Horse poker is among many common variants of mixed games. The players often agree to play a mix of poker games in large cash games in brick-and-mortar casinos, rather than a single game. This reduces the edge a single-game specialist has and highlights the breadth of a player across multiple versions of poker. Many people feel that Horse poker and other mixed games are the best judge on the actual poker ability of a player.
Most players in a Horse poker or tournament may be qualified in one or two of the games but will have significant shortcomings in the rest of the games. Hence it will be very beneficial to become a fair player in all the variants.
Horse poker, an interesting variant of poker is based on an acronym- “HORSE.” The games are always played in the following order in this game of mix:
- Texas Holdem
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- Seven Card Stud
- Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo (Split Eight or Better)
Horse poker is a game that takes a broad range of skills to excel in, but it is possible to succeed in each game with solid poker fundamentals. It’s the inherent variation in Horse poker that helps the strongest players to do so well because most players will do well in one or two games while playing average in the others at best.
It is important to bear in mind which game is being played because playing the wrong game will give you some pretty adverse outcomes. In particular, assuming that you are playing Razz while you are really playing Stud is highly counterproductive, as you want the low hand in Razz when you want the high hand in Stud. You will sometimes see a player making bets that don’t make sense to fit with their up cards
Horse Poker Game Types
The games that makeup Horse Poker:
- Texas Holdem:
Position and start hand selection will be crucial in the Holdem portion of the game. This is the game most people know best, and you will be playing a good value set as well. Outplaying your opponents will not usually be an option as Hold’em will limit the game, and bluffing will rarely be profitable. However, you can value bet thinner by the same token, mostly by betting three streets in heads-up pots with a side like the top set. In multi-way pots, you will strive to be even more value-driven.
When you have a very weak player on your right, it’s smart to open up your ranges a bit to play more pots against this opponent. Since Texas Holdem maybe their weakest game, you want to make the most of that during the Hold’em rounds as much as possible.
- Omaha Hi-Lo
In Horse poker, the Omaha strategy will be very similar in nature to Hold’em. Omaha will be their second-best game for many of the “specialists” of the Holdem because it is the most similar to Holdem.
But, in their Omaha game, Holdem players appear to have common deficiencies. They ‘re typically going to over-value weak hands (because hands like two-pair are relatively strong in Texas Hold’em). They may think weaker Omaha drawings (like straight drawings on a flush draw board) are stronger than they actually are. As in Hold’em, these players are punished by playing wide ranges and betting for money, because they are going to call down with weaker hands than they should.
Position should once again be a key factor in your decision-making process, and you can considerably extend your range from the button. Locate the weakest Omaha players at the table again, and try to play more pots against them, particularly in position. These players are going to make the most mistakes and thus allow us to play the broadest profitable range.
You will usually start seeing much weaker play during the Razz portion of a Horse Poker game. Razz isn’t as common as Hold’em or Omaha, and as such, your opponents will appear to have less experience and make more frequent, bigger errors.
Thus, starting hand selection is the most significant strategic aspect of playing the Razz part of a Horse poker. Play strong starting hands and other wheel-drawing hands and bet aggressively on value when your hand is the best you think.
Slow playing a hand is typically a mistake because most players play more passively. In some situations, if the pot has not been raised and you have the lowest door card showing, it’s fine to “steal” with a weak starting hand.
It is during the Razz rounds that inexperienced Horse poker players sometimes get confused about which variant is being played. This is probably only prevalent in tournaments online, with low buy-in or freeroll. Occasionally, though, you can find someone playing a very bad Razz hand as if they were the nuts. Take advantage of these by calling down or increasing interest. This error generally doesn’t last longer than one hand.
- Seven Card Stud
As in the Razz rounds, the secret to the Stud rounds is starting hand selection and betting on interest. Most players are going to overplay draws and bad one or two pair hands, so take advantage of them by betting with good hands and not bluffing too much.
Hand-reading is important in all types of poker, but it can be made much easier in Stud, because of how many face-up cards are on later streets. Most players aren’t going to get tricky with their hands, especially in multi-way pots. Typically, you may presume that if the actions of an opponent match with the looks of his up cards, then you know approximately what his hand is.
It will enable you to value the bet more thinly since if you know what your opponent holds, you know where you stand in comparison with 100 per cent certainty. Bear in mind though, that even if your opponent has very weak holdings, checking as opposed to bluffing might still be correct. Even weaker players don’t like folding down on 5th and 6th streets if they have done it so far.
- Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better
In principle, the strategy for splitting eight or better would be almost similar to the Stud strategy described above. In split eight or better, the main difference being that it is a split pot game, with half the pot going to the top hand and half the pot going to the low hand.
That makes playing hands that have a chance to “scoop” (winning the hi and the lo) absolutely crucial. These are hands like As2s3s where it is possible to reach a flush or straight, and a really strong low hand.
It’s also necessary to play appropriate hands with a chance to make a good top hand even if they slip the flush draw – so it’s ideal to have the opportunity to reach a straight or flush.
If someone at your table is fantastic at split eight or better, after playing Horse Poker’s razz and stud rounds, it should already be evident. They will have an understanding of relative strength of hand, and you will see them on average have stronger hands in the fight than your weaker opponents. As normal, punish the weaker players with powerful starting hands likely to become showdown-able, and always pay attention to all the cards on the board.
Horse Poker Game Stages
Position is one of the most significant variables in a given a hand at Hold’em and Omaha. Because of this, you should aim at playing wider ranges in position than out. That way, when you’re out of position, your card edge can compensate for your positional disadvantage, and you can play more pots if you have the positional advantage on your hand.
Also, note those capable opponents, and also some inept opponents will be positionally conscious and will, therefore, be in a position to play broader preflop ranges. They will also allow looser post-flop call-downs when they are in position.
Be sure to quickly try to determine who is positionally conscious and who is not. The best way to find out is generally to look out for the showdowns.
Razz, Stud, and 8 or better of them are match games. Not many pots will be taken down at a full table with a bet before the final street, particularly in split eight or better, where there are two half-pots to follow.
Then the trick to these games is to play hands that allow you to win the showdown and throw away those that need a lot of help in winning the showdown.
You will always expect a showdown a take a hand if you want to win it. A vital part of knowing when your side might make it a showdown is to pay attention to all the cards on the table. A drawing hand that could have been powerful is weakened dramatically if any of its outs are already seen on the board. Always pay attention to the board to grasp the chances of getting the hand done.
In most poker games but especially in limit games, betting on your strong hands is extremely important. There’s usually no interest in slow playing a hand when your opponent’s calling is impossible, but a chance they’ll bluff.
This is very rare, and when it comes up can be hard to find, so you’ll generally be better off taking the direct route and betting on your strong hands. Since the amount of money in the pot will be directly correlated with the number of bets and raises put in, you have to push the action by betting and raising your own value hands.
It is an ability to read someone’s hand at any poker game. A sufficient amount of content would not be addressed here, but there are a few key points to consider.
The hand-reading never takes place in a vacuum. Knowing the type of player that you play against is absolutely crucial when hand reading. Knowing how your opponents think will help you to correctly perceive a majority of their acts. Categorise your enemies and use the information to limit their ranges while you are against them with your hands. Actions that are out of character typically help to limit a range the fastest.
- Playing against a singly experienced opponent
One of the keys to becoming a triumphant Horse poker player, as has been mentioned in this post, is to recognize which players have what weaknesses in which games. The only way to deal with an opponent that is substantially better in one of the games is to avoid playing large pots in their strongest game with them.
Playing nutted hands and securing lucrative spots against them is good – but there is no need to go out of your way to play in pots against someone who would definitely make it difficult for you. In a event where they are not as solid, target them and reduce your contact with them when they are in their element.
- Playing against an “all-games” opponent
Occasionally you’ll run into a player who’s solid at all Horse poker rounds. This player would probably have a good grasp not only of individual strategies for each form of the game but also of the fundamentals of poker (position, aggression, hand-reading, etc.).
When this happens, that is not a positive thing, but it’s not the end of the world either. Typically, this sort of opponent can think higher than your other opponents, so you should expect them to hand-reading at least a little. Because of this, you are more probable to be able to get away with a convincing bluff but note that most likely they will have an idea of what your ranges are mostly. You should stop them in your weaker games against a powerful opponent like this and be careful of them in all of the games.
Horse poker is a game that takes a large range of skills to excel in, but it is possible to succeed in each game of Horse poker with strong poker fundamentals. It’s the inherent variation in Horse poker that helps the strongest players to do so well because most players will do well in one or two games while playing average in the others at best.
This ever-shifting skill weight is part of what makes Horse poker enjoyable for new players looking to extend their repertoire of poker play.
If you are not familiar with Horse poker, we recommend that you first try the game for free to get a feel for how it’s played. At Blitz Poker, you are always welcome to play at our free poker tables and sharpen your skills before you play real money poker games.
How to Play FAQ
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- Seven card Stud, &
- Seven card stud hi-low split-Eight or better.