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Introduction to HORSE

Beginners Guide to Playing HORSE Poker

For many players there comes a time when they just don't feel like playing their Texas Hold'em anymore. There are several reasons for this. For some players, they just happen to be bored because maybe they are beating their current stakes or have only played this one game and nothing else. Others may have been trying for a long period of time to get better and have found no success in doing so. But for whatever the reason, players tend to make a switch and learn a different poker variation with the most common switch being Hold'em players moving to Omaha.

But what if there was something more interesting to try, and offered more than one game for you to master? Would you be interested in giving it a shot? Is there even such a game that exists?

There sure is and it is called HORSE. What is HORSE? Well, it is a mixed game variation that offers 5 different games, one for each letter that spells its name. So, the letter H would stand for Hold'em, O for Omaha Hi/Lo, R for Razz, S for Stud and E for Stud Eight or Better. All of these games are played in the order of how the name is spelled and each game has its own rules to play by.

Not sure what those rules are but would like to give HORSE a try? That's not a problem since we have all the information you need below. If your still having trouble picking up the game, have a look at our HORSE Poker page which gives a more in-depth look and also lists the best poker sites for HORSE Poker.

HORSE Poker Rules

Before we get into the overview of each game that is played, here are a few rules that affect the game as a whole.
Most of the rules for HORSE poker will be the same between cash games, sit n go's and tournaments. The biggest difference is that in cash games the different games will rotate every so many hands, generally 10, while in sit n go's and tournaments the games rotate every new blind level.

There is still a dealer button for Hold'em and Omaha but once Razz has started the button will be frozen in front of the last button person who had it in the last hand of Omaha. This is done to ensure that everyone pays the same amount of blinds.

HORSE Poker – Limit Hold'em

In Hold'em there are 4 rounds total, one for cards being dealt and 4 for betting. It starts with the blinds being posted by the first two players to the left of the dealer button with one player paying half of the small blind and the other player betting the small blind. For example, in a $2/$4 game, the small blind would post $1 and the big blind would post $2. Once the blinds have been posted, each player is dealt 2 cards faced down followed by a round of betting. Betting is done using the fixed limit format which restricts players to make the smaller of the two bets for the first two rounds and the bigger of the two bets on the last two rounds. Raises are capped at 3 per round.

Once the betting round is completed, the dealer then deals the flop which is 3 of the 5 community cards made available to the players to use. After the flop is another betting round followed by the fourth community card also known as the Turn or 4th street. The Turn is followed by another round of betting then the 5th community card which is known as the river or 5th street. After 5th street is the final round of betting. The goal in Hold'em is to make the best 5-card poker hand possible using any of the 7 cards available and the player with the best hand will win.

HORSE Poker - Omaha Hi/Lo

Omaha Hi/Lo is played the exact same way as Hold'em except for one key difference; players are dealt 4 hole cards faced down with only 2 (no more/no less) being used with 3 of the 5 community cards to make the best 5-card poker hand or the best 5-card low hand. All low hands must have 5 cards that are 8 or below. Pots can be split between two players should there be a hi and a low hand present.
Aside from being dealt 4 cards, Omaha will be played using the same format and rules.

HORSE Poker - Razz

The goal of Razz is for players to make the best 5-card low hand with the best hand being an A thru 5 which is also known as a wheel. Flushes and straights do not affect the value but pairs do. Any hand can qualify for a low, even K-Q-J-10-9; as long as it is the lowest hand it will win the pot. Razz is also the start of antes being used instead of blinds. Each player will pay the designated amount and the player with the highest door card showing will be the player who pays the ‘bring in' which is about half the amount of the small bet.

After the antes and bring in, players will be dealt 3 cards to start with, with the 3rd card being dealt face up. There is then a round of betting using the smaller of the two bet sizes. For example, in a $2/$4 game, players will be able to bet $2 for the first two betting rounds and then $4 for the last three. After the betting round, players will then be dealt 4th street face up followed by a round of betting using the smaller of the two bets. 5th and 6th street are identical to 4th street but each betting round will consist of the bigger of the two bet amounts. The last card is 7th street which is dealt faced down followed by the last round of betting. The player with the best 5-card low hand will win the pot.

HORSE Poker - Stud

Stud is played the exact same way as Razz except players will want to draw to the best 5-card poker hand as opposed to the lowest 5-card hand. Also, the ‘bring in' will be determined in Stud by the player who has the lowest door card as opposed to the highest door card in Razz. All of the other rules including betting and how the cards are dealt are identical to Razz.

HORSE Poker - Stud 8/0 - Stud Hi/Lo

Stud 8 or better will be played the same way as Stud Hi with the biggest difference being that players can draw to a low hand as well (similar to Omaha). To qualify for a low hand, players must have 5 cards that are all 8 or below. It is possible for two players to split the pot should there be both a hi hand and a low hand.
All other rules including betting and how the cards are dealt are the exact same as Stud Hi.

Learning How to Play HORSE

HORSE is considered by many to be the game that dictates who the best poker players are since all the different variations require its own skill set and strategy. So in short, HORSE would be an ideal alternative for players who are looking for a new and challenging poker variation(s) to try.