How many poker variants to learn
If you are new to poker, you may be overwhelmed by the number of poker variants. And even if you are an experienced poker player and know one or two variants quite well, you may wonder how many poker variants you should learn.
After all the top pros starting with Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu can play any poker variant and do well. Phil Ivey considered by many as the best poker player is believed to be good at all poker variants. Or take Johnny Chan who learned all poker variants from the beginning; he won 10 WSOP bracelets, in holdem (limit, pot-limit & no-limit), omaha, stud and deuce to seven draw; i.e. he has a bracelet in all the four major poker variants.
What about you?
How many poker variants for the poker beginner
The stage of a poker novice player generally spans more than one year. Exceptions occur for players who are personally coached, who are highly disciplined and structured in their learning, who have extraordinary intellectual abilities or who learn and practice poker for many hours every week ... But most new players attain the status of intermediate or advanced player after a few years of first learning the game of poker.
As long as he is at the beginner level, a player's best interest is to focus on the smallest possible number of poker variations. Preferably just one, as its study will requires a considerable period of time. Be sure that 2 or 3 books and tens of thousands of hands are not enough to shed enough light on one variant of poker.
The study of a form of poker necessitates the understanding of several concepts. For example in no-limit texas holdem sit'n go tourneys, you should spend time learning the following notions: Hold'em, no-limit tournament betting, full ring tactics, short-handed maneuvers, heads-up confrontation and general standard moves.
It is a lot on any new player's plate to swallow. It is ok to add another holdem variation such as the ring game format, but adding a totally different variant like Stud is not a good idea. Overall adding too much may have a negative effect. For instance mixing fixed limit and no-limit is confusing as starting hand requirements are different. And some tournaments moves are inappropriate in cash games,...
How many poker variants for the advanced poker player
Winning players at mid-stakes should consider adding one or more poker variants to their arsenal. You might be surprised by the number of theoretical concepts shared by other poker variants. And as you already master the main concepts in your favorite format, you are starting with a solid background already.
Bluffing, slow playing, being tight or aggressive, getting a free card, such are examples of notions understood by all Hold'em, Omaha or Stud players. If you read Sklansky's Theory of Poker and you should if you are interested in poker, then it is one of the reference books and it talks about poker generally, not using a specific poker variation but instead seeking the deepest concepts intrinsic to the game of poker itself.
As a matter of fact if you start learning a new poker form, you will realize the importance of some concepts that also exist in your main variation but for which you never gave relevance. A basic example is that in Stud you could discover the importance of the antes that appear in the late stages of Texas Hold'em tournaments.
Furthermore you might be pleasantly surprised that your prior knowledge will make you a winning player in these new variants rather rapidly. Once you get used to the specifics, you will feel in known territory. One common path to making good profits is for profitable holdem players who move to omaha holdem. As Omaha is not as mainstream as holdem, large profit opportunities still exist in Omaha for solid players who understand poker.
Another advantage of learning new poker variations is that you will have the opportunity to play all the events at the major tournaments. For example in the online poker championships, other variants are represented such as Pot-limit Omaha, Razz, Stud High, Stud High/Low and HORSE, not just Holdem.
To be honest the fields are generally weaker in poker variations outside of Texas Holdem, because Texas Holdem is what almost all players from the new generation focus on, and this is what is available at most online poker rooms. So if you master PLO or 7-card Stud high/low, you can reap great profits.