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How to Play HORSE / Mixed Poker

HORSE is a Mixed Poker Game – Here is How to Play

Instead of just one poker game, in HORSE you play 5 games in rotation. The name is an acronym. Each letter refers to a different type of poker. These are:

H – Fixed Limit Texas Holdem

0 – Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better (Fixed Limit)

R – Razz (7-Card Stud low only)

S – 7-Card Stud High

E – 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo (the E is for 8 or Better)

HORSE poker has some history. This is the format used in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the World Series of Poker each year. The $50,000 Buy-in ‘Poker Players Championship’ attracts the very best players from around the world, this uses HORSE Poker to decide the winner.

You can also find HORSE online, alongside several other mixed poker games including the popular 8-game, and 10-game formats.

This page explains each of the types of poker involved, showing you the game-play. Towards the end of this page you will find some strategy tips for players enjoying mixed poker games for the first time.

HORSE Poker – Holdem

Texas Holdem is familiar to many players in its No-Limit form – where you can bet up to what is in front of you at any point. In HORSE you’ll find Fixed Limit Texas Holdem instead. The dealer button, blinds, flop, turn and river are the same as in the NL version. What is different is that the betting amounts are fixed, with the betting unit doubled on the turn.

This creates many situations where you will be ‘priced in’ to call bets on later streets, even though your chances of winning the pot are slim. Likewise, when you have a strong but vulnerable hand, it can be hard to get opponents to fold.

HORSE Poker – Omaha 8 or Better

Also known as Omaha Hi-Lo, this is a split-pot game. At showdown the pot is split between the player with the highest poker hand and player with the best low. A low is created by holding 5 unique cards 8 or lower. If there is no low possible, then the high hand takes the pot. Like in all Omaha Poker variations, each player is dealt 4 cards before the flop. At showdown, 2 cards from a players hand and 3 cards from the community card board must be used to create a hand. The high hand and the low hand are created separately.

In this game, your objective is to scoop both sides of the pot at the same time. Hands with aces and small cards which are suited can be strong. These can hit a nut flush for the high, and low cards to win the low. You can find yourself sharing the low side on occasion, if you also lose the high side then you have been ‘quartered’. Experienced players learn to avoid this costly scenario.

HORSE Poker – Razz

Razz is a variation of 7-Card Stud (as are the next 2 games in the cycle). Here the lowest hand wins the pot. The best possible hand is ace to 5, straights and flushes do not count in this game.

Each player has their own cards in Razz, with no community cards in play. With 4 cards from each player’s ‘board’ visible to everyone, you gain an edge by keeping an eye on the cards which are folded. This will give you a clearer idea of how many remaining cards can complete your hand. Like all Stud variants, Razz is played with an ante and not blinds.

HORSE – 7-Card Stud

7-Card Stud sees each player dealt their own board of 7 cards, 3 are hidden (visible only to the individual player) and the 4 are visible to all. This game is played with fixed limit betting and the bets double once the 5th card is dealt. Stud games have an extra betting round compared to Holdem and Omaha variants, which can lead to some big pots.

At showdown in Stud, the highest poker hand takes the pot. This makes hidden pairs very powerful. If you hit a 3rd card matching your hidden pair, it will look like it missed your hand. You will need to remember folded cards in this game, as these can make a big difference. For example, if you are chasing a flush and see that 5 of your suit have been folded (or are in opponents hands), you will see that your chances of hitting are significantly reduced.

HORSE – 7-Card Stud 8 or Better

While Razz focuses on the low hand and 7-Card Stud the high hand, the final game in the HORSE sequence splits the pot at showdown. A high hand always pays, while to qualify for the low a player needs the lowest hand comprising of 5 unique cards 8 or lower.

Just like in Omaha Hi-Lo, in this Stud variation you need to focus on hands which will win you both sides of the pot. ‘Suited Babies’ are a very strong starting hand, as you have a shot at flushes as well as strong lows. In split pot games like 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo, middle ranked cards can be very dangerous. A high hand will win the pot alone 30% of the time, though if you see several low cards on your opponent’s boards, a scoop is less likely.