Introduction to HORSE Poker

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Introduction to HORSE Poker

The 2006 World Series of Poker featured the first $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship. The event, won by poker legend Chip Reese, was largely considered to be the "players' championship," the true indicator of poker's best, as opposed to the main event.

Many pros have considered the main event to be much more of a luck affair due to the high number of amateurs who currently populate the event. The H.O.R.S.E. event, with a higher buy-in and the requirement of knowledge in a variety of forms of poker, was much more highly regarded.

You don't need to pony up $50,000 to play H.O.R.S.E. The game can be found on a few online poker sites and at some live casinos, as well as in tournaments for cheaper buy-ins. You will need to know how to play all the games, so read on (the games shift every round, the length of the rounds vary depending on where the game is being played and whether it is a tournament or a cash game).


Holdem is the most well-known of the H.O.R.S.E. games. Players receive two cards face down and make their best five card hand with any combination of these two and five shared community cards that appear on the table ("the board"). Betting takes place before the first three cards are revealed ("pre-flop") after the first three cards are revealed ("the flop") after the fourth board card ("the turn") and after the fifth ("the river"). Action is driven by two blind bets posted before the cards are dealt; the small blind posts a fraction of a full bet and the big blind posts a full bet. This particular version is limit holdem, meaning the amount you can bet and raise each round is fixed and usually doubles after the flop.


In Omaha players get four cards in their hand and must use exactly two in their hand with four on the board. Play is structured and proceeds as in holdem, although the additional cards and the requirement that you use exactly two from your hand often creates an additional challenge. This version is played hi/low, meaning the best hand splits the pot with the lowest hand providing that hand is no better than eight high.


This is seven card stud lowball. Played just as seven card stud except the worst five card hand wins. Straights and flushes do not count and aces are low so the worst hand is A 2 3 4 5 ("The wheel")


Seven card stud. Players ante and are dealt two cards face down and one face up. The lowest card must make a bring-in bet that is less than a full bet. Subsequent players may complete the bet, call, fold or raise. There is then a fourth face up card and the highest hand showing acts first, with play proceeding clockwise. If there is a pair showing betting limits double. On the fifth card, dealt face up, betting limits double if they have not already. A sixth card is dealt face up, a round of betting, then a seventh card face down. One more round of betting and the best five card hand shown down wins the pot.

(E)ight or Better

This is seven card stud hi/low. It is a combination of stud and razz, with the high hand splitting with the low hand providing the low hand is no better than eight high. You can find appropriate H.O.R.S.E. games for your bankroll level by searching the poker room ratings of a decent poker web resource. Make sure you get best poker bonus as well!

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