The three most popular poker variants are spread in casinos and poker rooms worldwide and can be divided into the following groups:
* Draw poker: Games in which players are dealt a complete hand, hidden, and then improve it by replacing cards. The most common of these is Five-card draw.
* Stud poker: Games in which each player receives a combination of face-up cards and face-down cards in multiple betting rounds. The most common of these are Seven-card stud and Five-card stud.
* Community card poker: Games in which each player’s incomplete hidden hand is combined with shared face-up cards. The most common of these are Texas hold ‘em and Omaha hold ‘em.
Here are more common rule variations:
1. Lowball: The lowest hand wins the pot. There are different rules about whether or not aces count as low, and the effects of straights and flushes. The most common variants are Razz and 2-7 Triple Draw
2. High-low split: the highest and lowest hands split the pot. Generally there is a qualifier for the low hand. For example, the low hand must have 5 cards with ranks of 8 or less. In most high-low games the usual rank of poker hands is observed, so that an unsuited broken straight (7-5-4-3-2) wins low (see Morehead, Official Rules of Card Games). In a variant, based on Lowball, where only the low hand wins, a straight or a flush does not matter for a low hand. So the best low hand is 5-4-3-2-A, suited or not.
3. Players can pass cards to each other. An example of this would be Anaconda.
4. ‘Kill game’. When a fixed limit game is played and a player wins two pots in a row, the stakes are doubled. In some split-pot games (e.g., Omaha), a player winning both halves of the pot may also cause a kill. In some variants of Lowball, a player may choose to kill by placing a double bet after seeing his first two cards.
5. Wild cards are added. This can range from simply making deuces wild to the wild 7-stud variant of baseball.
6. A twist round in which players can buy another card from the deck. If a player does not like the purchased card, the player can purchase another one by adding money to the pot. This is sometimes called a “Tittle.”
7. A stripped deck may be used. Poker was first played with only 20 cards. In the spirit of poker history, players will sometimes only play with a stripped deck. A popular poker game in Spain is played with cards 8-A. It is played similar to hold’em, except that one card is dealt at a time and a player must use both hole cards.
8. A royal deck is where players uses two decks but only 48-56 cards. The playing deck is made up of the cards 9-A from both decks making the number of cards 48. In some variations of the game (typical for larger groups) the 8′s maybe also be included, making the total number of cards 56. Same rules as normal poker apply, though suit ranking may also be used since the probability that two players will have similar hands may increase with this variation.
9. The double flip variant (also known as doomsday and the jaws of victory) was introduced in pub/club games throughout Europe in recent years and was devised to keep inactive (‘busted out’) players in the mix, and therefore, in the pub or club. If players are heads-up (i.e. there are only 2 players left) in a tournament, and both players have the same ranked pocket pairs (e.g. both players have KK, or both players have 33 etc.) and if on the same hands, one of the players is all-in and called (or calls with his/her entire stack), then the double flip situation occurs. All players that were previously present on the table (and subsequent ‘busted out’) will be given a share of the pot (determined at the start of the game – usually the pot will just be split between the inactive players who are still present and the player who was all-in, with the chip-leading receiving no part of the pot; the unlucky heads-up players [the chances of both players having the same ranked pair is 1 in 20,825] receive nothing in this situation). Play then continues as per normal. The rule is common practice now in all pub/club games throughout Europe and is becoming more popular in North America.
10. Roll your own is played in stud games, and allows the player to determine which of his or her cards are turned up and visible to the other players. In a game like Seven-card Stud, the “roll” action only applies to the first 3 cards, all of which are dealt face down. Each player then determines which card to expose. Play then continues as with regular Seven-card Stud. But a game like Mexican Stud applies the roll option throughout the game. Two cards are dealt face down, and the players roll one card up. The game continues just as in Five-card Stud, except the cards are dealt face down, and each player then decides which of the two down cards is exposed. Whether cards are rolled in player order, or all at once, should be decided before the game begins, if not already dictated by the specific game’s rules, as there is an advantage to being able to see your opponents exposed cards before deciding which card you will roll.