1.) Texas Hold’em
The current king of all poker variations is a must appear in the top slot. Televised poker tournaments has made this variation of poker the most popular in the world and it doesn’t matter whether it be Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit or the No Limit variety, each one is king and the most commonly called variety in dealer’s choice home games.
How to play: If you don’t know, you shouldn’t be playing poker, but the game is a community card variation with two cards dealt face down to each player. There is a betting round after the first two cards followed by a flop of three cards. Players bet after the flop and after both the turn and the river, two community cards dealt face up. Once the river is dealt, there is one last betting round before player’s showdown with the best five-card poker hand declared the winner.
This classic game of poker chicken is exciting for its showdowns and its bluffing. There are literally endless variations to this one game, but the most common version pits players against each other with three cards a piece. Straights are better than flushes and for added fun, add a pass element to the game or a draw; it will induce more betting and more bluffing action. Because all losing players must match the pot, this game can get crazy, especially if your home game is filled with action junkies.
How to play: Players are dealt three cards facedown after anteing a pre-determined amount. Players then must decide if they want to play the hand depending on their hand’s strength, or their willingness to bluff. Players then extend their cards towards the middle facedown while the dealer counts one, two, three – guts. On the guts counts, players can either drop their hands (fold) or hold them up to advance to the showdown. The highest three card hand remaining in the game wins the entire pot with each of the losing hands having to pay the entire pot as a penalty. The game continues until one player is the only one holding up their hand for a showdown, thus winning the remaining pot with no additional monies being added.
3.) Midnight baseball
Similar to Seven-Card No Peek, Midnight Baseball is a face down card game where a player’s hand is exposed one at a time. Only in this version, threes and nines are wild and players can buy and extra card for a pre-determined amount when a four is exposed. Variations of this game are played with seven and nine cards, but for the true baseball experience and more betting – go with the nine-card version. For added fun, make the purchase of an extra card with an exposed four mandatory.
How to play: Players are dealt seven or nine cards face down and are not allowed to look at the cards until it is their turn to expose them. The dealer flips over one card for the person to his or her left to beat. The next player must beat the exposed card and can bet once he or she does so. The next player must beat the first player and so on. Remember, threes and nines are wild and there is a buying option on any exposed four. The best five-card poker hand wins the massive pot.
4.) Chinese poker
The king of the Casino City office game is Chinese Poker. This popular variation is also prevalent amongst the professionals where stakes can sometimes escalate to thousands of dollars a point. At most major tournament series’, Chinese Poker is popular among the busted professionals and is played both in the poker halls and late night in hotel rooms. We at Casino City used Chinese Poker to decide which person got first pick of the cubicles (and yes, I did win the most luxurious space). For added fun, add a round of Badugi to the action.
How to play: Players are dealt 13 cards face down. The player then must organize his or her cards into three hands (two five card hands and one three card hand). The top hand (one of the five card hands) must be the player’s strongest hand, followed in strength by the middle hand (the second five card hand) and then the three card hand. Players then face off against each other to see who wins. Top hands are pitted against top hands and the same goes for each subsequent hand. A player wins a point for each hand won, plus a bonus point for winning the best of three match-up for a possible total of four points. Betting stakes are per point, meaning if you’re playing $5 a point, the maximum possible win per round is $20.
5.) Five-card draw
It’s hard to beat a classic. Mike Caro, the Mad Genius of Poker, once called this game the best variation for understanding poker psychology. Call for this variation when your home game needs to get back to its roots and enjoy playing the game that introduced almost every single player to the game of poker. For added fun, toss in a wild card of a second draw to induce more betting.
How to play: Players are dealt five cards face down. Betting starts to the left of the dealer and one round of betting occurs before the first draw. Players then discard unwanted cards to receive new cards from the deck. It is only possible to draw four cards if a player is willing to expose their Ace in most versions, thus, the most a player can draw without an Ace is three cards. After the draw, another round of betting occurs and the hand is won with the best five-card poker hand at the showdown.
6.) Seven-card no-peek
Another great action game, Seven-card no peek is similar to Seven-Card Stud except all the cards are dealt face down. If a player peeks at his or her cards before the action starts, the person is immediately disqualified and a round of insults is a necessary follow. Saying “no peeksies” is surely game for ridicule, but only you will be left laughing when you rake in of the massive pots this game induces. For added fun, throw in a wild card or two and watch players squirm as you expose your five of a kind.
How to play: Players are dealt seven cards face down and one card is exposed for the first player to bet. Action starts to the dealer’s left. This player flips over cards one at a time until he beats the exposed card. Once this is done, the player has the option to bet. The next player must then beat the first player and so on. Hand ranking is based on the best five-card poker hand and all players must match any bets to continue, even if they haven’t seen any of their cards. The highest five-card left standing after all the non-folded hands are exposed wins the pot.
7.) Four-up, three-down (Seven-Card Stud)
Seven-Card Stud is a great home game variation because of the betting action. With five rounds of betting, this variation can induce more action than typical rounds of Texas Hold’em and Five-Card draw combined. It’s called four-up, three down because that’s how it’s played, but calling it that also introduces a new level of cool for those who deal the game with an auctioneer’s style.
How to play: Players are dealt two hole cards and then one card face up. A round of betting follows with the highest card showing initiating the action. Players receive three more cards face up (one at a time) with a round of betting following each card and the highest exposed hand initiating the betting. The last card is dealt face down and is followed by another round of betting. Once the betting is completed, players showdown with the best five-card poker hand possible.
Another game gaining in popularity is Badugi, a version of lowball where suits play a major role. The object of this game is to make the best four-card low hand, but pairs and similar suits count against you. There is also three draws to this game, making it a haven for suckers and gold mine for people who understand how to play a made hand.
How to play: Players are dealt four cards face down to start. The best possible hand is A-2-3-4 of different suits. Pairs and similar suits count against a player and if no one has a Badugi (four non-paired cards of different suits) then the best three cards low hand wins, followed by best two cards hand (ect…). There are three draws with bets after each round. The best low hand at the showdown wins the pot.
9.) Crazy Pineapple
You can start playing this variation because of its excellent name, but you’ll end up playing it for its awesome betting action. Similar to Texas Hold’em, Crazy Pineapple is a community card game that starts with three cards rather than two, thus increasing the likelihood of several made hands betting like crazy at each other. This variation is becoming popular at the casinos as well, most likely due to people being sick of playing just Texas Hold’em.
How to play: All players are dealt three cards to start and one round of betting is completed in the dark. After a flop of three cards, players must discard one of their three hole cards to continue betting. Like Texas Hold’em, there are community turn and river cards with a round of betting after each. The most common version of this game is played with betting limits.
10.) Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw
If you’re the only player in your home game who knows how to play this poker variation, then why not introduce it to your friends and take their hard earned money? Deuce-to-seven, one of the most popular poker variations amongst the poker professionals, is gold to those who understand its nuances and poison to those who are allured by the draw. With multiple betting rounds, the action gets heavy and the multiple draws makes for many rounds of fun-filled pots (and major suck outs).
How to play: Each player is dealt five cards. This is a lowball game, but remember, Aces are high. The best possible low hand is 2-3-4-5-7, because pesky flushes and straights count against you. A betting round occurs after the first five cards then each player is allowed to draw to a better hand or stay pat, depending on their strategy. Players can draw up to three times with betting after each draw. A player must match the last bet before drawing and after the last bets are complete, players showdown with the lowest possible hand being declared the winner of the pot.