POKER

The Difference Between Poker and Texas Hold’em

By David Huber
June 25, 2023

Poker is a game that is enjoyed by millions around the world. Whether it’s a live cash game or an online tournament with thousands of opponents competing against each other, poker has something to offer almost anyone.

In recent decades, Texas Hold’em has maintained a literal strangle-hold on the market in terms of poker variant popularity. And while Texas Hold’em is of course “poker,” in this article we’re going to take a look at the difference between poker and Texas Hold’em for variants such as Omaha, 7-Card Stud, and Hi/Lo games.

poker vs. Texas Hold'em

Different Types of Poker Games

Despite the undeniable popularity of Texas Hold’em, there are other different types of poker games that you can find online or at your favorite land-based card room.

Omaha

Each player is dealt four cards face-down, and then there are five community cards that are dealt face-up just like in Texas Hold’em. There difference here is that players MUST form a 5-card hand that contains exactly three card from the community board and two cards from their own unique holdings.

Let’s suppose we’re playing Omaha, and the community board cards are: 3s-3h-3c-3d-2d.

In Texas Hold’em, the best possible hand for all players who remain in the post would be “Quad Threes,” and whoever holds an Ace is guaranteed to win or chop the pot. But this isn’t the case in Omaha.

Since you MUST use precisely three (no more and no less) cards from the community board to form your best possible Omaha hand – no player in the hypothetical hand posted above can have Four-of-a-Kind!

The best possible Omaha hand that can be made on a community card board of 3s-3h-3c-3d-2d is a Full House: Threes over Aces. This is because Omaha players MUST use precisely two (no more and no less) cards from their own unique holdings to form the best possible 5-card Omaha hand.

Player 1: As-Ah-8s-6d
Player 2: Ad-Kh-4d-5d
Player 3: Qd-Qh-Qs-Qh

At showdown, Player 1 will win this Omaha hand with the “nuts:” Full House: Threes over Aces.
Player 2 only has Three-of-a-Kind: Threes with Ace-King kickers.

This is a bit counterintuitive since having three hole cards that would typically form a 5-high Straight Flush (5d-4d-3d-2d-Ad). But since Player 2 is obligated to use three cards from the community board and two cards from his or her own hand, Player 2 loses at showdown against either Player 1 or Player 3.

Now let’s take a look at Player 3’s Omaha hand at showdown. Player 3 has a Full House: Threes over Queens. Again, Player 3 does NOT have “Quads” because only two hole cards can be used in Omaha to form the best 5-card hand.

So at showdown, here is how each player’s Omaha hand will be graded.

Player 1: 3-3-3-A-A (it doesn’t matter which “3” from the community board is omitted since no single “3” on the board has superior value over the others “3s.”
Player 2: 3-3-3-A-K
Player 3: 3-3-3-Q-Q

This is the big difference between Omaha poker and Texas Hold’em, as a Texas Hold’em community board of As-Ad-Ah-Ac-Ks would be a guaranteed chop for all players who are still in the hand at showdown. In Texas Hold’em, no two cards could possibly improve what is already displayed on the community board – which is Four-of-a-Kind: Aces with a King kicker.

However, in Omaha – a community board of As-Ad-Ah-Ac-Ks CAN be improved upon.

Player 1: Kd-Kh-7h-7s
Player 2: Kc-Qc-Jd-Td

Player 1 will win this hand at showdown with a Full House: Aces over Kings.
Player 2 will lose this hand at showdown with Three of a Kind: Aces with King and Queen kickers.

Again, one of the community board aces will be “omitted” at showdown because three cards are required from the community board to make the best possible Omaha hand. It won’t matter which Ace is excluded – it only matters that the Omaha board contains Three-of-a-King (as opposed to “Quads” in Texas Hold’em).

7-Card Stud

Hand rankings in 7-Card Stud are similar to Texas Hold’em. Each player can use ANY of the seven cards at showdown (three are face-down, and four are face-up – or “door cards”), but there is no restriction on how many face-down or face-up cards can be used to make the best 5-card hand.

But 7-Card Stud is unique to Texas Hold’em in terms of hand rankings because it is absolutely possible for two or more players to “tie” at showdown with a flush of a different suit.

In Texas Hold’em, two flushes of different suits are not possible.

Community Board (Texas Hold’em): As-Ts-9s-3d-2d

Although one or more players may make a Flush in Texas Hold’em, the ONLY suit that is possible for a Flush to be made is Spades.

Player 1: Ks-2s
Player 2: Qs-Js

Player 1 wins this Texas Hold’em hand with the “nuts” – which is a Spade Flush: A-K-T-9-2.
Player 2 loses this hand at showdown in Texas Holdem with a Spade Flush: A-Q-J-T-9.

Now let’s take a look at a sample 7-Card Stud hand.

Player 1: As-Ks ||Qs-Js-Ts-5s|| 4h
Player 2: Ad-Kd ||Qd-Jd-Td-9d|| 8d
Player 3: Ah-Qh ||Jh-Th-9h-8h|| Kc

In this 7-Card Stud scenario, Player 1 and Player 2 will “tie” at showdown and chop the pot with a Royal Flush.

Player 1 has a Royal Flush: Spades while Player 2 has a Royal Flush: Diamonds (no one suit is ranked higher or lower than another).

Player 3 loses at showdown with a Queen-high Straight Flush (Hearts): Q-J-T-9-8.

Hi/Lo Poker Games (Eight or Better)

If you’re on a budget and looking to play a poker game that’s quite a bit different from Texas Hold’em, you might want to try your luck at a “Limit” Hi/Lo poker variant. The most common Hi/Lo poker variants that are spread in live and online card rooms are Omaha Hi/Lo and 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo.

There’s nothing quite like a 9- or 10-handed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo ring game in which a bunch of players are staying in the hand all the way to showdown – and there can be plenty of instructional value to be had from participating in these games due to the “quarter” and “scoop” possibilities.

In Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo, you will have the best “high hand” and best “low hand” vying for their share of the pot at showdown. However, there is a catch… if no “low hand” is possible (meaning there is no possible 5-card “low” hand that can be made among 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A cards, then the hand will only have a “high” winner.

Here’s a look at an example Omaha Hi/Lo hand:

Community Cards: 7s-7h-7c-(9c)

Already on the Turn, we KNOW that there will be no possible “low” hand to be made at showdown. Since exactly three community cards and two hole cards must be used at showdown to form the best Omaha “high” and/or “low” hand, there is no scenario in which a “low” hand will be possible.

Player 1: As-2h-3h-4d
Player 2: Ad-7d-5h-5d
Player 3: Kc-Kh-Qc-Qh

In this hypothetical Omaha Hi/Lo hand, Player 1’s hopes of making a “Low” hand were demolished on the Turn.

Meanwhile, Player 3 may “think” that a Full House: Sevens over Kings is a strong “high” holding, but Player 3 is already beat (a.k.a. “drawing dead”) for the “high” Omaha hand that is being contested.

Player 2 has the best possible hand (regardless of what card is dealt on the “River”), with Four of a King: Sevens with an Ace Kicker.

But what if an Omaha Hi/Lo board DOES allow for the possibility of a “low” hand?

Community Board: 4d-5h-9h-Js-?

In this hand, players won’t know whether there will be a “low” Omaha hand until the River is dealt.

  • Player 1: Jc-Jd-Tc-Td
  • Player 2: As-Ad-2d-3s
  • Player 3: 5d-5c-4s-3d

As it stands on the Turn, Player 1 has the best “high” hand with Three of a Kind: Jacks with Nine Five kickers.

Player 2 has One Pair: Aces with Jack Nine Five kickers and Player 3 has Three of a Kind: Fives with Jack Nine kickers.

All three players can possibly improve their “high” hands depending on what River card is dealt.

  • The Jack of Hearts would give Player 1 Quad Jacks with a Ten kicker.
  • Any Ace, Two, or Three would give Player 2 a Five-high Straight. A Six on the River would give Player 2 a Six-high Straight.
  • The Five of Spades would give Player 3 Quad Fives. A Six on the River would likewise give Player 3 a Six-high Straight.

However, only Player 2 and Player 3 can make a “low” hand on the River (assuming the pending River card is an 8-7-6-3-2-A). A repeat, paired board River card of a 5 or a 4 won’t satisfy the requirements necessary for a “low” Omaha hand.

So let’s assume the River is dealt as follows: 4d-5h-9h-Js-Ac

  • Player 1 has Three of a Kind: Jacks with Ace Nine kickers and no competing “low” hand.
  • Player 2 has a “high” hand of a Five-high Straight: 5-4-3-2-A.
  • Player 3 now has a “high” hand of Three of a Kind: Fives with Ace Jack kickers.

So Player 2 wins the “high” Omaha hand outright and will be awarded half the total pot at showdown.

Now let’s take a look at the “low” Omaha hand.

  • Player 1 does not qualify for a “low” Omaha hand at showdown.
  • Player 2 has the best possible “low” Omaha hand with 5-4-3-2-A.
  • Player 3 does not qualify for a “low” Omaha hand because Player 3 only has one “low” card that is not counterfeited by the community board.

As a result, Player 2 will “scoop” the entire pot – outright winning half of the pot for having the best “high” Omaha hand while also taking down the other half of the pot with the best “low” hand.

The rules for 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo are similar when it comes to meeting the conditions for a “low” hand. However, 7-Card Stud players CAN use any amount of their hole cards and door cards to make the best 5-Card hand (unlike Omaha, in which two hole cards and three community cards must be used).

Learning Poker versus Texas Hold’em

Even though the game is primarily marketed through a single variant, there’s more to poker than just Texas Hold’em.

The next time you’re at a card room or looking for a game online, you might want to try out one of the other variants of poker that starkly contrast with Texas Hold’em. Aside from Omaha and 7-Card Stud, there are other poker variants such as Razz, Badugi, 5-Card Draw, 7-Card Stud, or other Mixed Poker Games that can be loads of fun (while also being very instructional).

Of course, if you’re seeking out a tournament that’s sure to draw thousands upon thousands of competitors, Texas Hold’em is your only choice. The same goes for instances in which you’re at a live card room and want to play immediately. More likely than not, the quickest seat available to you will be a Texas Hold’em game.

If you’re at a point in which you’d like to play poker variants (other than Texas Hold’em) seriously, there are plenty of poker training sites online that specialize in one or more poker variants. As with all poker games, there is an integral element of mathematics involved in variants such as 7-Card Stud and Omaha that will impact how to play correctly.

For example, 7-Card Stud poker players at showdown will each have four “door cards” that are showing face-up, which provides all the competitors at a specific table with the corresponding “known” information. In Omaha, the community cards are the only “known” information that is available to all players.

Play poker for both entertainment and instructional purposes and you’ll improve your own chances of having a positive experience at the tables over the course of your career.

To summarize, if you want to play the most popular poker game on the planet, then Texas Hold’em is where it’s at. But if you want to learn a different variant of poker such as 7-Card Stud, Omaha, Razz, or Badugi, that experience can be equally as fun (and informative) for new and veteran poker players alike!

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David Huber poker author
Written By.

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for close to two decades: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as “dhubermex” online, David’s poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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