Poker Virgins: Start Here!

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There are three types of poker: community card games (Hold'em and Omaha), stud games (five- and seven-card stud) and draw poker. These are the (very) basic principles of each:


Texas Hold'em

Hold'em has become the undisputed king of all poker games and is the one played most on television, the internet and in tournaments. In the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the winner of the main hold'em event ($10,000 buy-in) is crowned world poker champion.

In hold'em, each player is dealt two concealed or 'hole' cards. Five community cards are dealt on the table. The first three are known as 'the flop', the fourth is 'the turn', the fifth is 'the river'. All players make their best five-card hand from a combination of their hidden cards and the shared cards. They can use one, two or none of their hidden cards.


Similar to hold'em, but with two differences. Firstly, each player is dealt four concealed cards, not two. Secondly, a player must use two from his hand and three from the community cards (unlike hold'em where the number of hidden cards you can use is unrestricted). Otherwise, there are five community cards in the same flop, turn, river format. This game involves more action, as you have more cards to choose from, but remains less popular than hold'em.

Omaha hi-lo

This is an Omaha variant where you play both a normal ('high') hand and a 'low' hand. A low hand is the worst five-card hand you can muster from the nine on offer.

If, for example, you had Ah, 2h, 3h, 3d in your hand and the community cards were 3c, 10h, 10d, 4c, 6d, your high hand would be a full house of 3h, 3d, 3c, 10h, 10d and your low hand would be Ah, 2h, 3c, 4c, 6d. Both, of course, are very strong hands.

If you win the high and someone else wins the low hand, the pot is split. The only other unique rule is that a low hand does not qualify if the lowest card is higher than 8, so you must have three cards of 8 or lower on the community cards (without pairs) to have any low hand at all. If there is no low hand, then all the money goes to the high hand.

All in all, Omaha hi-lo is not the easiest game for novices to grasp!


Five-card stud

Here, each person is dealt one card down and one card up to begin. After each round of betting, a player gets another card face-up until they have one hidden and four exposed cards. This is a game where you get to see each other's hand except for the one hidden card. The best five-card hand wins.

Seven-card stud

Each player is dealt two cards down and one card up. After each round of betting, each player gets another card face up, until the seventh card which arrives face down. Players end up with four exposed cards and three hidden, and make their best five-card hand from the seven.

Seven-card stud hi-lo

Exactly the same as seven card stud, but with a high and a low hand from seven cards. The rules for the hi-lo are the same as for Omaha hi-lo: 8 or lower to qualify as a low hand, and the pot is split if one has the high and one the low.


Each player gets five hidden cards. They bet, then are allowed to change a number of cards (usually up to three or four). They bet again before showing their cards. There is a variation of this where cards may be changed twice.

If you want more in-depth explanations of the numerous poker variants, there are many good books available. Try R Harroch's Poker For Dummies Poker for Dummies (For Dummies, £14.99)



We are grateful for this article to Inside Poker Magazine.


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