There are plenty of non Hold'em poker games. Some offer a lot more of a challenge than NLHE, and some could be an excellent source of income as well. The question is, is it worth your while? And if so, which one (or ones!) should you try?
Tell your Hold'em pals that you've been playing Omaha in your spare time and you'd think you'd told them you've been cheating on your spouse. Or leaking government secrets. Or feeding razors to kittens.
For some, deviating from the norm is not only baffling, but downright unheard of. And I mean that literately: a fair number of players have actually even heard of some of the poker variations, namely the mixed games. I'm not talking about Omaha or Stud, Razz or H.O.R.S.E. Those are pretty standard - though, of course, not as mainstream as Hold'em. I'm talking about games like Courchevel, or Billabong or Five-O poker.
This ignorance really isn’t that shocking. The popularity of Hold'em has all but blindsided us, and with events attracting hundreds of thousands of players every year and games being televised to millions, it is easy to see how other variants can fall by the wayside.
But, if you truly want to monetize your game, the way side could be the place to be.
Listen, if Hold'em is your one and only, then by all means, let monogamy reign, but if you're becoming listless in the game, or even if you are just looking to spice things up, then learning other games is a fantastic way to fortify your overall strategy and pad your bankroll.
Here are five (lucrative) reasons why.
1. You'll get a strategic edge.
Poker variations are just that: variations of poker. No matter what incarnation you play, you are still boning up on your fundamental knowledge as well as advanced strategy. You're able to look at the game from another perspective, and are thereby able to see opportunities other players can't.
Take Courchevel, for example. It’s an Omaha variation, so you get 5 cards and you have to use two cards from your hand and three from the board, but unlike Omaha, once you’re dealt your five cards, the first community card is also exposed so you can see what 20% of the board is going to be before you get in pre-flop. This means playing Courchevel can bolster your pre-flop game, since you are going to be spending more time understanding how you and others conduct themselves at this pivotal point.
Courchevel - and by extension, other Omaha variations - are great games to play because they are big bet, big action games, and the more people think they can get in on the action, the more they will play, when actually the opposite should hold true: they should play tighter. But someone who doesn't know the game won't know this, and since you do know the game, you can exploit this weakness.
2. You'll rock events.
Whether you’re playing in the WCOOP, SCOOP, or FTOPs, there will be an event in these mixed games, and if you know how to play them, you have an amazing edge. In events like the SCOOP, where the games can be big, you are going to be getting a lot of people in the mixed games that don’t really know how to play them, or really don't know how to play but are there because they're going for the leader board and know enough about tournament strategy to think they'll do alright. So, if you know the game cold, that's going to give you a chance to make some serious coin, especially because the buy-ins can be quite significant.
What’s more, live tournament series like the WSOP or the EPT also have events with mixed games as well, so you have better chances of scoring (even a bracelet) in big buy-in events because the fields are much smaller - and, as I said - you'll know your shit. You'll have studied your strategy and done your time actually playing, whereas others will be walking in comparatively blind.
3. You'll be the home game hero.
At least to yourself. Other people might not like you that much, but when the time comes to play dealer's choice and you opt to play your lesser known mixed game, you'll tear up the felt.
4. You could be ahead of the trend.
Sure, Hold’em is big now, but Stud used to be everyone’s favourite darling. You never know what game could get its day in the sun next, and if you’ve already mastered the strategy, then you’re in for a hefty (and lucrative) advantage over the competition.
5. You’ll be doing what you love.
Playing a game that makes you happy means you’ll play better, and when you play better, you’ll make more money. You know the old adage: "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." It's absolute trite, and it's absolutely true. It doesn’t matter if what tickles your fancy takes you off the beaten path: grab a damn machete and go for it.
Now, some of the resources for the lesser known mixed variations aren’t exactly plentiful, so, for instance, if you’re digging Courchevel, you may not be able to find many books or articles on strategy – but this is when you take the wheel. Start discussions in forums, ask questions, pool information with other enthusiasts. You’re not the only one out there who passionate about their mixed games, and while no one would deny the internet hosts its fair share of trash, it’s also replete with pure gold.
Do you have a favourite mixed game? Tell me about it in the comments
Photo Credit: Dan Goodwin | Flickr