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Choosing a Poker Variation/Format

When you first get started with poker, you’ll find that there is an almost endless variety of poker variations and game types to choose from. Texas Hold'em is the most popular poker variation right now but it’s hardly the only one. Additionally, you also have several different poker game-types to choose from within each variation. For example, Texas Hold'em players can choose from cash games, tournaments and sit-n-go’s.

Choosing a Poker Variation

The first step in choosing a poker game is to choose a poker variation. Texas Holdem is the first choice for most people because that’s the most well known game today. It’s also the game in which you’ll find the most action at all stakes. Whether it’s the micro limit tables or ultra high stakes games, you’ll find people ready to play.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump right in to Texas Hold'em. Its great popularity is also its greatest weakness. Texas Hold'em is the most studied game and therefore has the most skilled players. Other poker variations such as Omaha and 7 Card Stud are full of extremely soft tables. There’s just not as much information out there about those other poker variations.

A few poker variations you may want to consider (including links to full articles teaching you how/where to play):

At the very least, I recommend you learn the basics of Texas Hold'em at some point. Even if you end up playing a different game the majority of the time, it does not hurt to be familiar with Texas Hold'em. This is the most commonly played game in the world. If you know how to play Texas Hold'em, you will be able to find a game no matter where you are.

Choosing a Poker Format

Once you choose a game type, you will next want to choose a game format. There are four basic game formats you can choose from:

  • Fixed Limit Cash Games
  • No Limit Cash Games
  • Multi-Table Tournaments
  • Sit-n-Go Tournaments

The type of game format you choose should be based on your own personal preference and playing style. For the most part, fixed limit cash games attract methodical, mathematically-oriented thinkers. Fixed limit cash games don’t have a lot of dramatic moments; they are characterized by a slow but steady procession of small and medium-sized pots.

No limit cash games are for the more adventurous in spirit. There is good money to be made in no limit cash games, but there is also good money to be lost. In a no-limit cash game, you can lose your entire stack in a single hand. You can also buy back in as many times as you want. In cash games, there is no time limit; the only limit is the amount of money you have in your pocket.

Multi-table tournaments get the most television coverage because of their massive prize pools and dramatic, all-in situations deep in the game. You must have a strong heart if you play tournaments, though, because it is common to play great poker for several hours and then get knocked out on a bad beat and receive not a penny for your efforts.

If you like tournaments but don’t like the frustration of playing in large, multi-table tournaments, you may instead like to try sit-n-go tournaments. These are just single table tournaments in which the prizes are much smaller but also much easier to win. With just 8 opponents, your chances are much higher than in a tournament that has 2,000 players.

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