HORSE Poker

by Joseph MacNaughton

Ride the Game of HORSE and Play FIVE different Poker Games: FOR EXPERIENCED PLAYERS ONLY

 

 

History and Growth of the game of HORSE Poker

HORSE poker is a combination of five different poker games named from an acronym of the variants.

Hold'Em

Omaha Hi-Lo

Razz

Stud (Seven Card Stud)

Eight or better

All games in HORSE poker are almost always played using the Fixed Limit betting structure. It is unclear when this mixed game evolved precisely, but after many years in the making, the game had its first professional tournament at the World Series of Poker in 2002 in Las Vegas. The buy-in was $2000, and 1st prize was a mere $117,320, by today's standards.

A much bigger tournament of HORSE took place at the 2006 world series of poker. This time a 1st place prize of $1,716,000 was awarded. The game of HORSE has never been overly popular; maybe because you must learn to play five different forms of Poker, and most people will not be so well versed at playing all five of these poker games.

Many people had not even heard of HORSE poker until the 2008 World Series of Poker $50,000 HORSE event, which was won by Scotty Nguyen. Scotty drew greater attention to the game for being a loud and charismatic personality with a lot of table talk. Characteristics people loved and loved to hate.

What is HORSE and How to Play

HORSE can be played in cash games and tournaments alike. It seats between 2-8 players at a table. All hands are played using a fixed limit betting structure, which means you must wager a fixed size bet agreed in advance depending on the game, stakes and stage of the hand. The limits or stakes will be kept the same while rotating around the table in each type of game.  

The game will start by playing one round of fixed limit Hold'Em. One round will mean everyone gets to play one hand from each position. In other words, if eight players are seated, one round will consist of eight hands. After the eighth hand finishes, the game will switch to Omaha Hi-Lo. After eight hands of Omaha Hi-Lo, it will proceed to the next game until all games have been played and then will start again on Hold'Em.

This guide does not go into detail of every rule and variant of each game, but the following is a general summary.

TEXAS HOLD’EM

Hold'Em will have the Small Blind located left to the Button and the Big Blind to the left of the Small Blind. The Small Blind must put a predetermined amount of chips in the pot before the cards are dealt, and the Big Blind must put twice the amount the Small Blind. Every player will get dealt two cards facedown and will, later on, be dealt up to 5 community cards in the middle of the table that everyone may use. The winner is the player who makes the best high ranking poker hand.

OMAHA HI-LO

Omaha Hi-Lo opens with each player receiving four cards face down. Like Hold'Em there will be a Button, Small Blind and Big Blind and will feature the same posting of chips before cards are dealt. Up to five community cards will be dealt in the middle, and you must use precisely two personal cards and three community cards to make the best five card hand. There will be two separate pots, one for the highest ranking poker hand and one for the lowest ranking poker hand.

RAZZ POKER

Razz Poker is the opposite of Seven Card Stud Poker. In this game, you won't have blinds like the previous two, but the size of the bets will be the same. Players are ultimately dealt seven cards, four face up and three face down. You must then make the lowest ranking five card poker hand to win the pot with Aces being low.

SEVEN CARD STUD

Seven Card Studas the name suggests, also deals seven cards, with four face up and three face down. The rules and betting are the same as Razz except you are trying to make the highest ranking five card poker hand.

EIGHT OR BETTER

Eight or better (also known as Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo) will play with like a combination of Seven Card Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo. The cards will be dealt out as they are in Seven Card Stud, four cards face up, and three cards face down. Only this time the pot is separated into two, one high pot and one low pot. The winner with the highest ranking poker hand will win the high pot, and the player with the lowest hand that is no higher than eight high will win the low portion of the pot.

Strategies and tips to think about During Gameplay

HORSE is an intriguing game since it involves the rotation of five different forms of Poker. This can make it difficult for a player to be well versed in all five games.

A good tip to win more chips at this game is figuring out which poker games players are strong and weak at around the table. Some players are going to be very experienced at Limit Hold'Em while some will be very experienced at Seven Card Stud. That's fine because there's a good chance that they are weak at the other games. This can give less experienced players an excellent opportunity to play in this game because very few people can be an expert in all forms.

For Hold'Em and Omaha, one of the key things to remember is having position. Try to play more hands in position and fewer hands out of position. The position is influential in all forms of poker but much more so in these two games.

Position in the other three forms of poker can be changed on every betting round depending on the card that is drawn. The position in Hold'Em and Omaha stays the same for the duration of the hand. Take advantage of this knowledge and play more of your hands in places closest to the button, with the button being the best position as they get to act last.   

The other three games are more showdown games, and starting positions are less critical. Because of the fixed limit betting structure, every player gets a reasonable price to call and see another card, so not a whole lot of folding goes on.

When should you fold in limit games? Folding when your opponents block your good draws is a good place to start. If your draws are not blocked you will almost always get the right mathematical price to chase these draws.

All these games are fixed limit poker, and you never want to slow play your strong hands. Slow playing gives the impression you are playing a weak hand when in fact the opposite may be true with moves like check and call. Strong hands need to bet and raise. Players do not fold in Fixed Limit Poker because of the relatively small bet size in comparison to the pot. There isn't really any benefit in slow playing the hand or playing cautiously, and it's an absolute disaster if you decide to check, and they check back and see free cards! Make your opponents pay to see more cards!

Things to Keep in Mind Before Jumping on a Horse Game

HORSE is an interesting variant of poker that is not played so much these days. It is not a game for someone brand new to poker. Learning five games of poker at the same time is going to be very difficult to grasp and play effectively.

If you are new to poker, pick one variant of the game, get familiar and comfortable with that game before moving onto the next one. Jumping into a HORSE game without having played much poker is asking for trouble!

There is minimal HORSE action in Casinos or Online sites, but it does still exist. You might have to search for it a bit more than other poker games to be able to find a table. Other mixed games are gaining greater popularity as time goes on such as 8-game Mix, Hold'Em/Omaha and even 10-Game Mix! This may be because people want even more variety and challenge from adding more games to the mix.

Before jumping into a HORSE game, be confident in more than one variant that is being played. Look out for your opponent's weakness at certain games. Bet and raise when you have a strong hand and fold when your opponents block you from drawing to a stronger hand. This game of poker is for those who want to try something new and are confident in a few different forms of poker.