Different Types of Poker Games to Enjoy With Friends

Dominic Field

Nov 19, 2022

A royal flush hand in a game of five card poker

There are many different types of poker games other than Texas Hold’em. Many new players get into the game by watching tournaments on television or live streaming. And naturally, these events tend to be No Limit Hold’em games. But the truth is, there are dozens of fun, interesting and completely unique poker games.

In this article, we’re going to teach you some of the less commonly known types of poker.

Alternative Poker Variants

If your friends are inviting you over for a “game of poker”, you’d better clarify exactly what they’re talking about. Sure, it might be your standard home game of Texas Hold’em. But it could just as easily involve draw poker or even a mixture of several poker games.

Here are some of the weirder and more wonderful poker variants you might encounter.

H3: Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker - 13 CardsThis is one of the simplest types of poker games for beginners to understand. All players are dealt 13 cards. These must be arranged into a “top” hand of three cards, plus a “middle” and “back” hand of five cards each. The back, or bottom hand, must be stronger than the middle hand, while the three-card hand must be the weakest.

The usual poker hand ranking system applies in Chinese Poker. Since the top hand only has three cards, it can only be worth three of a kind, a pair or a high card. Once everyone is happy with their hands, they are compared one at a time. The player with the highest hand earns a point. Since this card game requires three hands, the maximum possible score per hand is three points. 

As is often the case, different types of poker games usually have house rules. In Chinese, for example, winning all three points is known as a “scoop”. Some players may award a bonus whenever you manage to scoop. Also, it’s common to be penalised for playing an invalid hand by your opponent automatically scooping.

Five Card Draw

You might be vaguely familiar with the Five-Card Draw, even if you’ve never played it properly. Popular games such as strip poker are based upon this game and, as the name suggests, players receive five cards each. However, unlike Hold’em and Omaha, there are no community cards.

Instead, you must simply bet based on the strength of your initial starting hand. After the first betting round is completed, you have the option to discard some or all of your hand. If you throw three cards away, for instance, you’ll receive three more from the dealer. Whether or not you choose to draw, your hand will always be hidden from your opponents.

There are three betting rounds in total, assuming nobody folds, after which the hands are revealed. The usual poker rankings apply.

Interestingly, the “Dead Man’s Hand” of Aces and Eights is named after the cards said to be held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot. They were playing five card draw which, at that time, was the most popular form of poker.

Omaha Hi-Lo

Unless you’re a complete newcomer, you’re probably familiar with the different types of poker games which make up the Omaha family. Traditionally, players receive four hole cards each, before seeing five community cards similar to Hold’em. However, the twist is that you must use two of the four to make a hand.

With Omaha Hi-Lo, you are actually playing two different hands in one. Along with the usual high hand, the pot is effectively split in half, with the best “low” hand also winning a share. A qualifying low must be 8 high or lower, while straights and flushes do not count against you. So the best possible low would be 5-4-3-2-A, which is a five high low.

Omaha Hi-Low is usually played as a pot limit game, though you may see the occasional fixed or no-limit tables.


If you enjoy playing lots of different types of poker games, then you’re sure to love HORSE. The name comes from the fact that five different games are rolled into one:

  • Hold’em

  • Omaha Hi-Lo

  • Razz

  • Seven Card Stud

  • Eight or Better (Seven Stud Hi-Lo)

In a HORSE tournament, the game will change at the end of a fixed period of time, as the blinds increase. But there are other ways to enjoy mixed poker games, such as Dealer’s Choice. In that type of event, whoever has the dealer button in front of them can select the game for that particular hand.

If you’ve never heard of Razz before, it’s a seven-card stud game where only low hands count. A Royal Flush will be of no use to you here since only hands of 8 high or lower will play! Seven Stud Hi-Lo works much the same as Omaha Hi-Lo, except you’re playing Seven Card stud for the two different pots.

H3: Pineapple

Three of a kind hole cardsThis is one of the many types of poker games that are designed to create action. Each player receives three hole cards, to begin with. But before the betting begins, you must choose one to discard.

From that point, the game plays out similarly to Omaha and Hold’em. There’s a flop of three cards, a turn, and a river, with a betting round after each. Naturally, the best poker hand at the showdown wins the pot. Or alternatively, if you can force everyone else to fold, you’ll win too.

A variation of this game is called “Crazy Pineapple”, where you hold onto all three cards until the turn. Only then do you discard.

Russian Poker and Open Face Chinese

There is some confusion about the term “Russian Poker”. In America, they sometimes refer to Chinese as Russian Poker, more specifically Open Face Chinese. But for the most part, it’s a casino game played against the house rather than other opponents. 

Open Face Chinese is believed to have evolved in Finland, before spreading to the Russian high-stakes community in the 2000s. The game follows a similar set of rules to regular Chinese. However, players can see each other's cards and they form their hands one card at a time.

In the casino game called Russian Poker, the number of cards received is just five, as opposed to 13. It has similarities to Caribbean Stud, in that you place an ante before receiving your hand. Since the game is played against the house, you only need to beat the dealer. But you have several options available to you:

  • Fold: Give up your ante and play the next hand.

  • Bet: Continue if you’re happy with your hand, by betting twice the ante amount. You’ll then wait for the showdown to see whether or not you beat the dealer.

  • Re-draw: You can discard as many as five cards from your hand by paying the price of the ante a second time. You’ll then have the choice of folding or betting.

  • Buy an extra card: By paying the same value as the ante, you can take the sixth card. After receiving this, you will decide whether to fold or continue.


Unlike most types of poker games, Badugi doesn’t require you to make a five-card hand. Instead, players receive just four cards and the aim is to make the best possible Badugi hand.

After receiving your initial hand, there is a series of betting rounds in which you may discard and draw new cards. As a form of lowball poker, the object is to form as low of a Badugi hand as possible. A Badugi contains four different ranks and four different suits, such as 4♥️-3♠️-2♣️-A♦️, which would be the best possible hand.

If you cannot make a true Badugi, you can still play a three-card or two-card Badugi. Naturally, a four-card hand beats a three-card hand and both beat a two-card Badugi hand. An example of a three-card Badugi would be 2♣️-3♠️-6♦️-8♦️, which reduces to 2♣️-3♠️-6♦️.


Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the different types of poker games. Even if you specialise in just one or two forms of poker, playing new poker variations is never a bad thing. First of all, it can be a great way to blow off steam if you’re having a bad run. And trying new poker games is also good for keeping your mind sharp when you get stuck in a rut.

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