We spent a large part of our poker career playing Hold’em, as many poker players did. This is a very simple game though and when you have enough bad beats, enough drop-outs, you get a little tired of the game. After all, playing a game for severe hours straight, sometimes as much as 10 or 15, and getting nothing out of it in the end, can be as little tiring.
That’s where we were so excited when we discovered OFC Poker, as excited as we had been back when we first started played OFC Poker. As much as we love OFC Poker though, we’re always on the lookout for new poker variants, and in the last year or so, we’ve played them all extensively. Because of that, we feel that we’re well placed to tell you the best ones.
So, excluding Chinese Poker and Hold’em, which are the best poker variants out there?
6. Three Card Poker
More commonly found on electronic machines and on the gambling floor, than in poker rooms and on poker software, three card poker has seen a resurgence in recent years. The player plays against the deal, both of whom receive three cards, after the player makes an ante bet. This is a fairly simply game, but the beauty lies in the quick turnover and the fact that a solid strategy and some sound poker knowledge can go a long way.
If you want the ultimate test of skill, then this is it. This is not so much a poker variant, as a combination of them. The beauty here is that you will play a handful of different poker games in one tournament, which means that balanced players are rewarded. The beauty of these tournaments is that whilst a particular player might be strong in one game, he could fall to pieces in the next. The trick is to be a jack of all trades.
The games involved in HORSE are Hold’em, Omaha High-Low, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Eights to Better. If you want a true test of skill, you can play eight game mixes, ten game mixes, twelve game mixes and even thirteen game mixes, but excluding the addition of Badugi, which we will discuss shortly, HORSE has all of the variety that you need for a true test of skill.
4. Real Estate
This is a unique and somewhat strange game that we have only played a couple of times and are told is only available in a handful of casinos int he deep south of the US. The player is dealt a single card, with three more laid face down in the middle of the table. Each of these cards is given a value by the dealer, before two more are placed. This is far from an easy game to just pickup and play, but there is a lot of fun to be had here and if you have some time on your hands, we would recommend giving it a go.
3. Omaha Pot Limit
Omaha is the second most popular poker variant currently available. It doesn’t get as much attention as Texas Hold’em, but for every 1,000 players jumping into a Hold’em tournament, you’ll get about 100 in an Omaha tournament. This game is at its most popular as Pot Limit, but it can be played in other forms.
Omaha uses a simile setup to Hold’em, only with four cards instead of two. There are five community cards and the goal is to make the best five card hand, but the difference here is that you have to use two of the cards in your hand and two of the cards on the table in front of you.
2. 5 Card Draw
This is far from a “rare” poker game, as this was the game played by Wild Bill and friends in the Old West. This is also the variant you will find on video poker machines, and the one that was commonly associated with the game of poker for many decades. However, it was never as popular as Texas Hold’em and these days it is almost non existent.
For us, there is no better way to combine skill, knowledge and patience. Hold’em relies a little too much on luck for our liking, and whilst bad beats and big letdowns are possible in 5 Card Draw, we feel that this variant is a little more forgiving in that regard. The only issue we have with 5 Card Draw, and the only reason it isn’y number 1 on this list, is that it’s a very slow and boring game when played heads-up.
We had heard of this game a couple of years before we tried it, as it just never seemed that appealing. However, as soon as we sat down to play a tournament, we were hooked. We’re not the only ones either, as there are many Badugi lovers out there in the poker world, including a number of poker professionals such as Daniel Negreanu.
Badugi is a very simple game, but one where skill is greatly rewarded. The goal of the game is to get a “Badugi” with your four cards. This is where you have a card from each suite. There are some important rules though, namely that you can’t have two cards of the same value and that the lower cards will also bat the higher ones. therefore, A, 2, 3, 4 of different suits will beat A, 3, 4, 5 of different suits, whereas the same hand with only three suits will lose to any hand that contains all four suits, regardless of their value. As in Draw games, you are allowed to change your cards in Badugi. You can do this three times, with a round of betting on each.
If you think that this sounds like your sort go thing, then head for Pokerstars, where you will find the best games of Badugi currently available. We have yet to find it elsewhere online, but if you know of a place feel free to get in touch. Badugi can be played Fixed Limit or No Limit, but we prefer the latter.