How to Play HORSE Poker
The most popular option of mixed games is HORSE poker where players alternate between Holdem, Omaha Hi Lo, Razz, 7 Card Stud and 7 Card Stud Hi Lo. The starting point for the popularity of the game was 2006, when this format was first added to the list of WSOP events with a $50,000 buy-in. Since then, this discipline has been included in the list of mandatory events of the WSOP, as well as the WCOOP.
It is quite difficult for a beginner to immediately understand the HORSE poker rules, since they include five various types of poker at once. But after a while, with experience comes an understanding of the essence of this game and how to successfully play it.
Basic HORSE Poker Rules
The first letters of the abbreviation H.O.R.S.E stand for the names of five different disciplines. All of them change in turn in the following order:
But how do you play HORSE poker? Each discipline lasts one round. The duration of the level depends on one of two possible factors:
- Time – the organizers of the tournament allocate a certain time for which the round lasts.
- Number of hands – the round can be limited to a certain number of hands. In this case, all poker players are on an equal footing, and there is no reason to delay the decision.
In events, the amount of mandatory bets increases after the full circle of five rounds has been completed. For example, if the participants started playing on blinds of $20/$40, then the next circle (of 5 rounds) will be played with mandatory bets of $40/$80.
The discipline of HORSE poker is one of the most difficult, so the winners of major tournaments in it are treated with great respect. The first WSOP held an event in this discipline in 2006.
Let’s understand how to play HORSE poker in some detail. From two to eight participants can play at one table. All hands are held in a limit format, so there is no way to go all-in or play a big raise. Each round corresponds to a certain discipline.
The game begins with two of the participants making mandatory bets: the big and small blind. How to determine who is doing it? To the left of them is the dealer button, which moves every hand.
On preflop each player is dealt 2 cards.
You need to evaluate your cards and decide what to do next: fold, call or raise.
On the flop, 3 community cards are dealt for all participants in the hand, and the betting round starts. Then the fourth card is the turn, and the fifth card is the river. Betting continues on each street until the showdown.
To win, you need to get all opponents to fold their cards, or you can show the strongest combination. At the showdown, all combos are compared and the winners are determined according to the classic Texas Holdem rules.
The second round is played in Omaha poker or Hi Lo variant (depending on the poker HORSE format). Each participant is dealt four pocket cards, and two players near the dealer button post the big and small blinds. The gameplay is the same as in Hold'em. The only difference is that poker players have four hole cards in their hands, and not two. With five community cards on the board, you need to make a combination.
In Omaha Hi, the player with the highest hand wins, while in Hi Lo, the two players can be the winners with the combinations of the highest and lowest order. The low hand must not include cards higher than 8 and of the same value. If no one manages to collect the lowest combination, the poker player with the highest combination takes the whole pot.
The absence of blinds is the main feature of Razz. But each player must place another mandatory bet: the ante (equal to 1/10 of the mandatory bet of the table's upper limit).
Each participant is dealt 3 cards. Two of them are closed and one is open.
The poker player with the highest face value card makes an additional mandatory bring-in bet.
After that, the standard rounds of betting take place.
The player with the lowest hand of 5 cards wins. The following rules apply:
- The Ace is considered the lowest card.
- The suit does not affect the strength of the hand.
- Two cards of the same denomination worsen the strength of the combination.
Seven Card Stud
There are no blinds, but everyone must post an ante. Two closed cards and one open are dealt. The bring-in is made by the player with the lowest card, and at the end, each poker player has 7 cards left: 3 closed and 4 open. The player with the strongest combination wins.
Stud Hi Lo
The game process is similar to the seven card variant except for one thing: the showdown. At showdown, a pot can be split: half of the pot is taken by the poker player with the strongest combination, and the other half by the player with the weakest.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The H.O.R.S.E. card game has both its pros and cons. Let's start with the disadvantages:
- Difficult rules (especially for beginners)
Not every new player can immediately delve into the rules of "simple" hold'em. And the rules of quite complex HORSE are even more interesting. It is not recommended for beginners to start their acquaintance with poker with this discipline, because due to its complexity, the desire to play poker may disappear altogether. It is more suitable for experienced professionals who have thoroughly studied all variants of poker games earlier.
- Frequent change of disciplines during the game
Each round a new format of poker is played. HORSE poker rules are not easy. In one format of poker the concrete combination is winning, and in the other format the same one is losing. Therefore, you need to quickly respond to changing conditions.
Now to the benefits:
- Opportunity to showcase your skills
Every second person knows how to play Holdem and Omaha at the poker table, this will not surprise anyone. And to show good results in five disciplines at the same time is a real level of skill. In poker Horse you can really improve your skills, and after it every other format will seem simple and understandable to you.
- Ease of calculation
Due to the fact that it is a fully limit game, there are no unusual raises or all-ins. This makes it easier to calculate the bet if you are playing live. Raises are made in steps, and you can easily calculate the number of chips you need in your head.
- Small number of participants
Few poker players play in Horse tournaments, so your chances of winning increase.
HORSE poker is not a popular type of game, it is not easy to understand. However, it is a very interesting discipline that attracts many players.
You need to be prepared for the fact that this game is not available in every poker room. Most often, such tournaments can be found in large poker rooms, such as PokerStars and GGPoker. This game is also not always available on live series, but every year professionals gather at the WSOP to determine the strongest in the bracelet event.
Poker rooms to practice the game
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If you learn how to play H.O.R.S.E at a high level, you can improve your performance in each individual discipline that is included in this format. The competition in this game is small, so you have every chance to become the best.
This name refers to a poker mix format that can be played offline and online. This discipline includes as many as five types of poker. Each round (blind level) participants play a new kind of game. This is quite a rare format, it can only be found in large poker rooms.
Horse poker consists of five different disciplines: Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Stud Hi Lo. Each of these games with its rules is described in more detail in our material.
Since this is an abbreviation, each of the letters means the name of the type of poker that the participants play. The last letter of the term HORSE stands for Stud Hi Lo, also known as Eight or Better.