So you think you know poker

If you play poker online, you probably think you know all about poker. Certainly, you’ve played five-card draw, either as a game with other players or as video poker. You’ve also probably played seven-card stud. If you’ve spent time in regular casinos, then you’ve probably played the table games – the ones that aren’t really poker.

Games like Caribbean Poker and Tricard Poker often annoy real poker players, since there's no bluffing and no interplay between the players. Some poker players will tolerate Pai Gow, since at least it has a little bit more strategy.

If you like Texas Hold'em, then you're familiar with terms like flop, turn, and river. But have you ever played the variety of other games like Omaha High, Omaha Hi-Low Split, Manila, Double-Flop Hold'em, and more? Omaha High isn't very different from Texas Hold'em. The rules are almost identical, but the strategy is completely different.

Preflop, in Texas Hold'em, players receive two hole cards. In Omaha High, players receive four cards. In some ways, this makes the chances of winning higher, but it raises everyone's chances, so it's a false gain. Additionally, you have to use exactly two of your hole cards and exactly three of the community cards to make your hand. That can be frustrating if you hold three of a kind or most of a straight or flush in your hand. On the other hand, it challenges you to think of a different type of game. In this game, almost every player will have a pair pretty much every hand. If there are three suited cards out there, it's fairly likely that someone has a flush. If there are three cards in a row, it's safe to assume that someone has a straight.

The challenges are incredible, but some players find even Omaha High too straightforward. As a result, they've added Omaha Hi-Low Split. In Omaha Hi-Low Split, having a low hand – one with all your cards under eight – can win you half the pot, while having the best poker hand can win you the other half. Since the hands can be different, sometimes you can win both halves of the pot. That's called scooping the pot. Omaha Hi-Low Split requires an entirely different strategy from Omaha High or from Texas Hold'em, so it adds a whole different dimension to the play.

Another game that's much less common than Omaha High or even Omaha Hi-Low split is Manila, also known as Seven-Up. Manila is played exactly like Texas Hold'em. The only difference is the deck of cards. Manila is played without the cards with the number values of 2-6. They call it Seven-Up, because the deck only has the cards from seven and up. Overall, the strategy isn't radically different, but a flush beats a full house in Manila, because it's simply much less likely to occur.

There are many other variants of poker out there, although most aren't available at online poker rooms. If you enjoy poker, though, you should learn about them.

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