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Poker is an extensive subject. Though Texas Hold'em is the king of online poker, most card sites feature other popular games. The best US poker sites feature cash games, tournaments, and sit and go events with Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo. Some also Seven-Card Stud and Razz. Eventually, you'll want to try all of the poker games online, it's read our survey of the best poker card games in online card sites. 

Let's start with the poker game that dominates most live and online tournament play: Texas Hold'em. 

Texas Hold'em Poker

With the rise of World Series of Poker in 1970 and beyond, Texas Hold'em has become the most popular version of poker. It's the game played in the main event of the biggest poker tournaments around the globe, including the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

  • Texas Hold'em is a community card game where each player receives 2 hole cards, while the table receives 5 cards. The object is to build the best 5-card hand with any combination of the 7 available cards. 
  • Texas Hold'em has three popular varieties: no-limit, pot-limit, and fixed limit.
  • Whichever version you play, the game has four rounds of betting: pre-flop, on the flop, on the turn, and on the river. Each stage of betting comes with a changing set of calculations, opportunities, threats, and strategies. 
  • Once players receive their hole cards, the pre-flop round of betting occurs. Most tournaments have between 8 and 10 players at each table with 9 players standard in many WSOP tournaments.
  • Two players are required to bet each hand -- those who sit on the big blind and the small blind. The blinds drive betting while betting position has a major effect on pre-flop strategy. They rotate around the table with each hand, assuring that everyone must contribute to the pots. 
  • Once the pre-flop betting happens, the dealer deals the first three community cards (this is the flop). The flop provides 60% of the community card information in the hand, so it's a huge moment in each hand.
  • The second round of betting occurs after the flop. Once this happens, a fourth community card (the turn card) is dealt. Betting on the turn happens, and then a fifth community card is revealed (the river card). If two or more players remain in the hand, then a fourth and final round of betting occurs on the turn. 
  • If multiple players remain in the pot at this point, the showdown occurs. Players reveal their cards and bets are paid. It's time for another hand of Texas Hold'em. While this might sound simple, a cottage industry exists around Texas Hold'em strategy. 

The game is popular because of its combination of approachability and strategy. Texas Hold'em is easy to teach, easy to learn, and easy to play. Like chess, it's hard to master. Mix in a decent amount of human psychology and game theory and many consider Texas Hold'em the perfect poker game. 

Omaha Poker

Omaha Poker is a similar community card game that's played at most online sites and in most live poker tournaments worldwide. In fact, the best US online poker sites feature many ways to play Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo. 

  • Omaha Hold'em is quite similar to Texas Hold'em, but players receive 4 hole cards instead of 2 hole cards. They receive the same 5 community cards, which appear at the same time during the hand as in Texas Hold'em. 
  • Just like Texas Hold'em, the object of the game is to build the best 5-card hand using a combination of the hole cards and community cards.
  • One major difference exists: the 5-card hand must include 2 of the 4 hole cards and 3 of the 5 community cards. This is a rigid rule, which can cause confusion for new Omaha players who're used to playing Texas Hold'em. When figuring Omaha hands, it's easy to get excited about 3 strong hole cards (when only 2 matter) or 4 community cards. 
  • Also, because Omaha poker players receive 4 hole cards, winning hands tend to be stronger in Omaha than in Texas Hold'em. Players have many possibilities in building strong hands, so players must get used to dealing with stronger hands if they switch from Texas Hold'em to Omaha. Despite the similarities, the two games present much different challenges. 

Omaha Hi-Lo

A popular variant of Omaha Hold'em is Omaha Hi-Lo. In this game, half of the pot is tied to the highest hand, much like standard Omaha.

  • The other half of the pot is won by the lowest hand, so players must figure out the lowball possibilities when calculating pot odds. 
  • Players can use different hole cards for the high and low hands, which makes Omaha Hi-Lo a particularly complicated game when it comes to strategy. 
  • In many cases, the lowball pot must qualify. For instance, in Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8-or-Better, the lowball hand must not contain an 8 or higher in it. Thus, a hand that's 2-3-4-5-9 would not qualify. 
  • If no one has a hand that qualifies, the entire pot goes to the winner of the high hand. 

Non-Hold’em Games

No-Limit Hold’em has been referred to as the Cadillac of poker but every now and then you might feel more like cruising around in a ponderous but torquey Ford F150. That’s when some of the other games come into play.

Texas Hold’em, and to a lesser extent its four-card sibling Pot-Limit Omaha, gets all the attention but there are plenty of really fun poker games, many of which were popular long before Hold’em became an online sensation. We’ll provide a brief explanation of some of the most popular non-Hold’em games below.

Seven-Card Stud

Seven-Card Stud was actually the most popular poker game in the world prior to the rise of No-Limit Hold’em. It’s still one of the most popular games on the East Coast of the United States.

  • In Seven-Card Stud cards are dealt in a pre-arranged position with face down and face up cards.
  • Stud is almost always played with a limit structure and it utilizes a small ante and a bring-in instead of blinds.
  • The limits are described as small bet/big bet. For the first two rounds players are allowed to make small bets but from the third round on every bet must be a big bet.
  • Seven-Card Stud begins with every player getting dealt two cards facedown (sometimes referred to as the hole cards) and one card face up.
  • The player with the lowest face-up cards pays the bring-in and has the option of betting even more. Action then continues to the left of bring-in player and continues around the table with either calls, raises or folds.
  • At this point another card is dealt face-up and the player with the highest poker hand (of the face up cards) begins the betting round with action continuing to their left. Action continues like this until showdown.
  • In total there are five rounds of betting with four face-up cards and three face-down cards. The final card is always dealt facedown.
  • Unlike Hold’em suits matter in Seven-Card Stud and are used for tie-breakers (The suits are spades, hearts, diamonds and then clubs with clubs being the lowest).

Seven-Card Stud is a favorite of players who enjoy a slightly slower-paced game compared to Hold’em and don’t like being pushed off hands by huge over-bets.

Razz

Razz Poker is very similar to Seven-Card Stud except for the lowest hand always wins. This is referred to as a lowball variation of Seven-Card Stud. 

  • Instead of trying to get a royal flush, you’re actually aiming for 5-4-3-2-A (which is also known as the wheel).
  • It also means that you’re actively trying to avoid pairs and sets throughout a Razz hand. Straights and flushes do not count against a player for the low.
  • In Razz it’s the player with the highest card that pays the bring-in, which is the opposite of Seven-Card Stud.
  • In the following rounds it’s the player with the highest hand showing that begins the action. Suits also matter in Razz, except that you always want the worst suit. Thus the king of spades is the worst possible face-up card and always pays the bring-in.

Otherwise action in Razz is exactly like Seven-Card Stud with five rounds of betting that bring a total of three face-down cards and four face-up cards with the final card always being dealt facedown.

Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo

Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo combines the winning hands of Seven-Card Stud and Razz. It’s also sometimes referred as the rather-lengthy Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better.

  • It’s a split pot game where there is both a high and low pot. Most of the time the pot will be split between two players but every now and then a player will scoop the entire thing for maximum profit.
  • The game is otherwise identical to Seven-Card Stud and Razz except that you must have at least an eight-low to qualify for the low hand. That means if you have a your hand is nine-high then you do not qualify.
  • If there is no qualifying low hand then the high-hand takes the entire pot.
  • The river card can be very exciting for Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo players as it can make or break a potential scooping hand.

Five-Card Draw

If you were born before the year 2000 there’s a good chance your first introduction to the game of poker came via Five-Card Draw. The game is incredibly simple, which is why it's the first poker game many people play in home games. 

  • Every player is dealt five cards and a round of betting commences. If more than one player is still in the hand then the draw phase begins where players are allowed to discard cards they don’t want for fresh ones from the deck. One more round of betting commences and then players must show their hands.
  • Five-Card Draw isn’t very popular these days and there are a couple reasons why: 1. There are no visible cards so it’s not that interesting to spectators. 2. Deuce-to-seven (either triple draw or single draw) is generally considered the more interesting draw game.
  • There’s also Five-Card Stud (similar to Seven-Card Stud) but it’s not very popular either.

Many players are familiar with Five-Card Draw because it’s the basis for video poker, which can be found in nearly every casino around the world.

2-7 Triple Draw

Deuce-to-seven (or 2-7) triple draw is another lowball variant that differs from Razz because flushes and straights do count and it’s actually a five-card draw game.

  • Players start with five cards and the best hand in 2-7 is the rather odd-looking 2-3-4-5-7. It’s not straight because it’s missing the six and therefore the lowest possible hand.
  • Aces are always considered high in 2-7 so A-2-3-4-5 wouldn’t be considered a straight but rather ace-high.
  • 2-7 is actually a drawing game, like Five-Card Draw, where there are three different chances to draw (hence the “triple” draw)
  • Similar to Hold’em, 2-7 Triple Draw uses a blinds and there is both a small and big blind along with a dealer button. Action progresses like a Hold’em game. For the first round of betting the action begins on the left of the big blind while every subsequent round it starts to the left of the dealer.
  • The big decision in triple draw often comes down to either standing pat or drawing another card. The final draw can always bring about disaster so bluffing can play a substantial role in the game.

2-7 Triple Draw can be played with limit, pot-limit or even no-limit structures.

2-7 Single Draw

2-7 Single Draw, sometimes referred to as Kansas City Lowball, switches things up from it’s triple draw sibling by offering just just to draw. It’s also only ever played no-limit.

  • The hand rankings are the same and 2-3-4-5-7 is the best hand.
  • It’s considered one of the single most exciting draw games and is a favorite amongst pros. It’s also a good game for action-loving Hold’em fans who are looking for something new to play.
  • Because the game is No-Limit and there are only two rounds of betting it can lead to very exciting hands in a very short amount of time.
  • Don’t sleep on 2-7 Single Draw. It’s one of the best non-Hold’em games around.

H.O.R.S.E.

H.O.R.S.E. is a mixed poker game that combines five variants of poker in one. The five games are Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Eight-or-Better. In this case, the "E" in H.O.R.S.E. stands for "Eight or Better". 

  • Many consider mixed poker games to be the truest test of a player's talent and skill because players must excel at variants that aren't their specialty. Of all of the mixed games, H.O.R.S.E. was the first to gain mainstream favor among card players. 
  • A famous annual World Series of Poker event -- the $50,000 HORSE Championship -- is one of the most anticipated WSOP events each year. To win a HORSE event, a player must master five major variants of poker. The WSOP has added other mixed games over the years, but the original H.O.R.S.E. event comes with a trophy named for poker great Chip Reese, who won the event in its first year. 
  • In H.O.R.S.E., the game being played changes every time a single orbit around the table transpires. The game starts with a Texas Hold'em orbit, then an Omaha Hi orbit, then a Razz orbit, and so on. When you play live H.O.R.S.E. events, the dealer announces when the variant has changed. Also, a card shows what the current variant being played is. If you play H.O.R.S.E. online, the current game will be listed at the top of the table border. 
  • One other note: all of the variants are played as the Fixed Limit variant. This might present problems for players used to No-Limit Texas Hold'em because you'll be playing Fixed Limit Hold'em instead. That's the point, though. H.O.R.S.E. is a game where you prove you have the chops to win at a variety of games, even those that aren't your specialty. 

Different Types of Poker

This is a good start for players wanting to learn about the different types of poker they'll encounter in online cardrooms. You'll eventually come across all of the different types of poker card games online, but you now know about the most popular online poker games. 

Poker Games Online FAQ

What is the best online poker game?

That depends on a poker player's quirks and preferences. Texas Hold'em is the most popular online poker game. This has its advantages, because its give players more options. You can play online Texas Hold'em at more bet ranges and with bigger prize pools. You'll find more tournaments, ring games, and sit-and-go's for Texas Hold'em than anything else. 

Omaha is a good alternative for those who want something different. Omaha is a community card game like Texas Hold'em, though it's different enough to provide a different strategic challenge. With 4 hole cards, hands are stronger and players must calculate more possibilities. 

Seven-Card Stud is a game for players who like incremental betting and a slower pace of play. Razz is for similar players, but those who prefer to calculate lowball hands. All of these games have been popular for decades and thus have been proven with the test of time. 

What is the best free poker game?

Strangely enough, the best free poker games take place at real money online poker sites. As a promotional tool, sites allow players to test the poker software without making a deposit or spending cash. Thus, you're playing at the same virtual tables that real money card players bet at.

You can play Zynga poker or other social gaming poker games, but if you want an experience most like the real money games, play free online poker at an online cardroom. 
 

Can I play poker online for real money?

Yes. Card players can enjoy games at countless real money online poker sites. The key is finding trusted online cardrooms known for making fast and reliable payments. Read poker site reviews, create a player account, and make a deposit in your favorite cardroom. You'll be playing real money poker online in a matter of minutes. 

What's the status of legal online poker in the USA in 2022?

Six US states have regulated online poker at the moment: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Delaware, West Virginia, and Nevada. The other 44 US states and the District of Columbia all allow offshore online poker play. Residents in all 50 US states can play poker online without fear of prosecution or fines. 

Several differences exist between regulated and unregulated online poker. Playing at offshore online cardrooms means you won't have the consumer protections you would in regulated states, but you'll receive much larger poker bonuses. Keep in mind that most offshore poker sites are licensed and regulated in their home countries. The key is reading online poker reviews and playing only at trusted card sites. 
 

Which online poker sites are legit?

We consider online poker sites legit when they have a current reputation for fairness and safety, plus a longstanding tradition as a white hat operator. Online poker rooms must have good poker software, a variety of payment methods, good poker bonuses, a reputation for quick and reliable payouts, and an unblemished record for honesty.

Read reviews and player forums before making a deposit. Only play at honest online poker sites.
 

Are there any USA friendly poker sites that accept Bitcoin?

Yes. We recommend seven different US-friendly online poker sites that accept Bitcoin: Bovada Poker, Ignition Poker, BetOnline Poker, Blackchip Poker, America's Cardroom, Everygame Poker, and SportsBetting Poker. Each supports Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals, while most offer Bitcoin bonuses for new players. 
 

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