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Texas Hold'Em is the darling of pro Poker players, spectators, and the media. It's an aggressive, flashy, intense and unpredictable game that gets the dollars on the table and changing hands like no other contemporary form of Poker. All that and it looks deceptively simple to play. The old hard-nut players may prefer 7-Card Stud, but everyone else is in love with Hold'Em. It's no coincidence that Hold'Em is the game that players at the World Series of Poker play to determine who takes home $1,000,000 and the champion's custom 14-karat gold bracelet.
Hold'Em is clearly a descendant of 7-Stud in that players form a five-card hand from seven available cards, but that's where the similarity ends. In fact, only two cards are actually held by the player as pocket cards. The other five are open, dealt to the middle of the table and shared by all players. Of course this means there are less cards in play, which is why Hold'Em typically seats nine or more players at the table.
A disk called the button marks the dealer in Hold’Em. For each hand the button rotates to the left. Players are identified by their seat position. The dealer is seat one, the player to the dealer's left is seat two and so on, clockwise around the table to the player on the dealer's right, which is typically, seat nine.
In practice, casino Hold'Em has a fixed (house) dealer and the button rotates around the table simply to mark the rotation of theoretical dealer. Betting position significantly affects a player's opportunities so the button's position in not simply symbolic.
Hold'Em comes in many low-limit/high-limit forms. Beginner games are typically $1-$2 or $2-$5, but the high end can be as much as $300-$600, $500-$1000 or more. Regardless of the limits, Hold'Em is designed to be a money game. Instead of a small ante in 7-Stud, Hold'Em uses two forced bets, the blinds, to get Bets on the table right from the beginning of the game.
The first player to the dealer's left -- seat two -- is the small blind and must kick in half the lower limit ($5 in a $10-$20 game). Seat three is the big blind and must kick in the full value of the lower limit ($10 in a $10-$20) game.
The deal rotates clockwise around the table beginning with the player to the big blind's left. Players are dealt with their first pocket card in turn, then there second.
7 Card Stud
When it comes to Poker games, Draw Poker is old school, 5-Card Stud is too rare to speak of, but 7-Card Stud is alive and well. Texas Hold'Em gets all the press and makes a better spectator game, but 7 Stud is the game of choice for the hard-nut players.
Stud demands strategy and skill and it takes a lot of play to develop the winner's edge. Top caliber players are few and far between but they have one thing in common with the rookies: every player of the game is still learning, even the masters.
Let's begin with the basic rules. Betting Limits
Stud games are defined by their betting limits. The low stakes online games are usually $2-$4 while the higher games are typically $8-$16 or $10-$20. I've seen land casino Stud at $100-$200 or higher, but these stakes are very rare on the web.
The game's betting limits tell the Stud player pretty much everything they need to know about the nature of the game, the expectations of the players, and the size of the bankroll you should have before you sit in.
Buy-In and Bankroll
Your minimum Stud Buy-In is typically 10-times the low limit, or $20 for a $2-$4 game. Choosing your Game
Anything below the $10-$20 level is generally considered a beginner's game. The skill and strategy levels required in the higher games are substantial and such games generally do not provide a friendly environment for the Stud player still learning their way around.
Ante in Stud is mandatory and changes depending on the betting limits. The low games usually require a 10% Ante, so a $5-$10 game will have a $0.50 Ante. The high games get up to 25% on the Ante: that's $25 on a $100-$200 game. The percentages may vary somewhat but 10% is the typical minimum.Dealing We'll use a $10-$20 game as our working example, so the Ante is $1, 10% of the low limit.
Omaha Hi is a version of Texas Hold'Em where players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. But there's a catch: two and only two of the hole cards can be used in making the final hand. Omaha Hi is also known as Omaha Hold'Em or simply Omaha.
The four hole cards make Omaha a nine-card game and having more cards to choose from means players will typically finish with stronger hands. Poker players being the people that they often are, the possibility of higher hands typically means that players stay in longer and the pots will grow accordingly.
In practice, Hold'Em players will find that the focus in Omaha Hi tends more towards playing the cards than playing the other players.
For the basics of Omaha, see our Texas Hold'Em rules. The only variations are:
Since the name of the game in Omaha is to assemble the killer hand, it essentially becomes a drawing game. You take the possibilities you're dealt with the hole cards, determine what you can make out of it, watch the community cards as they fall with a careful eye on what they're doing to your chances and bail if it becomes clear that things are going sour. You can burn off a lot of chips hanging around to see if things improve.
The strategy guidelines for Omaha run into the dozens because of the number of cards in play and the two-from-four rule. To make a long story short, it's generally advised that you stay in if your hole cards integrate well --that is, they form the beginnings of several good hands-- and muck them if they don't.
Rookie Omaha players are often suckered in by a solid pack of hole cards or a strong string of community cards. Remember, Four to a Flush in the hole is useless because you only get to keep two of them. Ditto with the community cards. There is no point to betting on cards you can't keep so remember: two hole cards, three community cards, no exceptions, period.
Watch out for busted hands in the initial deal: two cards might start a Straight and the others a Flush, but there's no crossover in that you can't recombine the cards to form yet another