The name poker is thrown around like it refers to a single game. But in reality, poker is a loose collection of individual variants that can have quite big differences in the way they’re played.
Of course, all versions share some similarities, including the mechanic of blinds and placing wagers in rounds, as well as the use of bluffing to win even when you don’t have a strong hand. But it’s where these games diverge that makes individual poker variants stand out from the others.
For example, lowball poker switches the order of hand rankings, making traditionally poor combinations worth more than those that would normally be winners. Meanwhile, draw games can sometimes allow players to replace cards in their hands, something that most other variants wouldn’t permit.
So with so many different variants to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming for beginners to know which poker variant they should play first. Of course, many jump straight into Texas Hold’em since it is the most popular choice, but are there better options for people looking to find their feet in the world of poker?
Texas Hold’em is the world’s favourite poker variant for good reason. It uses the standard hand rankings, so it’s easy to pick up the basics. But it also features hole and community cards, creating a lot of opportunities for advanced players to use different strategies and techniques.
This means that many players can start out learning one variant and never need to switch to a different one.
Not only that but because it is the most commonly-found variant, there are disproportionately more resources and guides that help beginners learn Texas Holdem rules than you’d find for any other version of poker.
Before Texas hold’em took the world by storm, five-card draw was the most popular poker variant. It’s very similar to other “draw” variants, but this is a better choice for beginners as it’s more common.
Five-card draw uses no community cards. Instead, each player receives their own entire hand as hole cards. Unlike other variants, players can replace their cards after the first betting round, giving them chance to improve what they’re holding.
The benefit of five-card draw for beginners is that it’s easier to only think about your own hand, without having to do complicated calculations about what other players might be holding. Of course, this limits what strategies you can deploy but that may not be a bad thing for beginners.
Seven-card stud sits somewhere between Texas hold’em and five-card draw. There are no community cards, but each player has part of their hand dealt face-up, revealing a portion of it to their opponents.
This variant also has multiple rounds of both betting and dealing, with three cards handed out to each player first, until a maximum of seven. Players then need to make a five-card hand from the seven they have been dealt.
Seven-card stud is a good option for beginners as players still only have to think about making their hand from their own cards but the upcards get them thinking about what their opponents may have too.