How to Play HORSE

H.O.R.S.E. is a mixed poker game that consists of five separate games played in a set rotation. The games are Hold'em (H), Omaha (O), Razz (R), Seven Card Stud (S), and Seven Card Stud Eight or Better (E). The rotation of the games is often determined by number of hands played, or by fixed minutes or hours. This page will teach you how to play HORSE poker, and will discuss the rotation of the games.

Objective of HORSE

Of course, in HORSE poker players are trying to make money. There are two ways you can win a hand in HORSE - either by betting enough that everyone else folds, or by showing down the best poker hand at the end of the hand. To increase your win rate at HORSE you need to become familiar with all five of the games, and be able to adapt quickly each time the game changes at the table. Read on for the full rules of the game:

HORSE Poker Structure

HORSE is always played in a fixed limit structure, and there can be a maximum of eight players at the table because Seven Card Stud can only accommodate eight total players (players receive more cards in Seven Stud, so it is easy to exhaust the deck with nine players).

HORSE tables are referred to by their betting stakes. For example, a $1/$2 table would have a small bet of $1 and a big bet of $2. Depending on what game you are playing at the moment, HORSE may use blinds or antes. The rotation of the games is decided upon by either a time limit or a hands limit for each game. We will fully discuss that later.


HORSE poker is a mixed game that is comprised of five different poker games: Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. If you are not sure how to play all of those games, make sure to check out the following pages to learn the individual game rules:

The Rotation

Many casinos and poker sites handle the rotation of games differently. For example, in the WSOP HORSE event each game is played for one hour rounds, then play switches to the next game. However, on many poker sites like PokerStars, play switches every eight hands, which results in game switches every five minutes or so.

This affects play because in hour long rounds, a Hold'em specialist could accumulate chips during the Hold'em hour, then protect them during the other rounds, but if games are switching every eight hands you need to be able to play every game effectively or you will never get in a rhythm.

Where to Play HORSE?

HORSE is rarely played in live casinos because it requires additional dealer training, and most players don't fully understand the game so they don't want to play. However, since online poker rooms don't have to hire dealers almost every poker site offers HORSE and some of its variants. See the best HORSE poker sites.

History of H.O.R.S.E

H.O.R.S.E. has seen a surge of popularity lately, mainly because of its inclusion in the 2006 WSOP. For the first time the WSOP added a $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event, and it was seen as the true test of a poker player's skill. Since the buy-in was so high, everyone thought that only the pros would be able to enter, and since it was a rotation game including all of the major poker games, everyone thought it was prove who was the best all around poker player.

Almost every major professional entered the event, because pros love proving their poker skill, as opposed to just their No Limit Texas Hold'em skill. In total, 143 players plunked down the $50,000 to test their luck, and the field was packed with notable names including Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Doyle Brunson. In the end it was Chip Reese who took it down, further proving that the game was a true test of skill.

Variants of H.O.R.S.E.

Besides just H.O.R.S.E. other mixed games have grown in popularity as of late. Some of the variants include H.O.S.E., which is the same as H.O.R.S.E. but without the Razz game. Also, poker sites like Full Tilt Poker have instituted mixed games of H.A. (Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha Hi), H.O. (Hold'em and Limit Omaha Hi/Lo), H.O.E. (Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Stud Eight or Better), and O.E. (Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo).

How to Win at H.O.R.S.E.

H.O.R.S.E. isn't all about specific strategies, it also takes into account a players ability to focus and switch gears. To be a great H.O.R.S.E. player you should not only know each game fully, but also know your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as your opponents' strengths and weaknesses.

If you are a strong Hold'em and Omaha player, but weak at Razz and Stud, you can gain an instant edge by playing more Hold'em and Omaha hands, and slowing your game down when the Razz and Stud rotations come around. Learn more by reading our poker strategy.

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