H.O.R.S.E. is an acronym for the combination of five different poker games: Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Seven card stud, and Seven Card Stud - Eight or Better (aka Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo).
HORSE has become very popular since it was added to the 2006 World Series Of Poker as a $50,000 buy-in event, the largest buy-in event at the WSOP.
HORSE is played as one "round" of each of its component games. It begins with limit hold'em, then limit Omaha high-low, razz (seven card stud low), seven card stud, and finally seven card stud high-low. When the seven-card stud high-low round is complete, the game goes back to limit hold'em, and so on.
When switching from Omaha high-low to Razz, the button is frozen that way, when the game switches back to Holdem (after seven card stud high-low), nobody skips blinds or pays extra blinds.
All the component games in HORSE are played fixed limit - there are no pot-limit or no-limit games. The limits (such as $5-10) are kept throughout the game rotation, and you play $5-10 fixed limit hold'em, $5-10 fixed limit Omaha high-low, etc.
The first game in HORSE is Limit Hold em. Holdem is currently the most popular form of poker. You are dealt two cards and you can use one or both of them along with 3 or 4 of the 5 community cards to make your best poker hand. The 5 community cards are dealt face up across the middle of the table. In Limit Holdem you can only bet according to a structured limit. So, for example, if you are playing in a $2/$4 game, the small blind will be $1 and the big blind $2. Betting will be in increments of $2 before the flop and on the flop. On the turn and the river betting will be in increments of $4.
The second game in the HORSE rotation is Omaha Hi/Low Split. In this game the pot is split at the end of the hand between the best high hand and the best low hand (if there is a qualifying low hand.) In order to qualify as a low hand, the player must use 3 cards from the community cards and two cards from his hand to make 5 cards of 8 or under. Straights and flushes are ok and the ace counts as a low card. So the best possible low would be A2345. The game is played with a flop, turn and river just like Hold Em, but each player is dealt 4 cards of their own instead of 2. In Omaha the player must use two of the four cards in their hand to make their best hand (high or low or both.) But they must use two and only two...not one, and not 3 or 4.
The third game is Razz. Razz is a stud game and is dealt by giving each player two cards face down and one card face up. Then the cards are dealt one at a time, face up, until the 7th and final card which is dealt face down. Razz is a straight low game. The winning hand will be the lowest five cards. Again straights and flushes do not count against you and aces are low, so the lowest possible 5 cards are A2345. Ties are split and suits have no ranking. Unlike Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Low, there is no 8 or better qualifier in Razz. This means that the best low hand will win even if that hand is King high.
The fourth HORSE game is Stud Hi. Seven card stud is dealt like a typical stud game and like Razz above. But this time the pot is won by the best five card high poker hand. Betting is according to the limit.
The final game in the HORSE rotation is Stud Hi/Lo. This game is similar to Omaha Hi/Lo in that the pot is split between the Hi hand and the Lo hand (if there is a qualifying low.) The low must consist of 5 cards no higher than 8, so again the best low hand is A2345. The game is dealt exactly the same as Stud Hi and the betting limits are the same.
The strategy for playing Horse is to take advantage by maximizing your strenghts on games you are good at, while minimizing your losses in games you are weaker in. The best strategy is, of course, to be skilled at all of the games, so you don’t have to worry about being humiliated in a game you are weak at.
This will require a lot of practice, and an inordinate amount of time and energy. So come back to the Texas Poker Store often to review the different game rules, watch some of the videos we provide from some of the world leading Poker Players and while you're here, look around at all our Poker products and go ahead and buy all you poker accessories.
If you or your friends have a game that you made up, send us the name and rules for it and we will post it here, and credit you for it! ♥