Poker Variations

Poker is a living game that by its nature invites and receives constant variation in everyday play. Many variations are ad hoc and go unrecorded; others become popular over various periods of time and often acquire different names. Thus the game does not lend itself to being pinned down in books, and it must suffice here to describe the most basic forms, together with the broad lines along which variations occur.

The original game was Straight Poker, or Cold Poker, in which five cards were dealt to each player; one period of betting ensued, and the winner of that took the pot. From this developed Draw Poker, in which, after the first betting interval is over, each player can seek to improve his hand by rejecting some of his cards and 'drawing' (== being dealt) replacements, a process followed by a second betting interval before the winner is determined.

Draw is still regarded as the basic game for home play and is recommended for beginners, but serious players are now devoted to various forms of the next development. Stud Poker. In these, each player receives five or even more cards, from which he selects any five as his eventual playing hand. Some of these are dealt face down (= hole cards) for his eyes only, others face up (= upcards) for all to see. There is no draw, but betting intervals follow the deal of successive cards, giving more opportunity for betting and for the application of skill.