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Poker Guide
Learn the Basic Rules of the Game
Know the Lingo
Bet Smart
Some Variations of the Game

5. Some Variations of the Game

Once you've mastered 5-Card Draw, consider trying your hand (ahem) at one of the other countless poker games that are out there. Here are four popular poker offshoots to get you started:

5-card stud & 7-card stud
Hold-em
Lowball
Video Slot Machine Games

5-card stud & 7-card stud

Despite the name, stud is not played with singer Tom Jones. Instead, it is played without the option of trading your cards in for new ones. 5-card stud is played with each player receiving 5 cards, and betting based on the hand in front of them. 7-card stud is played in much the same way except, as the name would indicate, each player receives 7 cards and must make the best 5-card hand possible out of the cards available. These games are usually played with some cards dealt face up so that players can base their bets based on what they perceive to be the strength of other players. More specifically, usually the first two cards will be dealt face down (so only you can see them), then the rest of the cards will be dealt face up, except for the last card. Each time a card is dealt, there's another round of betting. Stud is a popular game because betting is done between every round of the deal, meaning there is the possibility that the pot can get big very quickly.

Hold-em

In Hold-em (also known as Texas Hold-em), each player is dealt two cards face down. At this point betting opens based on the two "pocket cards" that each player holds. After betting is complete, the dealer lays out the flop. The flop consists of several cards dealt face up in the middle of the table, used as community cards. The dealer first lays three cards into the flop, so your initial poker hand will consist of the three flop cards plus your two personal cards. There is a betting round, then another card is added to the flop. More betting, and finally a fifth card is added. The goal is for each player to make the best 5-card hand possible based on his/her two pocket cards and any three cards in the flop. This game can be expensive in a casino, and because of its complexity, should only be played by skilled players.

Lowball

Lowball is a game for the perpetual loser. In this game, the goal is to have the hand of the lowest possible value. In other words, the hand with the high card becomes more valuable than the hand with a royal flush. The perfect hand in a game of 5-Card lowball becomes a 2-3-4-5-7 of varied suits (you would not want 2-3-4-5-6 because that is a Straight. Lowball is a fun game to play around the kitchen table with some buddies. If you like that sort of thing.

Video Slot Machine Games

The above versions are all table games, played at either a green felt table in a casino, or at home with your loser friends while the rest of the world is out partying. Thanks to modern technology, however, you can now play poker all by your little ol' self. Casinos offer video poker slot machines, where every hand is assigned a certain payout. It's just like the real game except that instead of all your money going to a live opponent, it goes into a coin slot (and eventually reaches Donald Trump). Of course, there's one crucial difference: there's no betting involved at all. You put in your money, get your 5 cards, throw out the ones you want and draw some new ones, and your payout depends on what you have in your hand. Video poker is usually an inexpensive, non-threatening way to learn your way around the poker table, just to get a sense of the different hand combinations. Or you can just rent Rounders over and over again. Look out, Matt Damon.

One last word: before you hit it rich, keep in mind that while poker is great fun, many people get completely out of control while playing. Many people bet way more than they can afford. So if you feel that you are developing a gambling problem, then contact Gamblers Anonymous.