29 May

How to Play HORSE and Other Mixed Games

How to Play HORSE and Other Mixed Games

Thanks to high-profile professionals and the ever-evolving online poker community, mixed poker games are getting a lot more exposure these days. No-Limit Hold’em remains king, and no one is looking to dethrone, but more and more players are seeking greater variety, greater entertainment, a greater challenge on the live and virtual felt; all things mixed poker games deliver.

How to Play Mixed Poker Games

The first mixed game to catch on was H.O., a simple, alternating game of NL Hold’em and Omaha Hi/Lo. This quickly evolved into games like H.O.E., H.O.S.E., and the most well known of them all, H.O.R.S.E. Each letter stands for a different poker variant in the rotation. Today, you’ll learn what they mean, and how to play them.

  1. How Mixed Games Work: Mixed poker games are nothing more than a mixture of common poker variants, played in rotation. Simple as it sounds, it takes a lot of getting used to…
  2. H = NL Texas Hold’em: NL Hold’em is the most popular of all poker titles, and the cornerstone of any mixed poker game. You must to how to play Texas Holdem to compete
  3. O = Omaha High/Low: Omaha is the standard follow-up to Holdem in a mixed game. The rules of Omaha are a bit more interesting, as is the strategy you’ll want to apply
  4. R = Razz (7 Stud Low): Razz is the low-hand-only edition of 7 Card Stud. You won’t need a “qualifying” low hand to win the pot. Learning how to play Razz is the easy part…
  5. S = Seven Card Stud: One of the oldest poker games in North America, 7 Card Stud requires a little knowledge, and a lot of skill, particularly in the area of poker psychology
  6. E = Eight or Better (7 Stud High/Low): The perfect blend of “R” and “S”, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo is a split-pot game where half goes to the high hand winner, half to a qualifying low hand…
  7. 8-Game Mix – T.H.O.R.S.E.H.A.: This is a special mixture of 8 poker games, including 2-7 Triple Draw, FL Hold’em, Omaha H/L, Razz, 7 Stud, 7 Stud H/L, NL Hold’em, and PLO…
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1. How to Play HORSE and Other Mixed Games

As we’ve already established, a mixed game is a combination of standard poker variants, all mashed together. Each game in the rotation is represented by a letter. H.O.R.S.E., being the most recognized of all mixed games, is the foundation of all descriptive text on the matter. Its abbreviation will help define all other mixed games of shorter names. We’ll also discuss the pro-favorite 8-Game Mix later in this dissertation.

  • H = Hold’em (Texas Hold’em)*
  • O = Omaha (Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better)
  • R = Razz (7 Card Stud Low)
  • S = 7 Card Stud (High)
  • E = Eight or Better (7 Card Stud Hi/Lo)

Other abbreviations you might see in a mixed game format include:

  • A = Pot Limit Omaha
  • T = 2-7 Triple Draw

*Unless otherwise specified, H = No Limit Texas Hold’em. In some games, such as an 8-Game Mix, it may represent Limit Hold’em. Be sure to review the rules so you know what you’re getting into.

In mixed cash games, each variant in the cycle lasts one complete rotation of the dealer button. If there are 6 players at the table, you’ll play six hands of Hold’em, then six hands of Omaha Hi/Lo. Next is six hands of Razz, followed by 7 Card Stud, then Eight or Better. At this point the cycle begins anew, starting again with six hands of Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, etc. In tournaments, the rotation of games often changes with each new blind level.

2. H = Texas Hold’em

Odds are, if you know how to play poker, you’re already very familiar with Texas Hold’em. When the “H” appears in a mixed poker game, you know it means Hold’em is in the line-up. Most often, it will be NL Hold’em (NLHE). If the limit is not specified, it’s safe to assume NL is the structure. Some mixed games will call for Fixed Limit (FL) Hold’em, so it’s always better skim over the rules before you start.

If you need to learn the rules, or just want a quick refresher, I highly recommend giving this document a read. It also includes a lesson in Hold’em tips and strategies to help maximize your win rate.

3. O = Omaha High/Low

Omaha is another extremely popular poker variant, and the natural follow-up to NLHE in most mixed game assortments. The High/Low edition is a split pot game wherein the player with the highest ranking poker hand wins half the pot. If any player has a qualifying (8 or Better) low hand, the lowest hand claims the other half.

The following link will teach you the complete rules of Omaha H/L 8B, and includes a strategy guide to improve your game.

Note that Omaha can also be represented by an “A” in a mixed game. When labeled A, instead of O, it means the game will be played in Pot Limit format (a.k.a. Pot Limit Omaha, or PLO). You’ll learn more about this mixed game variant in our description of 8-Game Mix below.

4. R = Razz

Razz is the lowball version of the classic card game, Seven Card Stud. Instead of competing for the highest ranking poker hand, players are looking to make the worst hand possible. In this game, the lowest hand wins the pot. Aces are the lowest rank, and there’s no accounting for straights or flushes. Therefore the best possible hand – the lowest of them all – is A-2-3-4-5.

You can learn more about this game, including the complete rules and winning strategy tips, here:

5. S = Seven Card Stud

The original 7 Card Stud poker game is represented by an S in any mixed game abbreviation. This classic card game is teeming with betting rounds, as each player (who doesn’t fold) receives seven cards with which to form a 5-card poker hand. The highest ranking hand wins the pot.

Below is a link to a comprehensive rules and strategy page that should help you get your bearings before jumping into the fray.

6. E = Eight or Better (7 Stud H/L)

The “E’ in mixed games stands for Eight or Better; the colloquial term for low hand qualification in a game of 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo. For the most part, the H/L edition is a split-pot mash-up of 7 Card Stud and Razz, except that winning the low pot will require a qualifying hand; hence the term, “8 or Better”.

This is the game that most players need more practice in before sitting down at a game of H.O.R.S.E. You can refine your knowledge of the game, and get some useful strategy advice, by visiting this page.

7. 8-Game Mix – T.H.O.R.S.E.H.A.

In professional circles, prestigious tournaments, and major online poker lobbies, you may see the term 8-Game Mix on the menu. This is the more popular way to say T.H.O.R.S.E.H.A., which is the extended abbreviation for all 8 games in the rotation. They include:

  • T = Limit Deuce to Seven Triple Draw
  • H = Limit Texas Hold’em
  • O = Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
  • R = Limit Razz
  • S = Limit 7 Card Stud
  • E = Limit Eight or Better (7 Stud Hi/Lo)
  • H = No Limit Texas Hold’em
  • A = Pot Limit Omaha

Most of the games in the line-up have already been covered in the sections above. You’ll find rules and strategy pages for 2-7 Triple Draw and PLO, as well as an explanation of FL, NL and PL limit structures, below.


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