H.O.R.S.E. Poker

H.O.R.S.E. Poker

H.O.R.S.E. Poker has become an exciting addition to the land and online poker circuits in recent years, although the roots of this game are deeply planted in the earliest history of poker.

H.O.R.S.E. Poker is essentially a combination of five different variants of the game, namely Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Stud Eight or Better.

The appeal of H.O.R.S.E. Poker lies in the exciting combination of all these games, which are played as a mixed poker game for a fixed betting limit and, usually, as a cash game at casinos or poker rooms. The great balance between two split pot games and three stud variants of poker make for exciting action and non-stop entertainment.

While many top poker players are proficient in one or two variants of poker, not many can claim to be specialists in all five versions of the game that make up H.O.R.S.E. Poker. For this reason, it is often said that a player’s true talent in poker can be seen if he or she is a good H.O.R.S.E. Poker player. The need to switch one’s mindset and skills from one variant to another, remembering the rules and strategies of each, under the natural pressure of competitive playing, makes H.O.R.S.E. Poker one of the more challenging games around.

Click for details on history, hand rankings/nicknames and poker terminology/glossary.

The Growth in Popularity of H.O.R.S.E. Poker in Recent Years

While the five variants of poker that make up H.O.R.S.E. Poker have always been popular in their own right, it wasn’t until the last decade that the attraction of H.O.R.S.E. Poker as a separate entity was fully revealed.

The culmination of H.O.R.S.E. Poker’s slow rise to popularity was felt in 2006 when the game was officially introduced as a variant in the World Series of Poker Tournament as Event # 20 – with a whopping $50,000 buy in! This high buy in price ensures that only the very best players in the world are able to take part in this event.

Today, H.O.R.S.E. Poker is as popular online as it is offline. Players who opt to play the game at online poker rooms will find the game in many different formats and at multiple wagering levels. Some casinos will offer a different version of H.O.R.S.E. Poker known as H.O.S.E (with the Razz variant eliminated), or similar options.

The Games that Make up H.O.R.S.E. Poker

As noted, there are five components that make up the variant of poker known as H.O.R.S.E. Poker which are:

Texas Hold'em
Seven Card Stud
Eight or Better

  • Texas Hold'em is probably the most popular form of community card poker today, and has players completing their best possible poker hand through the use of two hole cards and five community cards.
  • Omaha – A game that is similar to Texas Hold'em in that it is also a community card game. In Omaha, players need to make the best possible poker game through the use of three out of five community cards, as well as two out of four dealt cards.
  • Razz – Players need to make the best possible ­ lowest poker hand from seven dealt cards in this stud poker variant.
  • Seven Card Stud – Players need to make the best possible poker hand by using face up and face down cards dealt throughout the game in this stud poker variant.
  • Eight or Better – This game mirrors Seven Card Stud Poker, however it follows the hi-low rules of stud poker.

Rules for H.O.R.S.E. Poker

H.O.R.S.E. Poker generally adopts the rules of each of the poker variants mentioned above when they are being played in sequence. There are no hard and fast rules regarding how or when rotation of the five components of the game take place, and there are quite a few accepted versions. In general, the games are usually rotated in the way the letters progress (ie. First Texas Hold'em is played, followed by Omaha, and so on).

In some casinos, the rules are that rotation takes place after a certain number of hands of each variant have been played. Another option is to have a time limit on each component so that, for example, the game begins with 30 minutes of Texas Hold'em, followed by 30 minutes of Omaha, and so forth.

In some cases, the games rotate as the blinds increase, while sometimes they rotate with the dealer button. The latter option affords players an equal opportunity to play each game in each position and can be found in ring games.

Strategies for H.O.R.S.E. Poker

Because H.O.R.S.E. Poker attracts so many skilled players who are familiar with all five components that make up the game, this particular variant does not have as many strategies as other variants of poker.

As such, the best strategy that a player can adopt is familiarizing himself as much as possible with the rules and strategies of the individual games that make up H.O.R.S.E. Poker and adapt them to the game that is taking place.

Another strategy is to build a lead in the poker component that you specialize in the most. This gives players flexibility when they are down in a game that they are less skilled in.

It’s always wise to stick to the general strategy of tight-aggressive play, which usually yields the best results in a game of skill.

The most important action in H.O.R.S.E. Poker takes place during the Texas Hold ‘em game, especially the final round, and so it is essential to make the most aggressive moves in this stage of the game, as this is the player’s greatest chance of making money.

Players are also reminded that they should concentrate on that particular segment of the game and not think about the upcoming components, as this could lead to them miss out on important play in the current game.

Finally, a general rule of thumb is that amateurs should steer clear away from H.O.R.S.E. Poker as it is truly a game that attracts highly skilled players who play for huge stakes in many cases.


The attraction of H.O.R.S.E. Poker is the fact that it manages to combine very exciting and different variants of the game and offer them to players as one entity. The need to switch from game to game, each with its own skills and strategies, means that only the best players can be truly good in H.O.R.S.E. Poker. Its growing popularity can be felt at land based events such as the World Series of Poker and at online poker sites where this variant is greatly sought after.

Posted by CCJ Team