Weird Variants of Poker You Should Be Playing

If you learned how to play poker after seeing it on television, you’re not alone. Millions of poker players around the world first found their favorite card game on the tube, almost all of them watching people play Texas Hold’em in major tournaments.

Poker is so much more than Hold’em, though — just ask anyone who grew up playing draw poker home games back in the day. They can tell you all about the wide, crazy world of poker games.

Here’s a look at some weird poker games and variants you should be playing. See if you can work them into the rotation next time you play in a dealer’s choice home game!

Pineapple

This is a good game to start with if you’re branching out from Hold’em because it plays very similarly to the world’s most popular poker variant. Everything in Pineapple is exactly the same as Hold’em except for one small difference: every player is dealt three hole cards instead of two.

Players choose one of these hole cards to discard, the first round of betting begins, and everything else proceeds as in a Hold’em game. If you were to discard after the flop instead of before the first round of betting, you’d be playing a vairant known as Crazy Pineapple.

Once you have a grasp of Pineapple, it’s time to move away from flop games…

Razz

Razz is easy to learn how to play because, at least in terms of mechanics, the game plays identically to seven-card stud.

It’s frustrating. It’s fun. It’s Razz.

Every player is dealt two cards face-down and a third card face-up to start. As the action continues, three more face-up cards are dealt to each player, and a final card is dealt face-down on seventh street.

The only difference is that instead of trying to make standard poker hands, you’re aiming for the lowest five-card poker hand possible: A-2-3-4-5. Flushes don’t count, straights don’t matter, and pairs actually work against you.

It’s frustrating. It’s fun. It’s Razz.

Badugi

Badugi is relatively new among unique poker games. It’s a four-card draw poker game with four rounds of action, usually played in a fixed-limit format.

Like in Razz, in Badugi you’re trying to make the lowest possible unpaired hand. Unlike in Razz, suits matter. If two players both have A-2-3-4 but one of them has two spades in hand, the one with a spade, a club, a diamond, and a heart in hand — a “badugi” — will win the pot.

With only four cards per player, so many draws in play, and the four-suit requirement to make the nuts, every card dealt in a game of badugi seems to goose the action. That makes it perfect for a home game and online cash sessions alike.

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