ago, the number of informational products and articles that have been created since then has helped speed up the learning of the game. This factor has helped to level out the playing field and skill gap between pros and recreational players.

Find out more about Texas Hold’em games here.

Omaha Hi

Coming 2nd in popularity to poker’s most popular game is Omaha Hi. In this game, the “hi” refers to the highest hand being awarded the entirety of the pot at showdown. Omaha Hi is usually played as a pot-limit game, which is more commonly referred to as Pot-Limit Omaha (or PLO).

In a nutshell, this game plays exactly like Texas Hold’em, but with one small difference: 4 hole cards instead of 2 are dealt to each player. Players still try to make the best 5-card hand as before, but in doing so must use 2 of their 4 hole cards and only 3 of the 5 community cards at showdown. Because players are dealt more cards at the start of each hand, making a good hand becomes much easier in this game, as the number of 2-hole card combinations increases by 6!

fire icon Popularity: 8/10 – Not all casinos and card rooms will have PLO tables and games available, like Texas Hold’em; however, a growing number of them will offer it as their second poker variant, albeit with far fewer tables running than Hold’em.

book icon Ease of Learning: 8/10 – If you know Texas Hold’em, this game is very easy to learn, as there are numerous similarities between the two. Strategically speaking, because it will be much easier to make a good hand in PLO, typically hands at showdown will be higher than those found in Texas Hold’em. Additionally, blockers (cards that you have in your hand, which in turn mean that your opponent cannot hold those cards in theirs) will become much more relevant in PLO because you’ll have more of them.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Action proceeds just like a hand of Texas Hold’em, with two distinct differences: (1) Players are dealt 4 hole cards instead of 2; and (2) the sizes of bets and raises are usually capped at the size of the pot (i.e. if Pot-Limit Omaha is the variant being played).

Pros icon  Pros: It’ll be easier to make a strong hand because of the increased number of hole cards you’re dealt.

Cons icon Cons: The variance is quite high in Omaha Hi because equities between hands will often run much closer together than in Texas Hold’em.   Players can use different combinations of their hole cards to ultimately help improve the strength of their hand.

Go here for an in-depth guide of Omaha-Hi games.

Omaha Hi-Lo

Omaha Hi-Lo (also known as Omaha 8-or-Better) is a variant similar to Omaha Hi, except that the pot at showdown is divided equally in two between the highest-ranked 5-card poker hand and the lowest. Different combinations of hole cards may be used in order to make both the high and low hands. However, it must be noted that certain conditions must be met in order for the “low” half of the pot to be awarded.

This area is where the “8 or better” part of the name comes into play, in that the all five cards making up the “low” hand must be ranked 8 or lower. Additionally, it should be noted that straights and flushes do not count against a hand in this variant. The lowest possible hand would be any A-2-3-4-5 combo whilst the highest “low” qualifying hand would be 8-7-6-5-4. Note that lowest hands are ranked from the highest card downwards. (i.e. 6-5-4-3-2 would be better than 8-4-3-2-A for the low half of the pot.)

fire icon Popularity: 4/10 –While certainly nowhere near as popular as Omaha-Hi, this poker variant can still be played in select online poker rooms, in addition to being found at large tournament series and events.

book icon Ease of Learning: 4/10 – Because players must think of both high and low combinations of hands in this poker variant, things are slightly more complex than simply trying to make the best, highest-ranked hand, as in Omaha Hi. Additionally, having to know the specifications of what makes up a qualifying “low” hand and how those low hands are ranked makes this variant somewhat more complicated than its Omaha Hi counterpart.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Gameplay proceeds just like in Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi, with 5 community cards being dealt and multiple betting rounds   taking place during the hand - before the flop, after the flop, after the turn, and after the river. At showdown, the pot is divided equally between the highest and lowest hands. If there is no qualifying low hand, the highest hand scoops the entire pot.

Pros icon Pros: Because the pot is divided in two to both the highest and lowest hands, it’s subsequently easier to win (a portion of) the pot in any given hand.

Cons icon Cons: Bluffing is a less prominent part of the game because players might be either trying to make the highest hand OR the lowest hand (or both). As such, more players will stick around until showdown than in other poker variants. Therefore, more emphasis is placed on hand selection (to make both low and high card hands simultaneously) than is placed on trying to make well-timed bluffs.

Learn more about how to play Omaha Hi-Lo here.


7-Card Stud

Before the surging emergence of Texas Hold’em to the forefront of poker’s popularity, Stud poker used to hold ground as the most common form of poker.

Much different than the previously mentioned game types (which use hole cards and community cards for players to make the best hand), each player in Stud ultimately receives their own individual hand. Some of these cards in one’s hand will be face-down and hidden from players, while other cards will be face-up for the rest of the opponents to see.

fire icon Popularity: 4/10 – As mentioned, having once seen its turn in the spotlight, Stud is no longer poker’s #1 game.Nowadays, it is primarily only played in certain tournaments – either those featuring only Stud or those encompassing an array of variants.

book icon Ease of Learning: 6/10 – Because the nature of the game revolves around simply creating the best 5-card poker hand, this is certainly one of the easier poker games to learn. Strategically, however, it’s a difficult one to master because each player has their own separate hand with only some of their cards exposed. Understanding how to read your opponent’s potential strength of hand and being able to compare this to your own will be an important skill to develop in order to do well in this game.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: All players dealt into a hand must also put forward an ante. After this, each player receives two face-down cards, along with one card face-up. The player with the lowest face-up card acts first and must either make a small “bring-in” bet or a complete bet of the smaller increment of the game. Betting continues in a clockwise direction.

After the betting round concludes, remaining players are dealt another face-up card. Now, the player with the highest value of exposed cards is first to act and must make a bet of the smaller increment if they choose to bet. Fifth Street and Sixth Street (and their corresponding betting rounds) both ensue afterwards, with one additional face-up card being dealt per street. The player with the highest combined value of exposed cards acts first after both streets, and in both these betting rounds, the larger of the betting increments is used.

On Seventh Street, each player receives one final card face-down, at which point they must make the best 5-card hand with the 7 cards they’ve been dealt. After the final betting round, Showdown is reached and the player with the best hand wins.

Pros icon ProsIt’s a fun environment to be dealt your own individual poker hand, yet still have the ability to see 4 of your opponents’ 7 cards during a hand, too.

Cons iconCons: With a limit betting structure typically used for stud, profits that one can make each hand are usually capped. The value of gaining an additional big bet (versus losing one) carries much more significance than otherwise.

Discover all you need to know about 7-Card Stud games.

2-7 Triple Draw

This exciting form of poker has all players dealt their own individual 5-card hand (which no other players will be able to see in any capacity – i.e. there will be no face-up or exposed cards). In this low ball form of poker, players have not one, but three draw attempts to try and make the best “low” hand.

Unlike some other “low” forms of poker, it’s important to note that straights and flushes do count against making a low hand. Additionally, note that Aces are always high in this game. As such, this makes the best hand possible in this game 7-5-4-3-2. It also means that a hand like A-2-3-4-5 isn’t a straight, but rather Ace-high.

fire icon Popularity: 4/10 –It’s not uncommon to see this poker variant played at nosebleed stakes, although its popularity has weaned in recent years.Typically, 2-7 Triple Draw is a form of poker that will be found most frequently in mixed games.

book icon Ease of Learning: 7/10 - This form of poker is relatively easy to learn and understand. Gameplay is simple and easy to follow. In essence,   you need to know what straights and flushes are - so that you don’t mistake having that in your low hand. However, it’s very simple to understand what it means to make the lowest, unpaired 5-card hand.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Triple Draw is played with small and big blinds, which are forced bets that must be made by the players to the left of the dealer button before any cards are dealt. Then, after 5 cards are dealt to each player and an initial round of betting takes place, players can select anywhere from all of their cards to be discarded (and subsequently draw 5 new cards) to none (which is called “standing pat”).In total, there are three draws that occur each hand. After each draw round, there is a round of betting, which always starts with the first player still in the hand who is seated to the left of the button.

Pros icon ProsYou have 3 draw chances (instead of just one) to try to make the lowest-ranked hand. Additionally, it’s very easy to determine what the strength of your hand, as you only have 5 cards (as opposed to 7 or more in other forms of poker).

Cons icon Cons: None of your opponents’ cards are visible to you. So, you have nothing to go by in trying to deduce the strength of your opponents’ lowball hands. Additionally, some players may not find this poker variant as fun to play as some of the others because you’re trying to make the lowest 5-card ranked hand (instead of the highest).

Find out all the rules behind the game of 2-7 Triple Draw.

5-Card Draw

In this form of draw poker, players look to make the highest-ranked 5-card poker hand.

To begin with, all players are dealt their own separate hand, which remains hidden from other players. This factor makes for an interesting dynamic, as you can look to make a strong hand yourself. However, you have no idea how it’ll fare against the hands of other players.

fire icon Popularity:  5/10 – In a variety of movies where a friendly game of poker is being played, it’s not at all uncommon to see 5-card draw poker being the variant of choice. It’s easy for onlookers to be assess the strength of each player’s holdings almost instantly because each players’ 5-card hand is displayed right in front of them.

book icon Ease of Learning: 9/10 – This game is very easy to learn, as there’s only one round of drawing, two rounds of betting, andfive cards dealt to each player.(These will be the exact same 5 cards used to help them make their best possible poker hand). Other than needing to learn what the basic poker hand rankings are, 5-Card Draw is pretty straightforward to play.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Just like Hold’em, action starts with a small blind and big blind being put forward before any cards are dealt. After this, each player is dealt 5 cards. Betting action starts with the player seated to the left of the big blind. During this pre-draw betting round, players may either fold, call, or raise. The remaining players then have the opportunity of drawing anywhere between 0 and 5 cards. After this draw, there is one more round of betting before Showdown is reached for any remaining players, where the player with the best hand scoops the pot.

Pros icon Pros: Because there is only one drawing round, not only is the game easy to follow and understand, but it’s also quick to move from one hand to the next. You’ll be playing many more hands per hour in this game than you would in some other forms of poker. Additionally, there’s some added fun to be had in that “one shot” of drawing a new card to see if you’ll be able to improve your hand.

Cons icon Cons: None of your opponents’ cards are visible to you. So, you have nothing to go by other than bet sizings and number of cards drawn in terms of trying to deduce the strength of your opponents’ hands.

Learn the ins and outs on playing 5-Card Draw.

5-Card Omaha

If you like the thrill of being able to make strong hands easily in Omaha Hi, then be sure to check out the action that 5-card Omaha brings to the felts! Instead of being dealt 4 hole cards, each player receives 5 to begin each hand. Still, players must use exactly 2 of their hole cards and 3 of the community cards to try and make the best hand. But, because they have that one more hole card dealt to them than in regular Omaha, there are now even more possibilities for making stronger hands!

This game is typically played in a pot-limit format, but might also be found, from time to time, as a no-limit game.

fire icon Popularity:  6/10 – While not as popular as normal Omaha Hi, 5-card Omaha still certainly finds itself available for many action junkies in poker. Played primarily online, the money is undoubtedly guaranteed to be flying back and forth in these (usually cash) games.

book icon Ease of Learning: 8/10 – This carries with it the same rating as learning traditional Omaha Hi, as the only difference is the extra hole card. To play it, you’ll certainly need to know the rankings of various poker hands. However, to play it well, you’ll have to have not only great starting hand selection skills and solid post-flop gameplay strategies, but also a resilient and tough mental attitude to handle the massive swings in this game.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Play occurs just like that in regular Hold’em or Omaha Hi games. Small and big blinds are put forward and everyone receives 5 hidden hole cards. After an initial betting round that starts with the player seated to the left of the big blind, the flop, turn, and river are dealt (3 cards, 1 card, and 1 card, respectively) with a separate round of betting after each street. Any players still in the hand after the river betting round go to “showdown,” where they turn their cards face-up and the pot is awarded to the best 5-card hand (consisting exactly of 2 hole cards and 3 community cards).

Pros icon Pros: If you like making big, strong hands, this game is for you! With an additional hole card added into the mix for each player (vs regular Omaha), this will help create loads of action at the table!

Cons iconCons: Because of the naturally more aggressive nature of Omaha (and with hands of higher strengths being able to be achieved more frequently), the swings will be much greater. As such, you not only have to have a bigger bankroll to be able to play, but also a strong mental attitude to be unaffected through the knee-buckling variance.

Now that you’ve discovered 5-Card Omaha, learn how to really play it.


This poker variant falls under the “draw” and “Lowball” poker families. However, Badugi is quite unique compared to other poker games because of the hand ranking system that it uses to determine the best hand. As such, being adept in another form of poker doesn’t necessarily crossover as easily when it comes to understanding Badugi.

fire icon Popularity:  3/10 – Originating in the 1980’s, Badugi is still a relatively newer form of poker. Since its introduction, it has never picked up the same notoriety as the more popularised forms of poker, However,it is still played in select online poker rooms and home games. If found in a large tournament series, usually it’s included in a “mixed” event with other forms of poker

book icon Ease of Learning: 3/10 – Because the hand ranking system of Badugi is unlike other Lowball poker games, it does take a bit of getting used to. Firstly, 4 cards are used for the hand rankings, unlike the traditional 5. Additionally, suits do matter in this game! (You want to have all 4 cards in different suits, if possible.) It’s also essential to note that straights do not count against the low hand in this game, and that Aces always play as a low card! The objective is to try to make the lowest possible“Badugi” (which, by definition, is 4 unpaired cards in different suits).

Hands are ranked from the highest card downward (i.e. 6h-5s-4c-2d would beat 7h-3s-2c-Ad). If players have the same high card, then the second card is used to determine the lowest hand (and so on, and so forth). If players have a pair in their hand or multiple cards in the same suit, then only one of the cards of the pair would be used and/orthe highest card(s) of the same suit would be discounted. This, in turn, would make a hand like A-A-A-2 essentially a “two-card hand” as per the ranking system (A-2) and a hand like As-2s-3s-4s a “one-card hand” (As).

Any 3-card hand would lose to any Badugi, but it would still beat any two- or one-card hands, in addition to some three-card, as well.In this game, the best possible hand would be A-2-3-4 in different suits, making the worst hand K-K-K-K.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Play starts with small and big blinds being put forward respectively by the players seated to the left of the button. After everyone is dealt 4 cards, the player to the left of the big blind starts the first betting round with either a call, raise, or fold. Remaining players then proceed through 3 ensuing rounds of “draws” with a betting round after each draw.They may choose to discard anywhere between 0 and 4 cards when drawing, in an attempt to improve their Lowball hand.If any players remain in the hand after the final betting round, a showdown is reached and the player with the lowest hand wins.

Pros icon ProsGameplay for each hand occurs just as it does in 2-7 Triple Draw (Lowball), so if you’re familiar with this poker variant, you’ll be very familiar with how things will work in Badugi.

Cons icon Cons: Because the hand ranking system of Badugi is unique and dissimilar to other popular forms of poker, it will undoubtedly take a bit of time to adjust. Additionally, with this being a form of draw poker, you have no added information on the strength of your opponents’ hands. Therefore, you’re likely to be in the dark as to how your hand fares relative to theirs before showdown is reached.

Get to know all the little nuances in playing Badugi.


Instead of being its own separate variant of poker, HORSE is an acronym that includes 5 different poker variants: Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz (Stud Lo), Stud (Stud Hi), and Eight-or-Better (Stud Hi/Lo).

HORSE will most often be played in high stakes live games, in addition to select, prominent tournament series, like the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

fire iconPopularity:  5/10 – Mixed games like HORSE are often played in live settings in higher stakes games, in an attempt to level out the playing field. The premise is not to allow single-game specialists to run over the table as they might otherwise. Mixed games, such as HORSE, also serve as an ultimate test of one’s true poker ability by combining multiple variants (which require different skills in various areas for each) into one poker game.

book icon Ease of Learning: 2/10 –HORSE puts together 5 different variants of poker (across three primary game types of Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud). Therefore, it’s going to be a little bit more complicated to learn and become good at all of the included game types versus any individual one.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Each game variant played follows its normal game play rules. Specific to HORSE, it must be noted that all games are played as Fixed Limit, with the same stake/structure used across each variant. The games are played in order (i.e. Hold’em first, then Omaha, then Razz, etc.) and flip to the next game after each orbit of play.

Pros icon ProsPlaying a mixed game like HORSE eliminates the monotony and routine of only playing one game type again and again and again.Therefore, it can create for a more enjoyable poker experience, allowing players to play and try different forms of the game, all in one sitting.

Cons icon Cons: HORSE would be bad for single-game specialists because it levels out the playing field by including the other games. Additionally, to stay afloat, one would have to learn and develop skills across a variety of poker games.

Find out how to play HORSE games the right way.


Razz is a form of Stud Poker where players try to make the lowest hand possible. In the ranking system for this game, straights and flushes do not count against a low hand being made. Additionally, Aces count as low in this game, meaning the lowest/best hand possible would be A-2-3-4-5.

fire icon Popularity: 3/10 – Razz is occasionally played as its own dedicated game type, but is most frequently included in mixed games, such as HORSE.

book icon Ease of Learning: 7/10 –It’s very easy to identify what the lowest possible 5-card hand would be from the 7 cards that a player has available. (Players would simply look for the lowest, unpaired cards in their hand). Therefore, Razz is relatively easy to play.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Gameplay in Razz proceeds very similarly to normal Stud Poker:All players start by putting forward an ante. After this, everyone receives two face-down cards, along with one card dealt face-up. Opposite to Stud, the player with the highest face-up card in Razz acts first, making either a small “bring-in” bet or a complete bet of the smaller increment of the game. After this, the betting round continues in a clockwise direction.

Remaining players are then dealt another face-up card. The player with the lowest (strongest) combination of exposed cards is first to act and can check or make a bet of the smaller increment used in the game. After this betting round concludes, Fifth Street and Sixth Street both ensue, with one additional face-up card being dealt per street. The player with the lowest/best exposed cards acts first in both of these betting rounds.

Additionally, the betting increment used during these later streets is the larger one used in the game. For the seventh and ultimate street, each player receives one last card face-down, at which point they can determine their lowest 5-card hand. After a final betting round, showdown is reached and the player with the lowest hand wins.

Pros icon Pros: With Razz being a game of a limit structure, bets and raises are more streamlined, making it easier to know what action to take, Bet sizing won’t be a consideration. Also, unlike other Lowball-type games (like in draw), it’s nice to be able to see some of your opponent’s cards to get a sense as to how your low hand may compare.

Cons icon Cons: If you enjoy trying to make the highest hand possible, then the “lowball” aspect of Razz will certainly be a con for you. Additionally, in Razz, it can be more difficult to determine what your ultimate “low” hand will be until the later streets (In a “high hand” game, you only need 2 cards to make a pair, which can then still further improve. In a “lowball” game, it’ll feel like you’ll need to see atleast 5cards that are low and/or ideally unpaired before knowing how to proceed.).As such, it’s easy to be curious and want to get to 7th street more often than you should, which will likely create a dent in your poker profits.

Learn all you’ll ever need to know to play Razz poker games.

Chinese Poker

Chinese poker is very different to other variants of poker, as it doesn’t follow any of the more traditional game patterns. That said, it is still a beginner-friendly game, and the biggest prerequisite is simply having a good knowledge of the basic poker hand rankings.

fire iconPopularity: 3/10 – Chinese poker isn’t the most popular form of poker, by any means, but it is still played on occasion. Its peak was arguably during the mid-1990’s, where there were WSOP events in 1995 and 1996. However, since then, there have been no Chinese Poker events hosted at the WSOP.

book icon Ease of Learning: 4/10 –Chinese Poker is quite an easy game to play. But it can get more complicated with understanding the different scoring systems and in deciding whether or not “royalties” (bonus points) – and if so, which ones – will be used in the game. In essence, as mentioned previously, the biggest prerequisite is in understanding the normal hand ranking system that’s used in poker.Beyond this, the more you get exposed to the scoring system, the more adept you’ll become at using it and tallying up the points.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: It should be noted that Chinese poker is usually played with 4 players total but can also accommodate between only 2 or 3 players.Each player is dealt 13 cards and must then divvy up their cards into 3 hands of various strengths: (1) their best 5-card hand; (2) a middle strength hand of 5 cards; and (3) their weakest hand that consists of 3 cards. After this, players ultimately show their high, middle, and weakest hands in order.

The player who wins each “hand” (by having the highest hand for each category relative to their opponent(s)) collects one “unit” of wagering from each losing opponent. (Therefore, instead of a winner-take-all format like most other poker games, you can still win a little in each hand, even if you’re not the big winner – e.g. you win 1 of the 3 “hands”!) In addition to this basic scoring, normally there are additional bonuses if you win 2 of the 3 hands or even all 3 of them!It should be noted that if all of your hands are either straights or flushes, you win the entire round of hands outright! However, this must be declared to other players before “showing down” your 3 hands to each other.

Pros icon ProsAs the format allows for a good possibility of unlikely outcomes, luck often plays a big role in the results of this game in the short-term. This factor is great for beginners, as it still allows them to have a good chance of winning.

Cons icon Cons: Even if you get good at how you distribute your cards between your 3 hands, it can be difficult to have or develop a significant long-term edge over your opponents, simply because of the amount of luck involved.

Discover the ins and outs of playing Chinese Poker games.

Short Deck

Short deck is an extremely fun variant of Hold’em that’s become a staple in high-stakes cash games and tournament series in very recent years. Hand rankings in this poker game are different slightly than in traditional games (with flushes now beating full houses), and for good reason: 2’s through 5’s have been removed from the deck! Therefore, the game is played with just 36 playing cards (hence the name).

With fewer cards, players have better chances of making some sort of made hand but must also be wary that this applies to the he strength of their opponents’ hands too! With less cards comes higher variance and the chances of making stronger hands more frequently

fire iconPopularity: 7/10 – With big poker series and media coverage of the high-stakes games that have been played in China in recent years, Short Deck has surged in popularity! While it’s still not yet a standard game being played in many card rooms or online poker rooms, it is undoubtedly an attractive and fun form of poker.

book icon Ease of Learning: 6/10 – The game of Short Deck is relatively straight forward to learn. If you’ve played Hold’em, you’ll have an easier time picking up this game than if you’re new to poker altogether. (Just be sure to remember the different hand ranking rules!) In terms of learning strategy for Short Deck, as it is a relatively new game in today’s poker world, there’s not that much that’s been written or shared on the topic regarding strategy. Therefore, this fact makes this game slightly more difficult to learn how to play profitably. That said, if you take the time to develop your own winning strategy just as the game is coming to the surface, being a pioneer of sorts in this variant could lead to large potential profits.

Gameplay icon Gameplay: Unlikely normal Hold’em, Short Deck is typically played as an ante game. All players place forward an ante to start, which helps to build the main pot. The player on the button places forth an additional ante, which will be used for the first preflop round of betting. Action starts with the player to the left of the button, and players may either call, raise, or fold vs this button ante. After the preflop betting round, postflop play continues just like Hold’em, with a flop, turn and river being dealt (3 community cards, followed by another and then a final community card) with betting rounds after each.

During these betting rounds, action starts with first remaining player seated to the left of the button. If, after the final betting round, there are multiple players remaining, a showdown is reached and the player with the highest hand wins the pot. Note that Short Deck is usually played as a no-limit game, meaning players can go all-in at any point in time.

Pros icon Pros: Action is thrilling in this game, as there are greater chances of being able to make a hand or being dealt a playable starting hand (with the 2’s through 5’s having been removed). An additional pro is that players are usually able to “go south” (take money off the table) after they’ve surpassed a certain minimum required threshold, which will help lessen the extent (even if to a nominal degree) of the variance that a player may incur in this game.

Cons icon Cons: While Short Deck is still a form of Hold’em and shares much of the same gameplay with traditional NLHE, many of the strategies used in Short Deck (i.e. odds and outs, value of pairs, etc.) will be different from what players are accustomed to in NLHE. Additionally, equities in Short Deck will run much closer together than in normal Hold’em(because of the removed cards from the deck). This fact will in turn create larger swings and variance for players.

Find out what’s really involved in playing Short Deck poker games properly.


That’s right – Pineapple isn’t just a tropical fruit; it’s also the name for a type of poker game! While this variant hasn’t caught on to be as popular as some of the more commonly played forms of poker, it’s still undoubtedly easy-to-play and easy-to-learn. This fact is especially if you already know how to play regular Texas Hold’em!

Never having been played in a WSOP event, the heyday for this game has come in some small EPT events.

fire iconPopularity:  3/10 – While Pineapple is almost identical to Hold’em with one slight twist on the number of hole cards originally received, it’s never gained quite as much popularity as other forms of poker. It’s more commonly a poker variant that’s played as a cash game in private home games than in casinos. 

It does carry more action with it, though, than in regular Hold’em. Starting hands will be marginally better than the Cadillac of poker, with the addition of a 3rd preflop hole card.

book icon Ease of Learning: 7/10 - If you are already familiar with Hold’em, this rating will be more like 10 out of 10! However, adjusting strategically for the slight variation of being dealt three hole cards instead of the traditional two might throw players off a bit. It will become easier for all players to have a starting hand that they’re happy with playing, (or at the very least, a better one than usual).

Gameplay icon Gameplay: 7/10 - If you are already familiar with Hold’em, this rating will be more like 10 out of 10! However, adjusting strategically for the slight variation of being dealt three hole cards instead of the traditional two might throw players off a bit. It will become easier for all players to have a starting hand that they’re happy with playing, (or at the very least, a better one than usual).

Pros icon Pros: Pineapple can be more entertaining to play than Texas Hold’em because by being dealt an extra hole card at the beginning, you’ll have a higher likelihood of being dealt a strong/playable starting hand. This factor, in turn, means that you’ll be more frequently involved in pots, assuming you keep the same starting hand requirements as in Hold’em.

Cons icon Cons: Correctly adjusting strategically for this slight alteration between Pineapple and Hold’em can be difficult. Players will be dealt “playable” hands at a higher frequency, meaning more players will want to get involved. You’ll find yourself getting involved in more multi-way pots and also being “outkicked” and dominated more frequently at showdown than in traditional Hold’em.

Matthew Cluff is a poker player who specialises in 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games. He also periodically provides online poker content for various sites.