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What Is HORSE Poker?

H.O.R.S.E. Poker, also known as HORSE, is a multi-game poker format where players rotate through five different poker variants over the course of the game. The five games typically included in H.O.R.S.E. are as follows:

  • (H) Hold'em: A classic fixed-limit Texas Hold'em format with blinds and raises pre-determined.
  • (O) Omaha Hi-Lo: Players build both the highest and the lowest five-card hand using two hole cards and three community cards.
  • (R) Razz: The focus is on creating the lowest possible five-card hand, and aces are high cards.
  • (S) Seven-Card Stud: Players receive three face-down cards and four face-up cards in rounds and aim to create the best five-card hand.
  • (E) Eight or Better (Stud Hi-Lo): It’s similar to Seven-Card Stud, but players compete for both the highest and the lowest five-card hand.

This makes it a dynamic and challenging format suitable for experienced poker players who enjoy variety and adapting their strategies. The HORSE poker variants are usually played in a fixed-limit betting structure and the game switches after each player has played a turn.

HORSE Poker Hand Rankings

HORSE Poker hand rankings are unique because they depend on the specific game played within the HORSE rotation. Here's a breakdown of each game:

  1. Hold'em: It follows standard poker hand rankings, with the highest hand (e.g. Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind) winning the pot.
  2. Omaha Hi-Lo: It requires considering both high and low hand potential. The high hand follows standard rankings, with the highest hand winning the high portion of the pot. The player with the lowest qualifying low hand wins the low portion of the pot.
  3. Razz: It requires creating the lowest possible hand. The best hand is five-high straight (5, 4, 3, 2, A). Aces are considered high, so A-2-3-4-5 is a strong low hand. Straights and flushes do not go against you but prevent forming a five-high straight.
  4. Seven-Card Stud: It follows standard poker hand rankings, with the highest five-card hand using three face-up cards and two hole cards winning the pot.
  5. Eight or Better: It’s similar to Seven-Card Stud, but players compete for both high and low hands. The high hand follows standard rankings. The low hand has the same rules as Omaha Hi-Lo, with eight-low or better required.

Remember, the HORSE games' order is fixed. Hand rankings change depending on the round being played.

How to Play HORSE Poker?

H.O.R.S.E. is a challenging and rewarding poker format that appeals to experienced players seeking variety and opportunities to use their multi-game poker skills. Each round of the HORSE poker game consists of one of the five games, played in a fixed order (H.O.R.S.E.).

In Texas Hold'em poker, each player is dealt two hole cards and five community cards. The players must make the best five-card hand to win the game. Players can use any number of hole and community cards.

Omaha Hi-Lo, each player is dealt four cards and is required to make the best five-card high hand and the best low hand using two out of four hole cards and three out of five community cards. Players compete for two halves of the pot.

In Razz poker, each player gets three hole cards and four other cards (visible to all the players). The best hand in Razz is a wheel straight A-2-3-4-5 as the lowest-ranking hand wins.

Seven-Card Stud is similar to Razz, but the standard poker hand rankings apply here.Eight or Better also has the same rules. However, the pot is split between the highest-ranking and lowest-ranking hands. The low hand must qualify the eight or better rule.

Players compete for points based on their finish in each round. The winner receives the most points, followed by lower points for subsequent positions. At the end of the fifth round, the player with the most overall points wins.

HORSE Poker Strategy Tips

HORSE poker is very dynamic and prevents boredom for experienced players. It requires mastery of multiple poker games and adaptability and presents unique opportunities for bluffing deception and position-based play.

  • Understand the poker rules and nuances of each game: Knowing the scoring system, hand rankings, and betting structures for each variant is crucial.
  • Play big in your specialized variant: If you specialize in one or two HORSE poker games, you can try playing for the big pots in those rounds.
  • Be adaptable and flexible: Change your hand selection and playing style based on the game.
  • Master bankroll management: HORSE can be volatile, so manage your bankroll carefully and avoid over-committing to your hands.
  • Positional awareness is critical: Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of poker positions in each round can significantly impact your game.
  • Practice and analyze your play: Regularly play HORSE games or its simulations to improve your skills and learn from your mistakes.

H.O.R.S.E. tournaments and cash games can offer attractive rewards to skilled players. By incorporating the above strategies and adapting them to specific game situations, you can develop a strong foundation for winning at HORSE poker.

Comparison of HORSE Poker Games

Here is a comparison of the five games that HORSE consists of, highlighting the key differences and similarities between them.

Format Hole Cards Community Cards Hand Ranking Betting Structure
Hold’em Yes Yes Standard poker rankings Fixed-limit
Omaha Yes Yes High and low hand rankings Fixed-limit
Razz Yes No Lowest hand wins Fixed-limit
Seven-Card Stud Yes No Standard poker rankings Fixed-limit
Stud Hi/Lo Yes No High and low hand rankings Fixed-limit


What does “HORSE” mean in poker?

HORSE is an acronym for the five poker games that are played as five rounds in the game:

  • H: Hold'em
  • O: Omaha Hi-Lo Split - Eight or Better
  • R: Razz
  • S: Seven-Card Stud
  • E: Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo

How do you win at HORSE poker?

Winning at HORSE poker requires mastering the five games and adapting your strategy to each round.

  • Adaptability:Players must adjust their strategies and hand selection based on the game.
  • Mastering multiple games: Understanding the nuances of each game within H.O.R.S.E. is crucial for success.
  • Positional awareness: Position in each round can significantly impact your decision-making and potential for points
  • Bankroll management: H.O.R.S.E. can be more volatile than single-game formats, requiring careful bankroll management.

What are the five games in HORSE?

The five games in HORSE are:

  • Hold'em
  • Omaha Hi-Lo Split - Eight or Better
  • Razz
  • Seven-Card Stud
  • Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo

These games are played as rounds in a fixed order (HORSE) throughout the game or tournament.

What are the hand rankings in HORSE poker?

The hand rankings in HORSE Poker are round-specific and depend on which of the five poker games is being played as the round. Therefore, you must know the hand rankings of Texas, Omaha, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Eight or Better.

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