Overview of Poker Games

Texas Hold ‘Em

This internationally renowned game is played without an ante but employs two blind bets, a Small-Blind and a Big-Blind, determined by the stakes of the game. These are posted before any cards are dealt, hence the term Blinds.

In the casino version of the game, a disc called the “button” or the “puck” is used to designate the dealer and moves clockwise after each hand to the next player. The Small Blind is posted by the player to the dealer’s left which is usually half of the minimum bet. The player to the left of the Small Blind posts the Big Blind equal to the minimum bet.

Two cards are dealt face down to each player (the “hole cards”) and the person to the left of the Big Blind starts the first round of betting. During the first round of betting players have the option to fold, call, or raise. If a player does not like his hand, he may fold and not participate any further in the hand. If a player wants to contest the pot they must either call or raise. In order to call, a player must place an amount equal to the last bet into the pot. A player may wish to raise the last bet by an additional amount, which players will have to call in order to stay in. If the Blinds want to participate in the hand they have to add enough chips to their Blind to call (if there were no raises the Big Blind may check, since he already has enough money in the pot to match the last bet). The Blinds also have the option of raising.

Once the first round of betting is completed, the first three community cards are dealt face up on the board (the flop). The second and all subsequent rounds of betting begin with the player to the dealer’s left and the players have the same options as above, but they may check if there has been no previous betting. If a player places a bet, anyone who wants to continue to participate in the hand must call. After the second round of betting is complete, the dealer places one card face up beside the other three community cards. This card is called the “turn” or “4th street”. Another round of betting ensues, which in limit games has a minimum bet of double the minimum on the previous rounds. After this a fifth and final card is added to the board called the “river” or “5th street” and a final round of betting takes place.

Once the final round of betting is over, the players who have not folded turn over their cards and the best hand made with any combination of the five community cards and the player’s two hole cards, wins the pot. If two players have ostensibly the same hand, for example a pair of nines, the next highest card in the player’s hand or “kicker” is used to break the tie. Occasionally there can be a situation where two players have exactly the same hand, i.e. where the best five card hand is exactly the same for both of them. In this case the pot is split between them.

Types of Hold’em games:

Limit

Limit games have fixed betting amounts. For example, a $5/$10 limit game would have a small blind of $2.50, a large blind of $5 and the first two rounds of betting would be in units of $5. The last two betting rounds would have units of $10.

No-Limit

In no-limit games the maximum bet for a player is determined by the number of chips in front of them. Usually, the blinds are a set amount and the minimum bet at any time is the amount of the Big Blind. A player may go “all-in” by pushing all of their chips into the center, and if this is less than the previous bet, they will contest the pot for an amount equal to the bets of the other players up to their all-in amount. Amounts bet in excess of a player’s all-in will go into one or more side pots.

Pot-Limit

This type of hold’em is similar to No-limit except that the maximum bet at any time is determined by the number of chips currently in the pot.

Omaha

The play in Omaha is similar to that of Texas Hold ‘Em. In Omaha, however, the players each receive four cards rather than two. A player must use two cards from their hand and three from the board to create a hand. The most common versions of Omaha are limit and pot-limit.

Omaha High/Low (also known as Omaha eight or better):

This game is similar to Omaha High, except that if a low hand is possible, the high and the low hands split the pot. A low hand is five different cards from the A through the 8. The lowest possible hand is A,2,3,4,5. In order for there to be the possibility of a low hand there must be three different denominations of cards 8 or below on the board, so that together with two from the player’s hand a low is possible.

7 Card Stud

In Stud Poker each player is dealt a hand with some cards face-down (“in-the-hole”) and some face-up that other players can see. Typical 7-card stud begins with 2 cards dealt face-down with 1 face-up before the first betting round followed by 3 more face-up cards, each followed by a round of betting and one final card face down with a final betting round. Players use 5 of their 7 cards to make their final hand.

Usually all players are required to contribute an ante (often 10 to 25% of the lower betting limit) before any cards are dealt. In a limit game the first two rounds of betting are at the lower level and the betting after the 5th, 6th and 7th cards is at the higher level.

The first round of betting starts with a forced bet by the lowest upcard taking suits into account. This bet is called the “bring-in”, and they may bet either the minimum bring-in (half the lower betting limit) or the limit for that round. If the initial action was a bet of half the lower betting limit and another play “completes the bet” by betting the full amount, this does not constitute a raise. If a three raise rule is used, three more raises will be allowed.

On subsequent betting rounds, the high hand showing initiates the betting. A tie is broken by the hand who received cards first taking the first action. After the second upcard is dealt (4th street) if a pair is showing, any player may bet either the lower or upper limit. For example in a $10/$20 game, the player with a pair showing has the option of betting $10 or $20. If $10 is bet, any player has the option to call $10, raise $10 or raise $20. If a raise of $20 is made, all other raises must be in increments of $20. If the original player checks, then all other players have the same options.

7 Card Stud High-Low:

A High-Low game refers to one in which the pot is split between the highest and lowest valued hands. In order to qualify a low hand must have five different cards no higher than an 8. The best low hand has the lowest high card. If there is a tie on the high card, the winner is the player whose next highest card is the lowest, and so on.

Omaha High/Low (also known as Omaha eight or better):

This game is similar to Omaha High, except that if a low hand is possible, the high and the low hands split the pot. A low hand is five different cards from the A through the 8. The lowest possible hand is A,2,3,4,5. In order for there to be the possibility of a low hand there must be three different denominations of cards 8 or below on the board, so that together with two from the player’s hand a low is possible.

Crazy Pineapple:

This is a variation of Hold’em where the players are dealt three cards and after the second betting round the players discard one of the cards from their hand.