Poker has been known for its innovations in terms of variations, and Horse Poker is the outcome of one such experiment. Horse poker does not refer to a single game. Instead, it is a mixed game that is formed with a combination of poker variants. H.O.R.S.E is an acronym that represents Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight or Better. These are the five games you will be playing under a Horse game which is why you need to be good at each poker variant. Playing Horse games put your overall poker skill to the test because you need to adapt to each variant.
Horse games are generally played with pot limit rules where the game changes after a complete rotation from the dealer position. For those familiar with games like no-limit Hold’em, it is important for you to be accustomed to this fixed limit version of the game. The rules, betting rounds, hand rankings, etc., also change with the change in the game being played. Games are played as per the acronym where you start with Texas Hold’em and end with Eight or Better. Cash games could go under a loop of repetition with these variants where the Horse game might never end.
Learn Horse Poker Strategy
To conquer Horse poker, you will have to stick to a tried and tested formula that works for each poker variant. Now, this comes down to personal preference in terms of which tactics work for you and which ones you are confident to execute. If you make the mistake of judging your opponents during the early stages and make wild bets, this might come back to haunt you.
The point to consider here is that not everyone is the champion every single variant. You might see that the person playing closed for the first few hands might shift gears instantly during a later game. Unless you do not spend enough time to analyze how your opponents are behaving, you won’t be able to differentiate between a bluff and a legitimate decision. Therefore, before we get into how you can play each variation to win the Horse game, here are a couple of common points to bear in mind.
Manage Your Odds
You might not be the best at all five of the games played in Horse events. You might not even be familiar with some variants as much. However, even if there is one game that you are more confident at than other variants, then go all-out at it. Play as aggressively as possible and try to fetch some big wins in the variant you are most comfortable with. This will automatically compensate for the losses you may incur in other games. You should play as conservatively as possible in the variants you aren’t confident about. This way, you can cut your losses and turn the odds in your favour.
Act in The Moment
The advantage with most poker games is that you are fully familiar with what you signed-up for and you have a game plan prepared based on which you will play. You tend to develop a strategy that works for you and apply it. In a Horse poker game, you will have to change things on the flight. Some of the biggest swings occur in the first few hands in the new game which you need to capitalize on. Pay attention to when a game has changed as not doing so could see you play a completely different game from the rest of the table, which is as embarrassing as it is loss-making.
With those two points equipped in your playbook, here is how you can turn each of the five variants in your favour during the Horse poker game.
The first game you will be presented to play will also be the one with the lowest blinds. It is advised that you play tight and wait for premium hands. However, if you see an opening where a lesser hand would work, be confident and go for it. You could use the first round to feel your opponents, get familiar with how they act and then try and steal the chips when the opportunity presents itself.
Omaha is the second game that you will be playing from the five-game Horse series. Here, your best strategy would be to play as tight as you can and scoop the pot. As the game moves forward, you can begin to play with more freedom and aggression. But for the early stage, play premium hands and aim for a big score.
The third game that you will be playing is Razz, where now the focus would be on making the lowest hand possible. Players here must look to find weaknesses early in the game, much like you would in Hold’em. From here, you can slowly build your chip stack. This is the middle stage of the Horse game so you can start to put a more aggressive play on display where you play more loosely than you did previously.
Seven Card Stud
Down to the second last game in the Horse format, you will be playing Seven Card Stud. You should continue to play core stud strategy since here once again you must make the best five-card hand you possibly can out of the seven cards you’re dealt with. By this point, you must assess the tournament. Do you see a chance to win? Are the odds in your favour? What are the chip stacks like? How many are still playing? Based on this, you can push the aggression.
Eight or Better
The final game in the league is Eight or Better also known as Seven Card Stud Hi Lo. Here on the game will be clear. If you observe multi-way approaches towards winning the pot, then play premium hands by sticking to fundamental Hi Lo strategies and try to scoop the pot. If the situation has tightened and there are multiple pots being heads up, then play high hands and aim for the smaller pots.
Just as with any other form of poker game, the more you play Horse, the better you get at it. You will need a complete understanding of poker in order to excel in all five games. And if you are looking for a place to get started, then Spartan Poker is just the platform for you. Sign-up and register for our poker tournaments, play the different variations we offer and acquire as much knowledge as you need about the game through our many blogs and website pages.