What are the Most Popular Poker Variations?

Published April 6, 2019

The popular card game known as Poker has a long, yet elusive history. In modern times, most people are most familiar with the Texas Hold’em variation, particularly in U.S. casinos and tournaments. However, Poker itself can be traced as far back as the early 18th century, spreading along the Mississippi River region of the United States.

This early form of Poker itself had a number of variations – one variant, common in 1829 New Orleans, used a deck of only 20 cards. The cards were dealt between two players, with bettors gambling on which player had the best hand value. The etymology of the word Poker itself is also debated. Some say it comes from French poque, which has roots in German pochen. Others say it is from Irish Pocah – in any case, modern Poker doesn’t really resemble these historical card games. But card games certainly evolve over time, so the history of Poker can really be attributed to the culmination of thousands of years of card games.

In this article, we’re going to explore the most popular poker games in modern times:

Texas Hold’em

This is the most common form of Poker, so much that it has become synonymous with Poker itself. It started in Texas in the early 1900s, as mentioned earlier, but was introduced to Las Vegas gambling in 1963. While remaining in relative obscurity for a few years, it really took off at the 1970 World Series of Poker. Since then, it has become the de-facto Poker game.

Texas Hold’em is a highly strategic Poker game, as it relies on careful odds predictions and careful, controlled betting. While Hollywood films have shown Poker to be a “bluffing” game, where players win huge jackpots for fooling opponents, this actually has very little basis in real-life Texas Hold’em strategy. In fact, “bluffing” regularly in real-life is a fast way to lose a lot of money.

Texas Hold’em uses a standard 52-card deck, with the Jokers removed. It is played between 2 – 10 players, though occasionally you may see a larger game than this, but only in very special exceptions – such as two tables being combined in a tournament.

Pot-Limit Omaha

While Omaha Hold’em is a popular Poker variant in U.S. casinos, played similarly to Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha is more commonly played in Europe. However, it’s also available in many online casinos, and some U.S. casinos offer it in high-stakes “mixed” games.


In this Poker game, the variances are increased a bit, and players don’t “bleed” as much money during preflop. Basically, in no-limit Texas Hold’em, it’s very easy for a player on a late-game win streak to begin dictating the pot, forcing other players to sit out of hands and slowly bleed money. In Pot-Limit Omaha, this factor is severely reduced, and even late-game joiners can make a profit. For this reason, Pot-Limit Omaha is seen as a great alternative to Texas Hold’em for beginner Poker players, because it’s a lot more forgiving (bankroll wise) on sitting out hands.

There are several variants on Pot-Limit Omaha, such as Five-card Omaha, Six-card Omaha, and Courchevel.

7 Card Stud

While Texas Hold’em is the most popular modern Poker game, 7 Card Stud was the Poker game of choice for a much longer time in history. It was most popular throughout the 1900s, being the most popular casino Poker game until it was displaced by Texas Hold’em. However, 7 Card Stud remains a staple of the casino industry, and nearly all casinos, physical or online, offer it for play.


Popular variations of 7 Card Stud include 5 Card Stud, and Stud Hi Lo.


Chinese Poker

This poker variant can trace its history back to the ancient Chinese card game Pai Gow. Chinese poker was modeled on Pai Gow and introduced to American casinos in the early 19th century. It is intended as one of, if not the easiest Poker game for a beginner to understand. In fact, casino dealers are likely to help you set up your hands if you simply ask.

In standard Chinese Poker, each player receives 13 cards from a 52-card deck. The players then organize their cards into 3 separate hands, and reveal each hand throughout the gameplay. While it’s quite simple, some casinos do offer high-stakes Chinese Poker.

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