Best Alternatives to Holdem Poker (And Why to Branch Out Your Game)

If you’re a poker player, it’s usually a safe assumption that your game of choice is No Limit Texas Holdem. After all, it gets practically all the TV exposure and can be found in casinos in all parts of the globe. It’s even been dubbed the “Cadillac” of Poker, and top poker professionals attest to its status as the perfect combination of skill and excitement. But perhaps best of all, its rules are comparatively simple and it doesn’t take very long to learn how to play.

But if you solely play Texas Holdem, you are missing out on a wide variety of other poker games that you might find just as exciting, if not more. Many alternative poker games are either growing in popularity or are already very popular in different parts of the world. In addition, fundamental poker skills are often perfected by branching out and trying a game with slightly different rules. Most of the key concepts apply to most varieties of poker, and sticking to just one game can stifle your growth by narrowing your understanding. This means that by playing a different game, it’s likely you’ll actually get better at Holdem! But which ones to try?

(For detailed summaries and bankroll management guides for all of these, click on the name of the game.)

Limit Holdem

A natural first step if you don’t want to radically change your poker atmosphere is to take a stab at Limit Holdem. While some No Limit players yawn at the fact that you can’t be your whole stack at once, limit is an incredibly complex game and can teach you a lot about pot odds and variance and can help you learn to focus on long-term results, not short-term variance.

Pot Limit Omaha

Pot Limit Omaha has been an incredibly popular game in Europe for some time and has been steadily growing in the United States as well. Although it’s technically Omaha “Holdem” the gameplay is quite different from Texas Holdem and hand values are typically much stronger. Playing PLO can really improve your short-handed skills and teach you vital concepts like stack-to-pot ratios and commitment threshold. Even the simple fact that it is played pot limit instead of no limit will open your mind and generally make you more aware.

Omaha Hi/Lo

Omaha Hi/Lo, sometimes called Omaha 8, is almost always played limit and is a good example of a low variance game. Playing it for a while can be a wonderful exercise in the value of patience, as you will likely encounter players who, enamored with the idea that a low hand takes half the pot,  repeatedly come in with trash preflop. Waiting for dominant hands that can “scoop” an Omaha Hi/Lo pot is a lesson in discipline that is applicable to any form of poker.

These are just a few ideas for some popular games you might want to try. In my next post, I’ll go over a few more.

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