If you have never heard of HORSE Poker before, this should not come as much of a surprise seeing as the game has not existed for very long. Though it is a new installment to the brick and mortar scene as well as online poker sites, the components that make HORSE Poker what it is have been around for a long time and are familiar to most every poker player.
As you may have been able to tell, HORSE is nothing more than an acronym standing for Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better. This is no coincidence as a single game of HORSE Poker consists of all of the aforementioned games. What has really made this game become increasingly popular with each passing year is the fact that it involves multiple skillsets. While one player may be a skilled Omaha player, they may struggle at one of the other 4 poker variants. As such, HORSE requires that a player be extremely well-rounded and capable of playing multiple games seemingly at the same time. In the following few sections we will elaborate more on the games that make up HORSE as well as how they work as individual entities.
Hold’em, or Texas Hold’em as it is more officially known, is by far the most wel-known poker variant that exists. In a hand of Hold’em, all 2-8 players are given 2 face-down hole cards that they will use in conjunction with 5 face-up community cards to form the best 5-card hand. The person who wins is the person who either has the strongest hand or has forced every other player to fold (forfeit their hand).
Omaha is another extremely popular poker variant that actually came before the aforementioned Hold’em. Like Hold’em, Omaha requires a player to utilize a combination of hole cards and community cards in order to formulate the best, strongest 5-card hand. The primary difference between the two games is that Omaha sees each player dealt 4 hole cards, of which only 2 can be utilized in their final hand. Like Hold’em, the winner of a hand of Omaha is the person who either has the strongest hand or the one who is left standing after every other player has folded.
Razz Poker is a game that is won by the person holding the best A-5 (low) hand. Throughout a given hand, players are dealt 7 cards, however only 5 of them can be used when it comes time for the showdown. Utilizing the California System (way of ranking low hands), a winner is determined. Because Straights and Flushes are not considered, the absolute best Razz Poker hand is 5, 4, 3, 2, A.
7 Card Stud
7 Card Stud utilizes cards that are dealt to players both face-up and face-down and the winner is the one who holds the strongest hand. In a lot of ways Stud is like Hold’em, however the manner and order in which cards are dealt differs slightly.
8 of Better
8 or better is also known as Omaha Hi-Lo. The rules of this game are very similar to traditional Omaha, however the “hi-lo” aspect of the game means that every pot is split between one qualifying hi hand and one qualifying lo hand. In this game, qualifying lo hands cannot have a card higher than 8, while qualifying hi hands cannot have a card lower than 9.
How to Play HORSE Poker
Now that you know a little bit more about the basic structure of the games that make up HORSE Poker, it is only right that we move on to explaining just how the game works when it is all tied together. Though it may seem too simple to believe, HORSE Poker is executed by playing the component games that make it up, in order. A crucial factor in your ability or inability to play HORSE Poker is your understanding of all the rules of all the variants that are involved. If, for example, you are a great Hold’em player but do not know how to play Omaha, 7 Card Stud, nor 8 or Better, you are going to have a tough time coming out on top in the long run.
In almost all cases, you will find that, with each new hand of HORSE Poker the poker variant being played also changes. With that being said, however, it is not completely uncommon to find a brick and mortar or online casino that will have you play, for example, 3 hands in a row of each variant before moving on to the next. Typically, the exact order of games will be explained and made very clear before the game ensues.
The biggest piece of advice that can be offered when it comes to playing HORSE Poker and exceling at it is to keep your mind in the right place. Because there are 5 different types of poker being player, players who may enjoy one variant or may be more skilled at a given variant than others will see their attention shift to the upcoming hand and not the one that is in front of them. This is a pitfall that many inexperienced HORSE players fall victim to. In addition to fully understanding the rules of the 5 poker variants involved, a player must fully focus their attention on the hand that is in front of them. This alone is one of the many reasons why HORSE Poker is so difficult to dominate. The game’s inherently challenging nature is what is making it so popular at both brick and mortar casinos and online casinos alike. As the game is introduced to an increasing number of players, it will undoubtedly grow in popularity.