Around the world, people have been experiencing difficult times for about two years now. There haven’t been too many silver linings, but one has been that we’ve had some time to pick up new hobbies –– including, for many, learning various fun card games to pass the time with during prolonged isolation.
A lot of these games are pretty simple. For those interested in a somewhat more involved pursuit, however, our ongoing isolation (even if it’s lightened up a bit) also makes for an opportunity to really hone in on the game of poker.
While there are quite a few variants of this game that is said to be played by more than 100 million people worldwide, the good news is that you only have to learn the basics to get started. This will mean learning the common terms, memorizing how to value different combinations of cards, and ultimately studying how to calculate the odds in different scenarios that can arise in any given poker game. There’s plenty more to work on beyond these basic skills. But once you have gotten the basics down, you’ll have the foundation you need to dive into the different game varieties –– which means you’ll have all the more ways to stay entertained at home.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular poker variants to help you decide where to focus your energy and go “all-in.”
1. Texas Hold’em
This is the most popular version of poker globally, and the one often seen in the movies. The goal of the game is to construct the best possible five-card hand. To begin with however, each player is dealt just two “hole” cards.
Following this initial dealing, the game takes place over three rounds. First, three “community” cards are dealt face-up onto the table for all the players to use (simultaneously) to start to construct their hands. Then, a fourth community card called “the turn” is dealt with, and subsequently the fifth, known as “the river.” Players have the opportunity to place bets (or fold) in between these rounds, but those who stay in must then make the best possible hand out of the two cards they hold and any combination of the five community cards.
This is another popular variety, which has similar traits to Texas Hold’em. There are four rounds, but in this case, four hole cards are dealt at the outset (as opposed to the two in Hold’em). Then the five community cards are dealt at once, with players then choosing two of their four hole cards and three from the table to make up their (hopefully) winning hands.
3. 7-Card Stud
The stud was originally the most common form of poker, before the sensational rise of Texas Hold’em. It’s different from the others in that each player receives a hand in full, rather than just hole cards to combine with community offerings. Three cards are dealt to begin with –– two face down and one (the “door card”) face up. Players are then dealt fourth (“4th street”), fifth (“5th street”), and sixth (“6th street”) cards face up, and seventh (“river”) face down. There are betting rounds and opportunities to fold in between these steps, and in the end, the players remain face-off with the best five-cards hands they can make out of their seven total cards each.
4. 5-Card Draw
In 5-card draw, players are again given individual hands, though all of the cards are dealt face down. After a betting round (often with a lot of bluffing), players then have the opportunity to get rid of some of their cards and take in new ones. That’s more or less all there is to it, making this arguably the simplest form of poker –– but still a popular one.
5. Chinese Poker
There is actually a version of this game that plays out a little bit more like a version of Hearts than poker. But the Chinese Poker that poker players know is a game that up to four people can play, with each player being dealt 13 cards. Each player then sorts those 13 cards into three hands: the middle and back (five cards each) and the front (three cards). Players can then elect to stay in the game, at which stage points are awarded according to whether a given hand beats its counterparts at the table. It’s certainly a different sort of poker game, but one a lot of people enjoy once they get the hang of it.
So there you have them! Five fantastic poker games for you to try if you’re looking to offer something a little different when it comes to your next game night.