The game of poker is one that has evolved over hundreds of years to become what we know today. First officially talked about in the memoirs of English actor Joseph Cowell, the game is said to have its roots firmly planted in New Orleans, Louisiana. At this time, 1829 to be exact, Cowell did not describe the game of poker in terms that we understand today. Instead, this primitive game saw a handful of players utilize a 20-card deck to distribute cards and subsequently bet on whose hand was the best. Some historians hold that poker’s roots stretch all the way back to the 16th century, but at this time the different games that eventually gave birth to poker were not referred to as poker.
From New Orleans to the rest of 19th century America, the game of poker was brought to new parts of the country via the ever popular Mississippi river boats of the day. Up the Mississippi and west the game spread until it was well-known by most every pioneer venturing westward. Shortly after the initial burst of attention received by the game of poker, it began being played with a 52-card deck.
Flash forward to the time of the Civil War, and this is when many variations, such as stud poker, came about for the first time. The concept of poker as a game utilizing community cards, however, did not come to be until roughly 25 years after the turn of the 20th century. Throughout much of the first parts of the 20th century, the game of poker reached a popularity plateau. It wasn’t until the 1970s and dawn of the World Series of Poker when the game really took off and became the national and global phenomenon that it is today. Now, almost every casino under the sun offers poker games of some type, and new-age online casinos allow you to play any variation of the game for real money without ever having to step foot outside your house. Because there are so many different poker variations, the next few sections will serve as a means of introducing you to this game that can take many different forms.
Texas Hold’em Poker
Texas Hold’em, though created after many of the other variations, is without a doubt the most popular version of poker played around the world. By utilizing the two hole cards which you are given by the dealer, you compete against other players in order to put together the best 5 card poker hand. In this game, up to 5 community cards will be able to be utilized by every player so long as they are still part of the hand.
Essentially, the goal of this game is to win as many hands as you can, stacking up money along the way. Unlike many other casino games, and also unlike some other poker games, Texas Hold’em is said to be a game of skill where someone who knows what they are doing will almost always (in the long run) best someone who does not. For this reason, studying the game and understanding what moves to make and when to make them becomes critical.
Omaha poker, despite what its name might imply, was founded around the budding resort casinos of Las Vegas, Nevada. Like Hold’em, this variation is played with anywhere from 2 to 10 players. Unlike Hold’em, this game sees every player awarded 4 hole cards to start, but in order to put together their best poker hand, only 2 of the 4 can be utilized.
Though there are many different betting structure in Omaha than there are in Hold’em, much of the basic gameplay holds true between the 2 games. There is a flop, a turn, and a river, and at the end of it all a showdown takes place to determine which remaining player(s) has the best poker hand.
While Omaha and Hold’em are very closely related, Razz Poker is not much like either of them. Traditionally, poker sees the person with the strongest hand walk away a winner, but with razz it is the player who boasts the weakest hand that is determined to be the winner. Also unlike most other poker variations is the fact that razz sees every player dealt 7 cards.
Razz is similar to other games of poker in that it is a 5-card hand that will determine the winner. Of the 7 cards dealt, a player can only use 5. This game type is growing in popularity as it is much easier to play than it would seem at first glance. Once you understand the rules (which admittedly can be quite confusing) this game flows quite smoothly.
HORSE Poker is a unique variation of the game because it involves the utilization of every other poker type. In fact, the game’s name is actually an acronym which can be explained by the games that make this variation up: Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better. What is unique about HORSE Poker is that it takes a well-structured knowledge of every poker type in order for you to be successful. That is, if you are an excellent Hold’em player, HORSE Poker may see you bleed money when it comes time to play the other game types.
This round-robin type of card game is loved by so many people because it evens the playing field out considerably. Unless you are very skilled at all 5 game types (which very few people are), you will have a hard time gaining a complete and total advantage over your opponents.
7 Card Stud
Regarded by many as the original poker game, 7 card stud remains as popular today as it was 100 years ago. With that being said, each year sees Hold’em infringe on this popularity more and more noticeably. What’s more, the game of stud is said to be much more of a skill game than Hold’em or any other variation, making it much more difficult to master.
7 card stud is played with anywhere from 2 to 8 people, and sees the winner of the most showdowns become the game’s overall victor. Because there are a bit more rules tied to this game than most other variations, it should come as no surprise that stud is one of the most difficult games for beginning players to pick up on.