HORSE Poker is not just another poker variant, but a mixed game involving 5 popular poker variations. It takes a very experienced poker player to win a session of HORSE. You’ll not only need to know how each poker variant is played, but develop a solid H.O.R.S.E poker strategy.
The name HORSE is actually an acronym that relays each of the poker variants involved in the mixed game, and the order in which they are played. H.O.R.S.E. Stands for:
H = Texas Hold’em
O = Omaha Hi-Lo
R = Razz
S = Seven Card Stud
E = Seven Card Stud Eight or Better (Hi-Lo)
HORSE Poker Sites
H.O.R.S.E. Poker – Sequence of Games
The sequence of games follows the acronym, starting with Texas Hold’em, then Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, 7 Card Stud and 7 Card Stud Eight or Better (Hi-Lo). Once the last variant is played out, the cycle begins anew with Texas Hold’em. In a ring game, this will continue until there are no players left at the tables. In tournaments, the cycle repeats until a victor is crowned.
H.O.R.S.E. Poker – Rotation of Games
In order to play so many games in a single poker session, there must be a rule of rotation. There are three general rules of HORSE rotation that can be applied.
Rotation by Hands: This is the fastest paced way to play HORSE Poker. With each new hand dealt, the next poker variant on the list is played. You’ll need to have a good level of experience playing HORSE before playing rotation by hands for any substantial amount of money.
Rotation by Blinds: One of the most common ways to play HORSE is to rotate the game variants by blind levels. Each time a new blind level is reached, the next variant is dealt. This variant will continue in play until the following blind level.
Rotation by Time: Much like rotation by blinds, rotation by time means that poker variants will change at specific intervals. Rotation by time is usually every 10 to 15 minutes, though large multi-table tournaments may go as long as 1 hour between rotations.
H.O.R.S.E. Poker – Learning the Mixed Games
You’ll need to learn how to play all 5 poker variants in HORSE Poker in order to have any chance at winning such a game. We also highly recommend a solid poker strategy for each variant and some good practice at the regular game tables.
H = Texas Hold-em
O = Omaha Hi-Lo
R = Razz
S = Seven Card Stud
E = 7 Card Stud Eight or Better (Hi-Lo)
For this reason, we have developed an entire HORSE Poker guide that includes the rules of each game, good starting hands and 3-part strategy guides for each poker variant. You will find the links to these below.
HORSE Poker Tips & Strategy
- Try to play more of the games you are stronger in. Take advantage of players who do not play specific games well.
- Do not “not play” the games you are weak in. The blinds will eventually eat you up. If possible, try to play the “nuts” or close to it.
- The most popular games are Hold Em and Omaha. Try to get a little more than “familiar” with the Stud based games.
- Although this may seem obvious, keep track of the rounds especially in Stud. You will start with Razz and make the transition into Stud. Two completely different games and many players forget and go a couple hands before they figure it out.
- All games are Limit style of betting, be sure to bet for value.
It has been said that HORSE poker is the true test for a poker player and will show how well rounded they may be. All games are played in the limit style of betting, and you have to be prepared to change gears at the start of every new level. While strategy books have been written for each game already, it is important to consider a few of these things when you sit down for a mixed game.
Texas Hold Em
- Stick to good starting hands.
- ABC poker: Bet when you have something and fold when you do not.
- Get your money in when you are ahead
- You will want to play hands that are connected, suited, and one pair in the hole. The more combinations you have the better. Any hand such as A-A-X-X is playable and should be raised. Hands such as K-K-Q-10 are good as well as a flop can bring multiple straight and flush opportunities. For low draws you can also add A-2-3-4 or A-A-2-3.
- Be careful chasing draws. In limit style games you simply will not have the odds to call. Only chase multiple draws such as multiple straights combined with flushes.
- Be sure to only play a maximum of one pair in the hole. For example, you do want to play hole cards that consist of 3-4 Aces as you will lose potential outs.
- Do not play in multi way pots (3+ players) unless you can scoop the pot. This will ensure you will not lose money by splitting the pot multiple ways.
- The best hand is a wheel: A-2-3-4-5.
- Pay attention to other players cards.
- Good starting cards should consist of very low cards such as A-2-3 or A-2-4 or A-2-5. This is not to say that you can not play a starting hand like A-2-7, but be prepared to let the hand go if you feel beaten.
- Straights and flushes do not count against you.
7 Card Stud
- Start with a combination of cards. For example K-J-10 would be a decent starting hand. It is even better if 2 or more cards are suited.
- Use your exposed cards as “scare cards” for your opponents. Make them think you have something when you do not.
- Play hands that are made with hidden cards aggressively. If you have a pocket Kings showing and one exposed, play aggressively. Especially if your opponent is showing one Ace with no other big draws. This will definitely hold true in lower stakes as they will feel a pair is good.
Stud Eight or Better
- Similar to Omaha, try to “scoop” the pot. Do not get crazy with a low hand with more than 3+ players.
- Hands such as A-X-X are good, A-K-X (X= 2 thru 5) are ok, and any combination with straights or flushes. Give yourself multiple opportunities to make hands.
- Be aware of your opponents cards and be sure what you have can beat his exposed cards. If so, see what types of draws they may be on.
And then, repeat … After 8 or better Stud you will go back to playing Hold Em again. These tips are just to get you started of course but should definitely keep you from being a losing player. The biggest tip of all is to practice, practice, and practice some more, especially in games you feel that you are weaker in. You will find that learning how to play each game in HORSE will make you an overall better poker player.