The Most Popular Poker Games at Online Casinos

When people think of poker, they probably think of Texas Hold’em, the most popular variant. But many would be surprised to learn that there are dozens of other variants out there enjoyed by millions of players every day.

While online casinos may have different payment methods, like paysafecard casinos for Ontario players, the following poker variants are available almost anywhere you can gamble. This quick guide won’t go over the basics of the game and assumes you have some knowledge of the general rules of poker to begin with. If table games are your thing, try out one of these the next time you feel the need to test your luck.

Texas Hold’em

The epitome of poker, Texas Hold’em is the most popular format and is played by millions of people worldwide. Just like how some people make a living being pro gamers, there are even people who live solely off their winnings from Texas Hold’em. The rules are fairly straightforward, and if you’re already familiar with the basics of poker, such as hand rankings and betting, you’ll catch on quickly. 

Players are each dealt two cards, face down from a single deck. Players look at their hole cards and then go around the table, either making a bet, raising, calling, folding, or checking. After that, the dealer burns a single card and reveals three from the deck, face up in the center of the table. These are community cards and are used in combination with your hole cards to make the best 5-card hand. Players then go around the table and again call, bet, raise, fold or check. This is repeated two more times, however, with only one card being added to the community cards instead of three, for a total of five community cards in the center of the table. After the final card (the river) is revealed, if two or more players are left and have both either checked or called the other’s bet, they reveal their hands and determine who wins the pot.

Short Deck

Short Deck is a similar format as Texas Hold’em but follows a slightly different ruleset. While the style of play is the same, with players each receiving two cards from the dealer face down and five community cards being shown during the round, the deck is not the same. While Texas Hold’em uses all 52 cards, Short Deck (as the name implies) only uses 36 cards. 

The deck does not have any 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s. Aces still make straights on the low and high side with A-6-7-8-9 and 10-J-Q-K-A. Hand rankings also change due to the difference in odds when it comes to making a full house versus something like a flush. In this variant, a full house is not the fourth strongest hand and is instead relegated to the fifth strongest. A flush moves up one ranking and takes the original place of a full house. This can cause a lot of confusion for new players, especially when they think they’ve got the nuts and wind up losing. Keep the new hand rankings in mind and you’ll have no problem adapting anything you learned for Texas Hold’em to Short Deck.

Pot Limit Omaha

Another crowd favourite at online casinos, Pot Limit Omaha, often referred to as PLO, is another variant that is similar in style to Texas Hold’em. As with Short Deck, PLO follows the same rules of play, but instead of two cards being dealt to a player, they are dealt four. Players still only use five cards to make a hand and have to use two cards from their four to make a hand—no more, no less. This can lead to a lot of interesting situations that new players are unfamiliar with.

In Texas Hold’em, the worst hand is 7-2 offsuit. In PLO, the worst starting hand is four-of-a-kind. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Remember that you can only use two of the four cards. This means that if you start with four 2s, you actually only have a pair. This also means that your hand cannot improve (for the most part) because the other 2s are in your hand. You won’t be able to make a triple, and any other hand, such as a straight or flush, is nearly impossible. Most players immediately fold a four-of-a-kind in PLO for that reason. 

The only other major difference in PLO is that you can never bet more than the pot. As a quick example, in a $1/$2 PLO, the round starts with a small blind ($1) and a big blind ($2). If the player to your right calls the big blind ($2), the most you can raise is $7. This is because the maximum pot is $1 + $2 + $2 + your call ($2). It sounds confusing, but you manage to do the math quickly in your head after a few rounds.

Five-Card Draw

Another common variant in online video poker and home games, Five-Card Draw, is as simple as it gets. Here’s how to play; players are dealt five cards, choose how many they wish to discard, are given new cards, and then place bets on their hands. Normal poker rankings apply. As you can see, it’s quite simple but can be just as fun as Texas Hold’em or any other variant.

It’s harder to find in person at casinos, but you’ll commonly see it online in virtual poker games. In those cases, you’ll either play against the dealer or receive some sort of payout depending on the ranking of the hand you manage to make. There’s not much else to Five-Card Draw, meaning it’s a great starting place for someone looking to learn hand rankings and dip their foot into the world of online poker.