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How to Play HORSE Poker

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What is HORSE Poker?

HORSE Poker, or just H.O.R.S.E (HORSE) is a variant of poker that accommodates five different poker games in rotation. HORSE is the most common mixed game, incorporating five poker disciplines. As well as the core poker games of Texas Hold'em and Omaha, the rotation includes Razz and both Stud and Stud Hi/Lo.

Here we go over the poker rules for H.O.R.S.E.

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How to Play HORSE Poker

HORSE is played with these five games in the following order. Each game lasts for one 'round' before moving to the next. Once the Stud Hi/Lo round is complete, the rotation returns to Hold'em. Each game is played as Fixed Limit, meaning there are no Pot Limit or No Limit games in HORSE.

There are two types of game within HORSE: Flop games, and Board games. Flop games (Hold'em and Omaha Hi/Lo) involve hole cards and a flop, turn and river being dealt, whereas Board games (Razz, Stud, and Stud Hi/Lo) involve some of your cards being open for your opponents to see.

The games can be broken down further, with two of the five games played as Split Pot. That means that in Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo, half the pot is awarded to the best hand (Hi) and the other half is awarded to the worst hand (Lo).

Each game requires a closer look at its own strategy, so we recommend you head to the PokerNews Poker Rules section for more help on each individual game.

2019 H.O.R.S.E. Championship Winner Greg Mueller
Greg Mueller won his third WSOP bracelet in the 2019 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship

Position is not equal across all HORSE variants. In Hold'em and Omaha Hi/Lo, the button will be as important as ever. However, in the board games position will vary with each street.

In Razz: the lowest board will be first to act, with others following round clockwise in position
In Stud and Stud Hi/Lo: the highest board will start, with others following round clockwise in position.

Make sure to keep this in mind as you approach the board games.

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Hand Rankings in HORSE Poker

The Hand Rankings for HORSE Poker depend on which variant you are playing. In Hold'em and Omaha, the best hand is still a Royal Flush, five cards of the same suit, ranked ace through ten.

A Royal Flush is also the best hand in Seven Card Stud, and will be the best hand for the Hi portion of the pot in Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo Eight or Better.

The best hand in Razz is a wheel straight: five cards, ranked ace through five. This is also the best hand for the Lo portions of the portion in Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo.

How to Play Hold'em in HORSE Poker

Hand selection is always important in Texas Hold'em, but it is crucial when it comes to HORSE. Playing Limit Hold'em, your bluffing opportunities will be a lot scarcer. Therefore you should look to secure value where you can, especially in multiway pots where inexperienced players may look to call you down on the river with weaker holdings.

Hand selection is always important in Texas Hold'em, but it is crucial when it comes to HORSE

How to Play Omaha Hi/Lo in HORSE Poker

Similarly to Hold'em, you should look for value in Omaha Hi/Lo. However, you should always be looking to compete for both halves of the pot - the Hi and the Lo.

Don't fall into the trap of overvaluing weaker hands like two-pair, or draws like a straight draw on a flush draw board. Just like in Hold'em, you should be looking to play strong ranges and making the post of position and aim to play against the weaker Omaha players at the table.

How to Play Razz in HORSE Poker

Razz may seem daunting to inexperienced players, but it doesn't have to be. Just remember it as the opposite of Seven Card Stud. That means that instead of the best hand being a Royal Flush such as 10JQKA, the best hand is actually a wheel straight Ax2x3x4x5x.

A decent rule for Razz is: don't leave home without an Ace

Starting hands are important. You should be looking for low cards, naturally, and for them to continue on fourth, fifth and sixth street. Always keep an eye out for your opponents who may overvalue low hole cards despite a pair showing. Also be aware for players who might think they are playing Stud!

A decent rule for Razz is: don't leave home without an Ace.

Players battling it out at the 2019 WSOP HORSE

How to Play Seven Card Stud in HORSE Poker

One of the oldest and most-played poker variants is Seven Card Stud. Everyone wants to be rolled up, and eventually rake in a huge pot against their opponents.

It never hurts to brush up on your Stud skills, especially as certain older players at your table might consider this their best game. Remember to keep an eye on your opponents' boards as well as your own.

How to Play Stud Hi/Lo Eight or Better in HORSE Poker

As the second split pot game in HORSE, you should be looking to "scoop" or win both the Hi and Lo portions of the pot. While you might not always get dealt a steel wheel (a straight flush from Ace to Five), you can always look to punish weaker opponents. It may be clear from their boards that they are targeting either the Hi or Lo. That can be a chance for you to exploit them, looking to scoop both pots.

Top HORSE Strategy Tips

The most basic strategy advice for playing HORSE poker is to understand the games and the order in which they will be played. That step is simple - just remember HORSE and you'll automatically know the order the game is played in.

Always pay attention when the game switches, especially towards the end of the rotation when Razz, Stud and Stud Hi/Lo come back to back. It may be easy to tell the difference between Hold'em and Omaha - two cards instead of four cards - but knowing which board game you are playing is crucial.

Another important thing to pay attention to is whether your opponents have any weaker games. They might choose to tighten up considerably during one of the games, Razz for example, so you should look to play more Razz hands against that player. Conversely, if your opponent appears to be stronger in a particular game then be wary. However, they too might over-extend themselves by opening up their game even more than they normally would.

The best piece of HORSE strategy advice is to practice and experience the game. This way you'll feel equally comfortable not only playing each individual game, but playing them as part of a rotation.

Major HORSE Tournament Winners

DateEventWinnerPayoutReport
June 2019WSOP $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.Murilo Souza$207,003Recap
June 2019WSOP $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. ChampionshipGreg Mueller$425,347Recap
July 2019WSOP $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.Denis Strebkov$206,173Recap
January 2020Aussie Millions A$2,500 H.OR.S.E.Dzmitry UrbanovichA$28,755Recap

HORSE FAQs

What does HORSE mean in poker?

HORSE is an acronym for the five poker disciplines that make up the game. Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight or Better (Stud Hi/Lo)

How is HORSE poker played?

HORSE poker is played as a mixture of Flop and Board games across five poker disciplines.

What is a board game in HORSE?

Razz, Stud, and Stud Hi/Lo are the board games in HORSE.

What are the flop games in HORSE?

Hold'em and Omaha Hi/Lo are the flop games in HORSE.

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