From Pai Gow to Omaha: The Best Poker Variants out There

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The timeless appeal of poker means that it had already been a popular game across the world for centuries before reaching the US and gaining massive popularity. Yet, this widespread appeal has also led to a number of variants appearing in different countries over the years.

Many of these intriguing card games are hugely popular and well-known but there are others that perhaps you have never heard of before.

If you love the classic appeal of this game but also like the idea of a fresh approach then the following are some of the best poker variants to consider playing. Don’t forget that you can win or lose a lot of money at poker depending upon the variant that you choose but most importantly, your overall skills.

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow is an ancient Chinese game that is traditionally played using a set of dominoes. However, in the West people tend to be more familiar with the off-shoot that is known as Pai Gow Poker and is based on this original game.

Pai Gow Poker began life in the mid-1980s, when it was invented in a casino in Los Angeles. This card game can now be found in many online casinos and has proved to be popular with card players looking for something different. In recent years, online casinos have also started offering Pai Gow Poker, contributing to the game's popularity. Online options allow some players who prefer to practise at home rather than in a land-based casino to do so. Pai Gow Poker is also sometimes known as double-hand poker. Up to six players try to beat the banker by creating two poker hands out of a 7-card hand that is better than the banker’s hand. They also need their five-card hand to beat their two-card hand.

This makes it a fascinating alternative to classic poker that is great for giving seasoned players something different to think about.

Texas Hold'em

Possibly the most widely played version of poker at the moment, the origins of Texas Hold’em aren’t as clear as is the case with Pai Gow Poker. However, Robstown in Texas is officially regarded as being the home of this game.

It was first played in the early 20th century and reached Las Vegas in the 1960s. In more recent times, the exposure that Texas Hold’em has received online has seen its popularity increase massively.

At the heart of this card game’s appeal is its simplicity and the need for a good strategy.  Each player gets two hold cards that are dealt face down, as well being able to choose from the five community cards that are face up and revealed in moves called the flop, the turn, and the river.

There are different betting rounds before the community cards are used and also after the final one has been dealt. Top players can win a fortune at major Texas Hold'em events.

Seven-Card Stud

Not too long ago, it was Seven-Card Stud rather than Texas Hold’em that was the most popular poker variant around. This is the game that generations of Americans played when they wanted a game of poker, particularly if they went to a land-based casino to play.

It is believed that Seven-Card Stud started out in the Midwest in the late 19th century. It is then thought that the US military helped to take it out to different corners of the planet with them.

Despite other types of card game now being more popular, Seven-Card Stud is still a terrific option that is easy to find online. With more strategy than most poker variants, this the game of choice for a lot of people who want a card game that they need to put some thought into.

The game begins with each player being dealt 2 face down cards and one that is face up, with the player who has the lowest face up card starting the betting. Each new card that is dealt leads to a new round of betting and the person who ends up with the best 5 card hand wins.


At first sight, the Omaha (sometimes called Omaha Hold’em) variation is very similar to Texas Hold'em. However, there are also some important differences that need to be taken into account.

This game evolved out of the original Omaha game of poker, combined with the community card aspect of Hold’em games. While its history is lost in the mists of time, we know that it first reached casinos in Las Vegas, when it was brought to the Golden Nugget Casino.

A notable difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is that there are four community cards instead of two, although only two of these cards are to be used.

H.O.R.S.E Poker

The name of this poker variation comes from the fact that it moves between a few of the main variants of the card game. H stands for Texas Hold’em, O is taken from Omaha Hi-Lo, R comes from Razz and S is from Seven-Card Stud, while the E comes from Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better.

The game cycles through these different poker variants and it is most commonly seen at the high stakes tables in land-based casinos, as well as in major poker tournaments. Given its nature, it is seen as being a game that tests players’ overall poker skill as well as their knowledge of different poker games.

It first appeared in the World Series of Poker in 2002 and the origins of this particular game aren’t very clear. For players, the key lies in having a well-rounded knowledge of poker and in approaching each phase of the game as though it were a self-contained game in its own right.

Irish Poker

Irish Poker is a version of the card game that you might not have heard of before now. It is a simple variant that has made an appearance at online casinos and poker rooms in recent years, with some online videos explaining helping newcomers to understand the rules, such as the one below.

This is a close relative of Texas Hold’em and of Omaha, with the idea being that it brings the best of both games in one package. Players begin with four hole cards, two of which need to be discarded after the flop is dealt and bet on.


This is a type of stud poker that sees the players get dealt seven cards, of which the first couple and the last one are all dealt face down. The biggest difference in this game when compared to other poker games is that the lowest hand wins in Razz.

This means that A-2-3-4-5 is the strongest hand, while pairs should be avoided. A very similar game played in Europe is called London Lowball.

There are a number of unique strategies that can be used in the Razz variation, while the chance to steal the antes and bring-in bets add to the excitement. Online playing has led to a big increase in the popularity of Razz, with this currently being the most popular online lowball poker game.


No matter how and where you play poker, there is a variant out there that is perfect for you. Why not try a few in order to find the one that best suits you? Be sure to avoid scams by choosing a reputable site and keeping your wits about you at all times.


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