What Are the Differences Between Texas Hold ’em and Poker?

Poker refers to a set of card games based on skill, counting, and a bit of luck, and it can be a little confusing to figure out the different types. While a popular game like Texas Hold ’em is often just called poker, there are significant differences to be aware of. 

Poker refers to various card games that involve betting, where a winner is decided based on a hand-ranking system specific to that game. On the other hand, Texas Hold ’em is a variant of poker, and it’s arguably the most popular one. 

This article will further expound on the differences between Texas Hold ’em and poker. So, let’s look at the details and compare these two popular games.

Texas Hold’em and Poker: Differences

The main difference between Texas Hold ’em and poker is that poker isn’t a specific game but an umbrella term clubbing together several games that are somewhat similar in the terms used, betting structure, and hand-ranking systems.

Texas Hold’em is a variant of poker, and the two shouldn’t be confused. Here’s a list of a few specific differences between the two.

Texas Hold’emPoker
A specific card game with a set of rulesAn umbrella term used to group together several card games with similar rules
Only two hole cards are dealt to each player  The number of cards per player differs based on the kind of poker variant they’re paying
Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant, with world-renowned tournaments like the WSOP being played in this formatPoker itself is a type of game and some variants are more popular than others
Hold’em can be played with a maximum of nine playersThe maximum number of players will differ based on the poker variant being played

As you can see, while both terms refer to card games with similar playing styles, betting structures, and rules, Texas Hold’em specifically refers to one game.

Video: 2 minute video explaining different poker games including Texas Hold’em

Poker Is an Umbrella Term

You can further divide poker into three main types of games: 

  • Stud Poker 
  • Community Games 
  • Draw Poker 

Each of these categories has a few different variants you can choose to play. 

Each version differs in the number of cards you hold, face-up cards, and players. The rules of betting also vary slightly depending on the game you play. 

While some variants are confusing, you can learn the game quickly if you understand the basics of each type of poker. 

Stud Poker

Stud poker games involve a mix of face-up and face-down cards belonging to each player at the table. No community cards or draws are allowed, and players must rely entirely on the cards they receive from the dealer. 

Typically, stud poker games have a certain number of cards dealt face down and a few dealt face up. The hand-ranking system and betting structure are similar to other poker games. 

So, let’s look at some of the more common types of stud poker:

Seven-Card Stud

Before Hold ’em came into the limelight, seven-card stud was the world’s most popular poker game. 

Each player is dealt one face-up card and two cards face down, after which a round of betting occurs. After the initial bet, another three face-up cards are dealt, with a round of betting between each card. 

The dealer places the last card face down, after which there’s a final round of betting. Players must gauge their opponent’s hand from the face-up cards and the way they check or raise during the game. In total, each player will have four face-up cards and three cards facing down.

I have a detailed article on how to play Seven-card stud.


In Razz, players must compete to make the lowest hand possible, with the wheel (5,4,3,2,A) being the highest possible combination a player can have. Aside from the difference in hand ranking, Razz has the same rules and betting structure as a seven-card stud game.

Video: How to Play Razz

Five-Card Stud   

This game starts with each player being dealt one face-up and one face-down card. The player with the lowest face-up value must place a bet if they wish to be a part of the hand. 

After this preemptive bet, the initial round of betting begins. Typically, players holding the highest face-up card will make a bet first, with turns going clockwise or counterclockwise. 

Like Seven-card stud, there’s a combination of face-up and face-down cards. Each player has one card face down and four facing up in this case. 

Mississippi Stud

In Mississippi Stud, players are dealt cards in the same fashion as Seven-card stud, with four cards facing up and three facing down. The only difference is that there are no betting rounds between the fourth and fifth reveal. 

Community Games

Community games derive their name from the rule that all the players at the table share certain cards. Each player receives a certain number of ‘hole’ cards– or face-down cards– in these games. 

Players must then find the best combination of community cards and hole cards to create a five-card poker hand. These are some popular community poker games played worldwide. 

Texas Hold’em 

Perhaps the most popular poker variant in existence today, Texas Hold’em is a game celebrated for its simplicity and quick play. Hold ’em also happens to be a game requiring considerable skill and the foresight to predict probable situations. 

In Hold’em, the dealer deals two hole cards to each player before any community cards are opened up. The deal is followed by an initial round of betting where players can raise the pot based on the value of their hole cards. 

Those who wish to play further either match the bet or raise it, and those who don’t ‘fold’ or give up their cards and wait till the hand is played out. Once the initial bet is over, the community cards are revealed in a particular order. 

First, three cards are placed face-up, and players can examine their cards against these. This initial reveal is known as the ‘Flop.’ 

There’s a round of betting after the flop is revealed, and players can either continue playing or fold if their hole cards aren’t a good match. After the action on the flop, one more card (called the river) is revealed, followed by another round of betting. 

Finally, a fifth card (the turn) is revealed, and there’s another round of betting, with players either calling their opponents’ bets or folding and removing themselves from the hand. 

In some cases, most players will fold by the time the fifth card is revealed. In this situation, the last remaining player wins the pot. If there’s more than one player left, those in the game show their hole cards and figure out who ranks higher. 

Players need to make a combination of the best five cards using the two cards in their hand and the five cards on the table. They can use both hole cards and three community cards or one hole card and four community cards for the winning hand. 

The fact that there are only two hole cards makes the game exciting and unpredictable, allowing for a significant degree of flexibility in your style of play. Players who can read their opponents well can even use the information to set traps or bluff a stronger hand out of the pot. 

In a nutshell, this is how Texas Hold’em is played. While it’s one of the more popular poker games, it differs significantly from Poker itself, which, as mentioned, is a game with several variants.

Video: How To Play Poker – Learn Texas Hold’em Poker rules


Omaha is played precisely like Hold ’em, except that each player receives four hole cards instead of two. Like Texas Hold ’em, Omaha games also involve five community cards, and players must combine their hole cards with the face-up cards for a high-ranking hand. 

The difference in Omaha is that players must use two of the four hole cards for the winning hand. For example, if there are four hearts in the community, a player must still have two hearts in their hand to claim a flush.

Omaha is not the easiest poker game to learn and master, but once you do, you will be making more money with it than Hold’em. If you want to know more, head to the article about the most profitable poker game that I have.


Pineapple is a more fun version of Texas Hold ’em with a few variations. The variation is decided at the start of each hand, and every player receives three hole cards. 

Players must discard one card from these three and play with the other two. Based on the variation, this discard happens either before the community cards are dealt or when one of the streets is revealed (flop, turn, or river). 

Aside from the discarding bit, Pineapple is played exactly like Texas Hold ’em.

I would avoid Omaha or 7 Card stud for a home game, but Pineapple is a very fun game to play with friends. Prepare the snacks and drinks and you are guaranteed to host a great poker night.


Courchevel is a home game played with family and friends who aren’t seriously competing to win money. 

This variant is like Omaha, except each player is dealt five cards, and one community card is revealed before the first betting round.

Video: 15 minute guide on how to play Couurchevel

Draw Poker 

In draw poker, players are dealt a certain number of cards face down and must make a complete hand with their hole cards. There are no community cards involved in draw poker. 

Instead, draw poker allows players to trade in their cards and ‘draw’ new cards from the deck to try and increase the value of their hand. 

Five-Card Draw 

In a five-card draw, each player is dealt five face-down cards when the game starts. Players are then allowed an initial round of betting, similar to the betting procedure followed in Hold ’em and other community games. 

Once the initial betting round has concluded, players can discard up to three cards from their hand and ‘draw’ the same number from the deck. In some variations, players with an Ace or ‘wild’ card can discard up to four cards and draw the same number from the deck. 

When everyone finishes drawing, there’s another round of betting, after which the players left in the game reveal their cards and the highest hand wins the pot.

Many people don’t know the difference between 5 Card Draw and 5 Card Stud, so I explained it in detail.

Seven-Card Draw

Seven-Card Draw is similar to a five-card draw, except players receive seven cards instead of five. When the betting is over, players must reveal the five cards that give them the highest chance of winning the hand. 

Double Draw

Double draw can be played with seven or five cards, depending on what the table decides. The rules are the same as other draw games, except there’s an extra round of betting, and players are allowed to draw from the deck twice. 

Draw poker can be considered a family game, rarely played for competition. While there’s some strategy, draw games typically involve a lot more luck, and they’re a great way to have fun while spending time with loved ones.


Are Texas Hold’em and Poker the Same?

Texas Hold ’em is one type of poker game, while the term ‘poker’ is used to categorize a set of card games with similar hand-ranking values and betting structures. While Hold ’em bears similarities to other poker games, they’re not the same.

What’s the Most Popular Poker Game Today?

Texas Hold ’em is the most popular poker game today, with poker rooms and casinos worldwide hosting Hold ’em cash games and tournaments. Even the biggest poker tournament, WSOP, is played with this variant.   

Final Thoughts

From the description of each variant above, it’s clear that Poker is a more all-encompassing term used to refer to a set of popular card games. Each variant has a specific set of rules and a unique betting structure to follow. 

Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant played today, one that allows players to choose from a range of playing styles and strategies.