Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the games that pretty much every poker player knows, and both variants are far more popular than anything else these days. However, that should not discourage you from playing or at least trying other different poker games online.
Quite the contrary; you can have so much fun playing less popular poker variants! You might even fall in love with these games just like I did. So, without further ado, here are three awesome poker variants that I recommend you try playing.
If you’re purely a Hold’em or Omaha player, Razz is quite a different game from what you are used to seeing. With that said, it does have a steadily growing player base. Importantly, there are no community cards in Razz; everyone plays his/her own hand. In terms of how the cards are dealt, the game is very similar to 7-Card Stud.
At the start of the hand, each player is dealt two face-down cards and one face-up. After a betting round, three more face-up cards are dealt to each player remaining in the hand (one at a time), with additional betting rounds after each street. A seventh, final card is dealt to each remaining player face-down, followed by a final betting round. By the end of the hand, each player remaining will see four of their opponents’ seven cards.
In my opinion, what makes Razz so awesome is that the winner of each hand is actually the player with the worst possible combination, not the best one, as in most other poker variants. Moreover, in this game, straights and flushes do not count against you. Thus, the best possible Razz hand is A 2 3 4 5.
So, when playing Razz, you’re aiming to avoid pairs and instead trying to catch the lowest possible cards. This “new approach” to poker is certainly an adjustment for seasoned Hold’em/Omaha players (all of a sudden, you’ll be upset, instead of happy, when you pair up), but there’s still plenty of skill involved in Razz.
2-7 Triple Draw Lowball
As the name suggests, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball is a draw poker game. You’re likely familiar with the classic 5-Card Draw, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Gameplay is relatively simple. Everyone is dealt five cards face-down, and betting starts just like in any Texas Hold’em game. After the first betting round, each player who is still in hand can discard any amount of cards and drew new ones, or “stand pat” by keeping all his/her cards. There are three drawing rounds in total, and there’s a round of betting after each. Thus, you have three chances to draw new cards and improve your hand, but you’ll usually “have to pay” for the opportunity.
Much like Razz, the lowest possible combination wins in this game as well. However, in 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, straights and flushes do count against you. So if you’ve got 3 4 5 6 7, you’ve actually got a very weak hand and must draw to improve. Another crucial thing to remember about this game is that aces only play high, with twos being the lowest card. In other words, if you’re dealt an ace, get rid of it!
The game’s rules thus make 2 3 4 5 7 the best possible combination; hence the game’s name.
Irish Poker is chock full of action This will probably be the easiest variant for you to pick up from the ones presented in this article, as it’s very similar to Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Actually, some would say that it takes the best features of both games and combines them into one.
In Irish Poker you are dealt four cards, just like in Omaha. Play begins like any flop game, with a betting round. What makes Irish Poker unique is what happens after the flop. Once you see the community cards, you have to muck two hole cards from your original four. Thereafter, play continues like in Texas Hold’em. As each player starts out with four cards, that means holdings will usually be a lot better among the remaining players after the flop. You won’t be sitting there “bored” and waiting for pocket aces; rather there’s likely going to be tons of action.
With so much action in Irish Poker, the game practically guarantees a good time. While you likely won’t find this game available in a live poker room or even at the best online poker real money sites, it will be a great addition to your home games with friends. Just try it, and I am confident you will start developing more of a taste for the game with each new hand you play.
As you see, there are plenty of poker games you can play besides Hold’em and Omaha while still ensuring you’ll have fun at the table. In general, it’s always good to be up for trying new poker games. Beyond having a good time playing them, you’ll also learn new things about poker that may end up helping you in your “main” games of Hold’em and Omaha. Have fun, and good luck!