HORSE is actually an acronym describing a combination of five poker games:
HORSE is one of many popular mixed game variants. In large cash games in brick-and-mortar casinos, the players often agree to play a mix of poker games rather than a single game. This reduces the edge that a single-game specialist has, and emphasizes a player's breadth across multiple versions of poker. Many people feel that HORSE and other mixed games are the best judge of a player's true poker ability. It’s also part of the World Championship of Online Poker, held annually on PokerStars.
HORSE is played as one ‘round’ of each of its component games. It begins with Fixed Limit Hold'em, then rotates through Fixed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz (Seven Card Stud Low), Seven Card Stud (High Only), and finally Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. When the Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo round is complete, the game goes back to Fixed Limit Hold'em, and so on. You can tell which game is being dealt by looking at the top border of the table window.
When switching from Omaha Hi/Lo to Razz, the button is frozen. That way, when the game switches back to Hold'em (after Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo), nobody skips blinds, or pays extra blinds.
All the component games in HORSE are played Fixed Limit - there are no Pot Limit or No Limit games. The limits (such as €5/€10) are kept the same throughout the entire game rotation, and you play €5/€10 Fixed Limit Hold'em, then €5/€10 Fixed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, etc.
Playing HORSE is a great way to develop expertise in multiple games, and break up the monotony of playing a single game throughout a session. We encourage you to get comfortable with each of the component games first so you'll know what's going on, and then jump right into the HORSE games.
If you are unfamiliar with HORSE, we recommend you try the game for free first to get a feel for how it’s played. You are always welcome to play on our free poker tables at PokerStars, and sharpen your skills before playing real money poker.
Finally, if you like to play other Mixed Game variants, we recommend you check out our Hold’em/Omaha games, or 8-Game Mix. These games are a nice change of pace from the popular Texas Hold’em, and they are also available in our poker tournaments selection.
It is important to work on maximizing your wins while playing your strongest games and minimizing your losses in your weaker games. Try to recognize which players excel at each game to decide which players to be wary of, and which players to attack. The best way to prepare for a HORSE ring game or tournament is to improve your weak areas by playing the variations that you don't play often. Once you are in a HORSE game, only play your strongest hands in your weakest games. The key is to push your advantage in your best games and cover up any weaknesses by only playing above average hands in the other games.
A variation of HORSE, HOSE follows the same rules and structures listed above, but you don't play Razz. As Razz is by far the least often played game of the ones in HORSE, HOSE eliminates it and makes this type of structure playable by more players.
S Seven Card Stud
E Seven Card Stud, 8-or-better
Notice that both of these games favour strong Seven Card Stud players, and minimize the advantage of the best Texas Hold’em players. Also be wary of playing these structures with ‘older’ players unless you have experience in each game. They are much more likely to play many games well than younger players.
You may also be interested in visiting pages about the poker room in general. You can find information about the following subjects: