The available selection of H.O.R.S.E strategy books has increased by one with the recent release of Getting Started with HORSE Poker – Mixing It Up: Volume 1, by Chris ‘Fox’ Wallace, with Michael Mizrachi and Robert Mizrachi. The 270-page effort has been released by Wallace’s Chained Hearts entity and brings to life a concept not originally conceived by any of the three listed authors.
Instead, the book was conceptualized by Australian poker player Tatiana Fox, who then enlisted the help of mixed-games and H.O.R.S.E experts Michael Mizrachi and Robert Mizrachi to help fill a relative gap in printed poker-strategy books. There just aren’t a lot of true H.O.R.S.E books on the market, as Fox realized. There are a couple, and there are a few mixed-games offerings as well, but gathering top-level advice on all five fixed-limit games in a standard H.O.R.S.E. rotation — hold’em, Omaha-8, razz, seven-card stud, and stud-8 — has always been the sort of sizable, detailed effort that’s scared off a few other would-be strategy authors.
The difficulties in pulling together a comprehensive H.O.R.S.E. guide factored into this book’s backstory as well, as Getting Started with HORSE Poker ended up spanning nearly two years from concept to publication, and that only after another H.O.R.S.E. WSOP bracelet winner, Chris “Fox” Wallace, joined the project. A veteran self-publisher in addition to being a high-stakes player, it was Wallace who finally helped pull the project through to finality.
The final effort is one of the deeper strategy efforts in recent years, even if it’s still difficult to jam wisdom on five different poker variants into a single tome. With H.O.R.S.E. events enjoying something of a resurgence, however, Getting Started with HORSE Poker is likely to find a receptive niche audience.
Strategies, hand-reading, examples and mistakes
Though the “Getting started” portion of the title might suggest it’s a beginner’s poker book, it’s really not. Despite devoting an early chapter to the basic rules of all five H.O.R.S.E variants, this is really more of an intermediate book, one where a player’s existing knowledge — perhaps in no-limit hold’em or PLO — is then adapted to the fixed-limit formats in H.O.R.S.E.
As with all fixed-limit games, what’s collected within the H.O.R.S.E framework veers more toward the “science” of the science-vs.-art debate about how various forms of poker are played. But there’s an art to deploying that science, and that’s where the authors focus their efforts. Collectively, the authors own 10 WSOP bracelets, and nary a one has come in the WSOP’s most common format, no-limit hold’em. Instead, most of those 10 bracelets have come in mixed events, including Michael Mizrachi’s record three Poker Players Championship titles. Michael owns five WSOP bracelets, while brother Robert has four, in addition to former Poker.org contributor Wallace’s solo piece of bracelet bling, which came in a $10,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. event.
These are the types of H.O.R.S.E. experts that you’d want to learn from. Once past the introductory chapters, Getting Started with HORSE Poker uses an in-common approach to examining each format in turn. Basic strategies come first, including advice on reading hands, and that’s followed by hand examples and a focus on the types of mistakes that can keep most players from achieving H.O.R.S.E. excellence.
And as the authors point out, very very few players, even including top pros, are true experts at all five games in a normal H.O.R.S.E. rotation. There’s a lot to unpack and learn, but rewards are achievable.
Rob Mizrachi shares thoughts on book project
Rob Mizrachi took time out during the recently completed 2022 World Series of Poker to talk with Poker.org about Getting Started with HORSE Poker‘s release. “We were preparing this book for about a year and a half,” explained Rob. “Tatiana and I came up with a great idea for my brother and I to write a book about H.O.R.S.E. And she kept coming from Australia to help us out, you know, writing chapters and it just kept getting better and better, more interesting. We put all our knowledge into it. And later on, she introduced Chris Wallace, who helped us in further writing the book and [helping to get it live].”
Even at 270 pages, it’s not likely that all of the Mizrachis’ and Wallace’s deep H.O.R.S.E. knowledge made it into the book, even if there’s a ton of information inside. Rob focused on how difficult it really is to master all that H.O.R.S.E. entails. “It’s not easy to know all the games,” he explained. “I mean, just to adjust to every game takes a lot. Every game is different and requires a mix of patience and aggression.”
Of all the various games involved in H.O.R.S.E, Mizrachi still emphasized that learning to reading and weighing boards correctly might be a H.O.R.S.E. player’s single most vital skill. “It’s about reading the boards, learning and studying all the dead cards, and in razz, all the live cards. Then you start playing top cards and holding position. Even such basics,” Rob added, as he focused on the three stud formats in H.O.R.S.E, “as trying to start your hands with an ace.”
Featured image source: Chained Hearts