There are five major games spread at most online poker rooms. These five games are Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High/Low. While there are other games that can be found, these are by far the most common.
Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular game. In Texas Hold’em, two blinds are posted. There is a small blind and a big blind. The big blind is usually double the size of the small blind, unless the big blind is an odd amount. If that is the case, the small blind will usually be slightly less. For example, if the big blind is $3, the small blind would usually be $1.
Once the blinds are posted, the small blind receives the first card off of the top of the deck. Cards are dealt clockwise from the small blind until all players have two cards. The player to the left of the big blind acts first. That player may call the big blind, raise, or fold. The action goes around the table until the big blind checks, or everyone has called any raises.
There is then a flop of three cards. The action starts with the small blind, or the player closest to the left of the small blind that still has cards. The first player may check or bet. All players with cards will have that option. If a player bets, players must fold, call, or raise. One more card is dealt, which is called the turn. The same type of action that is allowed on the flop is allowed on the turn. The final board card is dealt, called the river. The action is exactly the same as the turn. If two or more players are left with cards, the last player that bet shows cards. If no player bet the river, the player to the left of the dealer button shows their cards first. If at any point all players folded to a betting player, the hand ends, and the bettor wins the pot.
The game is dealt fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit. In fixed limit, there is a set amount allowed to bet on each street. In a $3/6 game, the flop would be $3 to call. A player could bet or raise $3 on the flop, and $6 on the turn and river. In pot limit, a player can raise the amount of the pot at any time. In no limit, a player can raise any amount that they have in their chip stack. Most Texas Hold’em tournaments are no limit, although there are a few lower buyin fixed limit and pot limit games.
Omaha is most commonly found as a pot limit game, although a few fixed limit and no limit games exist. Omaha, not to be confused with Omaha High/Low, is a high only game. The betting and dealing are exactly the same as Texas Hold’em. There are blinds posted, and a flop, turn, and river dealt. The differences between Texas Hold’em and Omaha are that in Omaha a player is dealt four cards. They must then use two cards, and only two cards, from their hand. The player combines these two cards with three cards from the board to make their best five card hand. The best starting hands in Omaha are high pairs, large suited cards, and four card runs. If a player gets dealt three or four of a kind, they should fold, as they can only use two of their cards.
Omaha High/Low is most often found as fixed limit or pot limit, although some no limit Omaha High/Low games exist. The difference between Omaha and Omaha High/Low is that there is a possibility of a split pot between a high and low hand. For there to be a low, there must be at least three cards in the board 8 or lower that do not pair the board. Aces can be played high or low. A player must use their two lowest cards 8 or lower to make a low. The best low hand is usually an ace and a two. If an ace is on the board, the best low hand is 23 assuming no two are three are on the board. If a two is on the board, the best low hand is an ace and a three assuming no ace or three is on the board. A low hand will appear about 50% of the time. Just because a low is possible does not mean a player will be able to make it. If no player can make a low, even if a low is possible, the high hand will win the entire pot.
A player may play a straight, flush, or straight flush both high and low. It is possible to win both high and low and win the entire pot. If two players tie for the best low, the low is split and each player will receive 25% of the pot, while the high hand will receive 50%. It is possible for several players to have the same low hand, and for it to get split between many players. Playing for just the low is not a good strategy, high hands still hold a premium, especially high hands including an ace and a low card.
Seven Card Stud
Seven Card Stud is nothing like Texas Hold’em or Omaha, although Texas Hold’em is vaguely based on Seven Card Stud. Seven card Stud is almost always dealt as fixed limit, although some European sites will offer the game in pot limit. In Seven Card Stud, players ante a set amount, typically one quarter of a small bet. In a $2/4 game, the ante would be $.50. Players are then dealt two cards down and one card up. The player with the lowest up card then posts what is called the bringin. The bringin is typically about one-third the size of a normal bet. In a $2/4 game, the bringin would be $.75. The bringin would also have the option of posting the full $2 bet if they wished. The action then goes clockwise from the bringin. If the low card player posted the bringin, in this example $.75, a player that wished to raise would complete the bet to $2. Once the bet is $2, raises would be in $2 increments. If there is a raise of the bringin, the bringin player has the option of calling or folding their bringin bet.
After all bets are called, a card is dealt up to all players. The bet starts with the best two card hand and the action moves clockwise from the high hand. If a player bets, the amount is $2. Raises on what is called fourth street are also $2. Once bets are called, another card is dealt face up called fifth street. The high hand acts first, and the bets and raises must be $4. After all bets are called, another up card is dealt, referred to as sixth street, and the betting is identical.
The seventh card, called seventh street, is dealt down, giving players four up cards and three down cards. The best four card hand showing starts the action. That player may bet $4 or check. Any bets must be $4, as are any raises. The player that bet last shows their hand first. If nobody bet on the last street, the high hand showing shows their hand first. If at any time during the hand all players fold to a betting player, the hand is over and the bettor wins the pot.
Seven Card Stud High/Low
Seven Card Stud High/Low is dealt exactly the same as Seven Card Stud. The only difference is that if a player makes a five card hand of 8 or lower, they will win half of the pot. If more than one player has an 8 or better low, the best low hand takes half of the pot. The high hand takes the other half. The low is determined by starting with the highest card, so a player with a five card low hand like 8-6-5-4-2 would lose to a player with 7-6-5-4-2. Similar low hands can go down to the lowest, last card to determine the winner. In some rare instances, two players will have the exact hand and split low, each getting one quarter of the pot.