WSOP $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event draws luminaries and legends with relaxed atmosphere, game variety

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: June 20, 2023 7:17 pm EDT

To each his own, as the saying goes. Poker’s most popular format, no-limit hold’em, offers the richest prizes, the biggest names, and usually draws the biggest rails. But if you’d like to see other famous players and poker luminaries, there’s another way to go. Just check out one of the WSOP’s everyday mainstays, the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event.

H.O.R.S.E. remains a popular mixed-games format. Its relaxed atmosphere and a more-or-less guaranteed several levels of play brings out a wide range of participants, from rank amateurs to some of poker’s most legendary players. A look around today’s opening action from Event #47 found famous poker faces everywhere, including Todd Brunson, Jeffrey Lisandro, Matt Savage, Yuri Dzivielevski, Maria Ho, Esther Taylor, Randy Ohel, Norman Chad, David “Bakes” Baker, Norman Chad, Miami John Cernuto, Ari Engel, Ted Forrest, Victor Ramdin, Allen Cunningham, and many, many others.

Each player has his or her own reason for playing a given tournament, but H.O.R.S.E. lovers tend to follow just a few themes. From the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie to the variety of games and the fast-paced play, the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event draws a loyal following, year after year.

PokerOrg checked in with a few of today’s H.O.R.S.E. players to find out what draws them to the format and this event:

Matt Savage, prominent tournament director and TDA founder

“It’s the people. It’s a fun game and it moves fast. I can’t stand when you get people playing so slow. It moves fast and it’s kind of with the people I associate with. When I’m running events I always like to throw mixed games in there. I feel like I have to support the community and that’s why I’m here.”

Jeanne David, retired PokerStars executive

“The reason I love H.O.R.S.E. so much is that it’s entertaining. It keeps my brain functioning. And I find no-limit extremely boring. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes then spend ten hours playing no-limit, but I can spend 15 hours playing H.O.R.S.E. and I love it. Every eight hands the game changes and it’s awesome…. You play no-limit and everybody’s got headphones on, sunglasses. Nobody’s having conversations; maybe they are, at higher limits, but nobody’s really having conversations. In this game, people laugh, joke around. It’s a smaller community.”

Norman Chad, longtime color commentator on WSOP broadcasts

“I like as many games as possible. I wish it was double or triple H.O.R.S.E.,15 games. I’ve said it a million times; for the growth of the game, for the good of the game, we’ve got to play more than no-limit hold’em. In general, H.O.R.S.E. people and mixed-games people are in a better mood. We talk more to each other. We don’t wear hoodies, we don’t wear headphones, and we don’t wear sunglasses. We do take a long time in the bathroom, but when we get back out, we talk.”

William Lahti, New York-born, Texas-residing player and podcaster

“I like the variety the mixed games bring. Some split-pot action, some lowball action. No-limit hold’em gets a little bit repetitive. I love a good draw game, too, but we’re done with those, though, pretty much…. Mixed games tend to be very friendly tables. It’s nice; it feels a little less grind-y than hold’em.”