Mixed games have seen a spike in interest as many poker players seek to expand on the scope of their poker skills. HORSE Poker is one of the most popular mixed game structures due to the variety and diversity of the poker variants involved. Consisting of a rotating cycle of Texas H
old'em Poker, O
maha Hi/Lo Split Eight or Better, R
azz, 7 Card S
tud, and 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Split E
ight or Better, HORSE Poker breaks up the monotony that many players experience when grinding out hand after hand of the same poker form.
Because HORSE Poker is a mixed game, the poker variant being dealt changes periodically. Obviously, the primary objective is to form the best five-card hand at the table; however, the best hand to have will vary somewhat from one game to the next. Due to the steady rotation of game variants in HORSE Poker, a working knowledge of each game represented in the mix is an absolute necessity.
The length of each round varies depending on the venue, however the order of the rounds is consistent. The first round of HORSE is Limit Texas Hold'em, in which players attempt to win the pot with the highest ranking five-card hand. Omaha Hi/Lo Split 8 or Better makes up the second round of HORSE Poker, in which the highest and lowest ranking hands split the pot evenly. Razz
, the third round of HORSE Poker, is played exactly like 7 Card Stud, except that the worst (lowest) hand wins the pot. The fourth HORSE Poker round is 7 Card Stud Poker
, awarding the pot to the highest ranking stud hand. 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Eight or Better is the final round of HORSE, in which the highest and lowest stud hands divide the poker winnings.
Once played exclusively in private, high stakes games
, HORSE Poker began to receive attention from the greater public in 2006 when the $50,000 HORSE event was first introduced to the prestigious World Series of Poker. Many professional poker players
consider HORSE Poker to be the defining test of a poker players true skill, giving more credence to the range of a player's talents than to the mastery of a single poker form.
The inaugural HORSE event at the WSOP saw David "Chip" Reese take down over $1.7 million in a field of 143 of the greatest professional and recreational poker players in the world. Since then, the field of players participating in the World Championship HORSE event at the WSOP has continued to grow, awarding the coveted first place prize to Freddy Deeb
(2007), Scotty Nguyen (2008) and David Bach (2009).
Online, HORSE Poker has also gained significant favor, especially as an online poker tournament
offering. The constant rotation of games forces players to reassess their strategic approach to each round of HORSE Poker, pushing players to the limits of their own capabilities. Certainly not a mixed game intended for beginners, truly serious poker players take the opportunity to immerse themselves in each of the variants present in HORSE Poker - and other mixed games - in order to advance their knowledge, experience, and dominance over a multitude of poker forms.